Wide Receiver Smith Working Hard to Play

Looking to fill a void at receiver, Rod Smith is a walk-on with SEC talent.

Auburn, Ala.--Thirty minutes after the end of Friday's practice, walk-on receiver Rodgeriqus Smith was still out on the practice fields catching passes from team managers.

"I just wanted to stay out and getting a little extra work on my hands," Smith says. "I've been dropping a couple of passes so I just wanted to fix that with a little extra work."

The redshirt sophomore has looked sharp this spring with his route running and has caught most of the balls thrown his way. But after dropping a couple on Friday, one on a deep pass after burning starting cornerback Jonathan Wilhite, Smith says he wants to make sure he's at his best for the scrimmage at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

"You've always got to go out and play your hardest in the scrimmages," he notes. "This is where the coaches evaluate you to see if you're going to be a contributor to the team next year. It's really important to go out there and play good in scrimmages."

Smith is shown catching a pass in SEC action against Mississippi State last season.

Smith played in seven games as a freshman in 2005, catching six passes for 109 yards. He is working with the first and second team offenses depending on the package, and he says that staying up there on the depth chart this fall is a major priority.

"Everything has been going pretty good," he says of spring drills. "Coach just wants us to come out here and compete, and that's pretty much what I'm trying to do. And to get into the playing rotation for next year, that's one of my goals and that's what is motivating me right now."

Another motivational factor for Smith is earning a scholarship. Certainly one of the top walk-ons on the team, he'll likely receive consideration if there is an opening available later this year. He came to Auburn from South Gwinnett High School in Snellville, Ga., hoping for that opportunity.

"I was talking to coach Price (Terry Price) and I was trying to get him to do it for me," Smith says of his recruitment to Auburn. "They said if I came down here and worked hard it's possible that I could get a scholarship.

"I had small college offers, but I didn't want to go to a small college," he adds. "I wanted to try Auburn out. It's going real good for me now and I think I'll have the opportunity to get a scholarship this year if I keep working hard."

Smith, who played football, basketball and ran track in high school, says he came to Auburn looking for the best opportunity to get into the lineup and earn the scholarship.

"I played (mostly) defense in high school," he notes. "I was a safety and I led the team in tackles. With interceptions I was one of the leaders in the county. I just thought I had a better chance coming down here and contributing as a wide receiver than I did as a DB."

If Smith keeps up the hard work, he'll definitely have that chance this fall.

Saturday's scrimmage, which will last approximately 150 plays, will be at the stadium and will start at 10 a.m. It is open to the public and fans attending should enter the stadium through the South end zone.

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