AU's Smith Eager for First Game to Arrive

Auburn junior wideout Rod Smith is expected to be a key player for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--With Courtney Taylor graduated, the time is right for Rodgeriqus Smith to become one of the featured players in the Auburn offense.

The junior wide receiver, who was put on scholarship earlier this month, says he is eager to get on the field opening night and show the progress he has made in the past year.

"I think I am playing pretty good and taking some steps forward," Smith says. "I am trying to be that number one receiver, the go-to guy they want to throw the ball to. I think I have taken some steps forward preparing myself for Kansas State."

Coach Tommy Tuberville says the former walk-on has truly earned his scholarship with his work ethic and performances in practices and in games. Senior quarterback Brandon Cox notes that the junior receiver is a player he can count on to be in the right place at the right time and make a play when the ball is thrown his way.

Rod Smith has added strength and size since last season.

Smith is hoping that Cox throws the ball his way early and often this year and the receiver says he likes what he is seeing out of his quarterback, who is prepared to be a starter for a third consecutive season.

"Cox is throwing ball really well now," Smith says. "He has been injury-free and he has been really sharp. I am expecting big things out of Cox this year."

One of the big stories of the preseason has been the battle for the backup quarterback job. Blake Field, a redshirt junior, will go into the season with that role after the coaches made him re-earn that spot after being limited in spring drills by tendonitis in his shoulder.

Smith says he likes what he is seeing from Field. "Blake is definitely having his best preseason," the receiver points out. "It has always been a question about who is going to be the number two quarterback. There has been a lot of pressure on the guy. He has been here for four years and he came in with me. I think this is the year he has really stepped up and taken over the number two spot."

With the opener vs Kansas State almost here, Auburn's coaches have been trying to settle on a playing rotation at the three wide receiver spots. Smith is a lock to be one of the starters while Robert Dunn and Prechae Rodriguez will likely handle the other spots. There could be movement on the receiver depth chart throughout the season.

"We have had a lot of competition and we have a lot of young guys competing," Smith says. "It looks like we have narrowed it down to maybe about seven or eight guys who are still competing for a spot."

One of the receivers who is having a good season is James Swinton, Smith's teammate from high school. "James has really stepped up," Smith notes. "He is playing behind me at the X position and he is making a lot of plays for us. We are going to need that from him this year."


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