Living out a dream

CLEMSON - Robert Smith kept an eye on a pair of schools when he was watching college football as a kid in the Lowcountry.

Clemson and Georgia were his two teams. Now after two years of college ball, he'll start at strong safety for Clemson on Saturday when the Tigers play Georgia.

"I never really had a clear-cut, just a fanatic for either one, so I decided I wanted to go to Clemson, but it's just crazy," Smith said. "It's like a dream, everything since you were little and start dreaming about.

"Now, it's coming true. It's just an opportunity that's awaiting for me now."

Back when he was three-star safety at Woodland High School, Smith made no bones about his allegiances throughout his interviews with CUTigers. But Georgia never offered him a chance to live out that dream.

Smith doesn't hold a grudge, because he's pretty satisfied with what's going on at Clemson.

"If I had to go back anytime in my life, I wouldn't choose any other place but Clemson," he said. "I'm very happy with my decision that I made."

And Smith hopes to make Clemson fans happy late Saturday night.

"It's a great opportunity just to start the season off with a great opponent like Georgia. It's a chance to solidify our name," he said. "We've been working hard and we want to show that we're a contender for a national championship."

Smith, who has 23 tackles and one pass breakup in 163 snaps over 27 games at Clemson, knows that he and the rest of the Tigers' secondary is in for a challenge on Saturday night. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is one of the best, if not the best, quarterbacks in the country.

"Aaron's a great quarterback. Everybody has to do their job and follow the game plan," Smith said. "That's how I plan to go about stopping Aaron Murray. It's not going to be easy, because he's in it for the Heisman talk."

Most prognosticators have pegged this game as a shoot-out. Smith will have a considerable role in trying to prevent it from going in that direction.

"I feel like it's up to us to make that change. It's up to us to go out there and show the nation what we really are," he said. "We can't say much about it [now]. It is what it is. We have to go out there and show the improvements that we made over the offseason."

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