Cotton Has Different Feel for AU'S Smith

Receiver Rod Smith talks about preparing to play in the Cotton Bowl against Nebraska on Jan. 1.

Dallas, Tex.--This time last year Rodgeriqus Smith was in Orlando practicing with the rest of the Auburn team getting ready for the Capital One Bowl against Wisconsin. But last year's bowl trip for Smith, and other players who were way down the depth chart, was about riding rollercoasters and having a good time.

Smith was riding the pine behind the likes of Devin Aromashodu, Ben Obomanu and Anthony Mix and knew he wasn't going to play much, if at all, against the Badgers.

However, after catching just six passes all of last season as a redshirt freshman, Smith goes into this year's bowl game as Auburn's second leading receiver in 2006 behind Courtney Taylor.

"I'm more excited knowing that I'm going to be out on the field helping my team play," Smith says. "It's a lot different for me this year. Last year I got to enjoy myself a little more because I knew I really wasn't going to play. This year I'm more about business and focusing on the game."

Smith is shown at Wednesday's practice on the SMU campus.

From walking on at Auburn to earning a starting job just two years later, Smith has caught 26 balls for 452 yards and a team-leading four touchdown receptions this season as a sophomore.

"I sit down and think about that where I first started out and where I am now," he explains. "It's just a blessing for me right now to be in a position that I am. I'm just thankful for everything that happened to me this year. I just want to continue to keep on working.

"Come Jan. 1st I can't wait to get on that field and play against Nebraska."

The Cornhusker defense has been described by nearly every Auburn player as "big and physical." They allow just 120.4 yards on the ground, but 223.3 yards through the air.

"They play a lot of off coverage and they have a good defense," Smith notes. "Their cornerbacks are real good and we'll be looking at tough coverage from those guys. They play a lot of cover 2 and they protect the deep ball so they play a lot of off coverage."

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