Smith's Catches Help Tigers Beat Gators

Auburn junior wide receiver Rod Smith discusses his big game vs. the Gators.

Gainesville, Fla.--Rod Smith had always hoped to one day play football in The Swamp of Florida. On Saturday he finally got that chance and came through with a career night.

However, it wasn't the same tint of blue that he once imaged.

Growing up watching the likes of Ike Hilliard, Reidel Anthony, Jacquez Green, Darrell Jackson and Reche Caldwell, it was in a Gator uniform that he had one day hoped to wear.

"This was the game that was marked on my calendar," Smith explains. "This is my dad's first time to come see me play and I had about 13 family members come. And I don't know if I should say this, but all through my life I wanted to be a Florida Gator--when Steve Spurrier was here and everything. It feels great to come play here in The Swamp for the first time. It doesn't get any better than this."

Smith had a career-high nine catches and his first 100-yard receiving game in Auburn's thrilling 20-17 victory on Saturday night.

"It definitely seems real, but in a way it seems like a dream," he says. "We had faith as a team and we came together as one, had the unity and we stepped up it up big today.

Rod Smith made nine catches for 102 yards in Auburn's 20-17 victory. He celebrates his big night with Tiger fans at Florida Field.

"It was tough to have those two losses at home, but all of that is out of your mind, you come to The Swamp and get a W, you have great game against New Mexico State, and you get a lot of momentum. To come in and have a great game against Florida just feels great."

The reception that put Smith over the century mark moved the ball to midfield and got the final drive going. After Ben Tate got the Tigers down to the Florida 26, it was time for freshman kicker Wes Byrum to do his thing.

"It was gut-wrenching," Smith notes, "but I had all of the confidence in the world in Wes. He makes a lot of those kicks in practice. I was over there praying. We hooked up (linked arms) and we were believing. We started believing and we think this is going to change our season around."


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