"Different Experience" For Braden Smith

Auburn offensive lineman Braden Smith gives his take on moving to guard.

Auburn, Ala.--After playing tackle as a true freshman for the Auburn football team, Braden Smith is working at guard this spring, the position he played in high school. The six-foot-six, 300-pounder from Kansas says he is in learning mode.

“It is a different experience,” Smith said, who noted that he has gained around 10 pounds since arriving at Auburn last summer. “Any time you are at a new position it is a whole different world.”

Smith and the Tigers are in the second week of spring drills. Auburn will have its fifth of 15 practices on Thursday before taking a week off for the university’s spring break.

Asked what is different about moving to guard, Smith said, “I mean, just like on double teams you are setting the point, you pull, and you don’t really do that as a tackle. You are not really dealing with speed rushers. Stuff like that.”

Commenting on which position he prefers, the former high school All-American said, “Whatever gets me on the field, I will do it. Anything on the field is good with me.”

Smith’s head coach, Gus Malzahn, noted that he has high hopes for the big lineman.

“He is playing a new position,” Malzahn said. “He wants to be good. He practices extremely hard. He is a smart guy.”

Malzahn said that Smith caught his attention at Tuesday’s practice. “I haven’t seen the film yet, but just looking today on the practice field it looked like he took a step forward as far as his execution.”

Smith saw limited action last season as a backup tackle and occasionally lined up at tight end. He started the bowl game vs. Wisconsin ahead of Patrick Miller, who finished the contest for the Tigers.

Braden Smith

Asked if having some playing time will help him for his second college season, Smith said, “It gives you that experience because any time it is your first time on the field it is a whole different kind of world out there. Now I am more comfortable. If I were to go on the field, I wouldn’t be star struck. It is just getting that experience that is really helpful.”

Malzahn said he liked the physical nature of Tuesday’s practice and looks for a repeat of that on Thursday before breaking for the university holiday.

Asked about the focus on the offensive line so far this spring, Smith said, “Right now we are working on getting the fundamentals down, going back to the basics. That is kind of our whole thing for spring right now.”

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