Entering his junior season, safety Dee Smith will take on a larger role in the Louisville secondary this fall.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound product of Florence, Ala., appeared in 12 games for the Cardinals in 2016, making four starts, and recorded a career-best 42 tackles. He tallied a career-high 10 stops in Louisville's visit to Houston.
Smith views himself as a physical presence for the Cardinals secondary and one that quickly zeros in on stopping the ball.
"I feel like I'm a more physical, big-body safety, so I'm a better tackler," he said.
Now a veteran, Smith is adjusting to a new position coach in Lorenzo Ward, while also helping guide the newer members of the position depth chart. During the early stages of spring practice, Smith is proving to be a key figure and providing insight with the group.
"I didn't know much about him, but I like the way he's doing things," he said of secondary coach Lorenzo Ward. "He's a good coach."
The unit does return some experience, but the loss of Josh Harvey-Clemons to graduation is noticable. The group also welcomes a pair of newcomers in redshirt freshman P.J. Blue and early enrollees Lyn Strange and C.J. Avery.
"I think the young guys are stepping up a lot," Smith said. "They're producing in practice and we have a big chance of filling in the roles that we lost."
P.J. Blue, a 6-foot-3, 208-pound safety, has stood out during the first week of practice and drew praise from Smith.
"He's a very physical and a big-body back there," he said. "He kind of reminds me of Josh Harvey-Clemons."
As a senior at Florence High School, Smith was rated as a four-star prospect and was a member of the Scout 300.
The Cardinals have held six spring practice sessions and will resume on Friday, March 30. The final open practice for fans to attend in Apr. 4. The annual Spring Game is slated for Apr. 15 at 1p.m.