A Kentucky commitment for much of the fall, Smith changed and committed to the Tigers after a late scholarship offer by Gene Chizik and his staff. Now the talented safety is on campus and getting to know his future teammates better as they began taking classes Thursday. It's a time for bonding and one that Smith says he is looking forward to.
"It's big just getting here a month early and just getting into the rhythm of things," Smith tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "We've got a close group. Everybody is like a family. A lot of the guys knew each other through recruiting and I was kind of late to things, but it's just like a family.
"Fitting in isn't tough," he notes. "I already knew a lot of them. I played against some of them. Kenneth Carter, we were both at the Mr. Football Banquet. Michael Dyer was at A-Day when I was there. It's just a good group."
Ryan Smith runs the ball in the 2009 state championship game.
One of the top two-way players in Alabama last season as he was a standout at running back while also playing some quarterback for the Blue Devils in addition to his duties on defense, Smith will be all defense at Auburn. With Daren Bates moving to linebacker and question marks still surrounding the status of Zac Etheridge, Smith said coming in early gives him a chance to get into the mix a little earlier.
"It's big getting in and getting an early start," Smith says. "With me being the only defensive back getting the early start it is just great so I can get in and start learning the system. Being here is good on my part."
While it's doubtful that Smith will be able to repeat what Bates did last season in jumping into the starting lineup because of the return of Aairon Savage from injury and players such as Drew Cole and Mike Slade having solid springs, he says the biggest thing for him this summer and fall is learning as much as possible about life at Auburn and in the SEC.
"It's going to be very important to me," Smith says. "You've got guys like Zac Etheridge that have been around. You've got people like that to push me through the process. They are seniors so I've got a year of learning under them. It's a good experience."
Now preparing to start a new life at Auburn, Smith says his has been a whirlwind since he committed and signed with the Tigers in February. Since that time he says he's become happier and happier with his decision and can't wait until he can get on the field next season and get his playing career started.
"It was real big for me, a bit thing to happen," Smith says of choosing Auburn. "Because of my family it's just the right place to be. I like the coaches. All of them are great and when they came recruiting me they did it the right way and said the right things. It's just a big family.
"They told me how the defensive backs stood and that they had injuries last year and needed somebody in the rotation to come in and help," he adds. "I just felt like I fit in real well."