Position series feature: Jake Smith

Cardinal Authority continues out position series features with a look at the projected starter at center for the University of Louisville football team – junior Jake Smith, who played guard last season.

Mario Benavides made it sound so easy.

Benavides, who started 47 games at center during his career at U of L, is close friends with his replacement Jake Smith.

"All he has to do is scooch over a little," Benavides said with a laugh, noting Smith's short move from right guard to center on the offensive line.

It's a little more complicated than just that, but the 6-foot-4, 312-pound Smith is primed and ready to take over the center spot on the University of Louisville offense as the Cardinals head into a new season.

"I learned everything from Mario," Smith said. "I know I have a long way to go but I think I've proven myself a lot so far.

"I like the position a lot. It's the captain role on the line. It's real cool."

It's not like Smith doesn't have experience.

Smith started 25 straight games at guard before he had an illness prior to the Sugar Bowl game and didn't start in the win over Florida last season.

"Jake is doing a nice job and he's experienced," U of L offensive line coach Dave Borbely said. "It's just a matter of learning how to play the position right now. It's a little different playing with the ball in your hand.

"It's more the mental piece for Jake because he is just scooched over a spot. The guard is always working with the center anyway, so it's all mental."

U of L offensive coordinator Shawn Watson calls Smith the "thump" in the offensive line room and said the move of Smith to the center position "was a huge move for us on the offensive side of the ball."

Smith was still at guard until about a week or so before the spring game. Smith played center in the spring game and has been there every since that time.

"I had no idea I could even snap," Smith said. "But I did it and was decent at it and it's been fun for me. I'm just trying to learn the position."

Smith said he takes what he learned from Benavides the past two seasons and what Borbely has been teaching him, hoping it will make him a solid center.

He said the biggest challenge is getting down the snap.

"I try not to think about it too much," he said. "It's just a matter of going out and getting reps and getting used to it. I am getting there."

Borbely said Smith has "come a long" way during camp.

"The biggest challenge is trying to learn how to snap when a guy is right there in your shorts," he said. "The center is the guy that's nose-to-nose with some of those defenders and that can be a challenge."

Borbely said no starting spots are set in stone with two weeks until the opener against Ohio University, but Smith has a huge leg up.

"He's getting there," Borbely said.


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