VAUGHT: UK's Smith understands patience

Kentucky junior running back Alfonso Smith is once again a part of a loaded UK corp of backs. Smith has played most of his career behind former Wildcat Rafael Little and UK senior Tony Dixon; this season Derrick Locke and Moncell Allen look to be a part Kentucky's backfield in motion. How does Smith handle the situation?

Junior Alfonso Smith knows what it means to be patient -- and also what it means to take advantage of an opportunity.

He's one of three returning backs with experience at Kentucky and knows he could be the leading rusher one game or see limited action depending on how sophomore Derrick Locke and senior Tony Dixon are playing. If that's not enough, sophomore Moncell Allen could work his way into the playing rotation.

"You have to just do your part and wait until your name is called," said Smith. "For these past three years, I have been behind Dixon and Ralf (Rafael Little) and then when I got hurt Derrick Locke came in and did his thing. You just have to wait until your name is called, and it is going to happen.

"You just have to make the best of your opportunity and go out there and show what you have like Locke did at LSU. Nobody would have thought he was going to go in and do that. Not even me, and he's my teammate. He came out and I said, ‘Oh, my God. Now I have another running back to worry about.' It just makes you go out there and play harder."

Smith would like to be UK's premier back much like Little was the last two years.

"My name has been called a few times. I started the Georgia game (as a sophomore) and had 72 yards rushing and we upset Georgia. That gives me even more confidence because I started and we won, something we hadn't done," he said. "I know what I am capable of doing. I know what Dixon is capable of doing. I know what Locke can do. You just have to wait and continue to get better.

"You can't be satisfied with what you have done. You always have to get better. There is always room for improvement."

This could be the year Smith, and all the running backs, get far more carries if the Cats do rely more on a ball-control offense to take advantage of an experienced offensive line and veteran backs. Coach Rich Brooks has even said this is the best set of four running backs he's ever had.

"I have told coach Brooks that I like for a coach to put his confidence in me and look for more in me. That motivates me to be my best," Smith said. "I like knowing all the running backs are a key to the team and are one of the best positions on the team."

Smith knew he had to improve his pass catching ability if he wanted to play more this year. Even though he's one of UK's fastest players, Brooks wants a back who can be a viable pass-catching threat as well as an explosive runner.

"In the spring, I caught the ball well. I really worked hard on that and put emphasis on that," Smith said. "I am going to work hard. I am going to stay after practice and catch balls. I am going to make sure that catching the ball is not something that is a weakness.

"I am really going to work on blocking, too, because that is another weakness. I am going to work on everything. I don't want to leave anything to chance this year because if I get my opportunity to shine, I want to make sure I am ready."


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