A familiar perspective

CLEMSON - Robert Smith ended his prep career as one of the most decorated quarterbacks in the state's high school football history.

During his four years at Woodland High School [Dorchester], Smith completed 67 percent of his passes, compiled 11,318 total yards of offense and accounted for 124 touchdowns [86 passing, 38 rushing].

An all-state selection and four-time region MVP, he entered Clemson as the No. 72 safety in the class of 2011, according to Scout.com.

Smith believes that experience as a high school quarterback gives him a better perspective now that he calls the defensive backfield home.

"It kind of just gives you a tip on things," he said. "Sometimes, on offense they do certain things. I ran a similar kind of offense in high school. When I see things, I recognize how receiver splits.

"When a quarterback is looking at certain reads, blitzes, safeties, I kind of did same things when I was in high school, so that kind of helps with all of that."

During his first two years at Clemson, Smith had to wait his turn. Sitting behind Jonathan Meeks and Rashard Hall, Smith has played 163 total snaps, recording 23 tackles, one tackle for loss, an interception, a pass breakup and a forced fumble.

Assuming everything goes to plan through the summer and into fall camp, Smith will start at strong safety in the 2013 season opener against Georgia.

"This is something that I've been waiting on for two years now. I had the opportunity to sit behind two great safeties. I learned a whole lot from them," Smith said. "I didn't pout about it. I took it as an opportunity to learn.

"Coming into Clemson, I was more raw with things. I didn't play much defense at all in high school. I kind of took a step out and looked at it from a different perspective than what most people probably would have looked at it."

Because of his lack of experience at defensive back, Smith paid close attention to the more experienced guys ahead of him on the depth chart.

"I just looked at them during the whole game. I just picked up on what they do, in order to get better, how they succeed," Smith said. "I took it from every DB that's been here. Coty [Sensabaugh], Xavier Brewer, Rashard Hall, Jonathan Meeks, all of them brought different aspects to the game."

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