Auburn, Ala.--If anyone deserves to take a deep breath and appreciate what he's accomplished it's junior wide receiver Rodgeriqus Smith. A former walk-on that earned a scholarship this year, Smith has gone from unknown walk-on to Auburn's number one receiver in a matter of three years. That is cause for celebration for some but for Smith it just means more hard work to stay on top of his game.
"It's very different being the number one receiver coming in," Smith says. "You've got to come in and produce every day. That is what is expected of you. That's pretty much what I'm going to try to do during two-a-days, make plays every day."
His work began on Thursday afternoon when he joined mostly veterans for Auburn's second practice of the preseason. Without a doubt Auburn's top receiver going into the 2007 season, Smith says that it's always fun to get back on the practice field for a new year and especially when you're being counted on to make plays.
"The first day of two-a-days, it always feels good to get back out here," Smith says. "Everybody has some jitters but you're anxious to get back out for the first day. It always feels good.
"You're anxious for two-a-days to start so you want to come out and make every play and show the coaches you're ready for the season," he adds. "It's always tough that first day because you're so anxious."
Wide receiver Rod Smith is the veteran of the group for the Tigers and say it's a role he's looking forward to.
As the leader of the group, Smith will be counted on to not only make plays on the field but also to teach and keep the younger players up to date and involved in the offense. Those are things that he says he's getting better at but still must improve to be the leader he wants to be.
"I'm just telling the guys to watch more film and get in their playbooks," Smith says. "That's what we're going to need this year. We don't have that veteran group like we had two or three years ago. It's going to be tougher on those guys but I have just have to stay on them about getting in the playbook."
Coming off a season when he became a solid compliment to Courtney Taylor in the starting rotation, Smith says that he's kept in touch with Taylor over the summer and into training camp. He says being able to count on Taylor and a couple of other former Auburn wide receivers when he has questions should make him a better player and the true go-to receiver for the Tigers in any situation.
"I have learned a lot from Courtney," Smith says. "I have been working out with Courtney even on our off days. During our skelly (7-on-7 voluntary workouts) we would work out together. He's given me a lot of help with a lot of stuff. I even learned a lot from Devin (Devin Aromashodu) and Ben (Ben Obomanu). I still talk to those guys.
"It's very different coming in as the number one guy," he adds. "They expect so much out of you. Courtney Taylor had that role last year. It's always going to be tough when you've got that pressure on you. I have been taking it well. I think I had a pretty good day today and I'm just going to take it one day at a time."