Eat To Compete: Smith Piling Up Pounds

Playing a new position, sophomore Vance Smith may be able to provide help this fall on the Auburn offensive front.

Auburn, Ala.--Eating half a dozen squares a day with no need to count calories, Vance Smith is hoping to grow into a bigger role with the 2009 Auburn football team.

The former tight end has been adding size and strength this year as he makes a position switch to offensive tackle. So far the experiment seems to be progressing nicely for the true sophomore from Pace, Fla., High School.

"Coach Boulware, Coach Malzahn, Coach Grimes and I sat down one day after winter workouts and they asked me what I wanted to do," Smith recalls from his meeting with tight ends coach Jay Boulware, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and offensive line coach Jeff Grimes.

"They told me it was my decision on whether or not to make the move and I told them I would do whatever is best for the team," Smith recalls.

With the Tigers short on bodies at offensive tackle, the coaches let him know that a move to the OL would probably be best for the team. Smith has the potential to provide depth behind projected starters Lee Ziemba, a junior, and Andrew McCain, a senior.

Smith, a coach's son who was a multi-sport athlete in high school, admits he was a bit apprehensive about making the move after he initially said yes. "I was kind of unsure of the whole weight thing and all of that, but I made the right choice for sure. I am really happy about my decision."

The "whole weight thing" has been interesting, to say the least.

"It's been a different experience," Smith notes. "I am up to 282 pounds now. At this time last year I was around 240. I am just trying to get used to it when I run and all of that stuff, but it hasn't been like I thought it would be. I am carrying it pretty well."

"I have actually grown taller," Smith points out. "They measured me when I got here last year and I was six-foot-two. They measured us again before we went home for the summer break and I was 6-4 1/2.

"I would like to be around 290 when fall camp starts--maybe 295," he points out. "I eat six times a day. I have no clue how many calories that is. It is a lot, I can tell you that."

To make sure he turns those calories into muscle, the sophomore spends as much time as he can with strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall and his staff. "I try to stay after workouts and do extra stuff," he says. "I am starting to get adjusted to the extra weight."

Smith points out that he weighed 250 pounds when the Tigers wrapped up spring training in April. He got in 15 practices as an offensive tackle, a position he had never played prior to this year.

"At first I didn't know what to think about moving from tight end to tackle, but I really like it," he says. "It is a good change and I really have fun with it. I really like the way Coach Grimes does stuff. He is really down to earth. He will shoot you straight. He teaches very well. The way he coaches he makes things very simple."

This time of year Smith and his teammates work out with Yoxall's staff. "Coach Yox has been running us pretty good," the sophomore says. "I wasn't here last summer for a full summer so I didn't know what to expect. One thing for sure is that we are going to be in shape."

Blocking is nothing new to Smith. He saw substantial playing time as a true freshman last season and most of his assignments involved blocking. He notes that his high school team ran the ball "90 percent of the time" so he had plenty of experience blocking on the edge when he got Auburn.

He also had experience being physical on the line of scrimmage. He played both ways his senior year and earned All-State honors as a defensive tackle. "I think playing defensive line in high school has helped me with playing tackle," he says.

Vance Smith says he is adapting well to the extra weight he is carrying this summer. He says that his goal for the 2009 season is to be ready to contribute at his new position if needed. "I just want to get into the rotation," he says. "In case somebody goes down, I want to be able to go in and actually compete with those guys. I can play both sides and I actually had to do that in the spring when A.J. (Greene) got hurt. I am comfortable doing that."

Off the field, the sophomore says that his academics are going smoothly.

On the field, the sophomore notes that he and his teammates are trying to build a group identity by the way they play. "Our goal is to be the toughest offensive line in the country," he says. "We are working to get there. We are all working to get stronger."

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