Smith Hoping to Move Into Starting Role

Braden Smith arrived at Auburn with plenty of potential and this may be the season he has plenty of opportunities to show what type of blocker he can be.

Auburn, Ala.--Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes has high hopes that Braden Smith will become a special football player during his time at Auburn. Smith, who is heading into his sophomore season, notes that he is more concerned about sweating the details that will enable him to become a full-time starter this year.

On Friday the Auburn line coach said that unless something changes, Smith will head into the opener as the starter at right guard while Alex Kozan and Devonte Danzey will continue to compete to be the No. 1 left guard. The coach said there is also a good battle going on at center with Xavier Dampeer pushing Austin Golson.

Last season as a true freshman Smith played as a backup offensive tackle, but did start the bowl game vs. Wisconsin. He also saw part-time duty as a blocker while lining up at tight end.

Smith said he isn’t sure if he will do any blocking at tight end this season, but he did say he needs to concentrate on developing the technique that will allow him to break into the lineup at right guard.

“I’m just working on the little things,” the former five-star recruit out of Olathe, Kan., said. “Anyone can go out there and just maul someone, but just working on little things like your footwork and your placement, all that, just gives me a big step.”

Braden Smith is showing during his freshman season.

Smith, who noted that he has gained weight and is up to 307 pounds, should be able to make the adjustment to guard, a position he played in high school.

“It’s a lot of technique, especially in this kind of offense,” he said. “There are a million different situations that come across whenever you’re playing that you got to be ready for anything.”

On the technique front the lineman said he is working on his stance, his balance and his footwork. Asked how much he has improved as a guard since making the move there in spring training, he said, “It’s hard to really tell. I feel like I’ve gotten better on the little things since the spring and just assignment-wise I’ve gotten better at that.”

Braden Smith is a true sophomore.

If Smith shows he is a good fit at guard and Alex Kozan, a former freshman All-SEC pick, makes a strong recovery from his back injury that caused him to miss the 2014 season, the Tigers should be good shape at the guard spot. Also returning is senior Devonte Danzey, who started eight games last season and won praise from Grimes for his improvement.

The Tigers, who will have their second scrimmage on Saturday, will open the 2015 schedule on Sept. 5th vs. the Louisville in a game that will be played at the Georgia Dome.

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