However, not long after the start of his first fall camp at the University of Louisville in August of 2003, the 6-foot-1, 212-pound Smith was asked to make the move from quarterback to linebacker.
"At first it was kind of hard, but the coaches took their time with me," explained Smith. "I'm putting forth the effort to get better at it each day."
Smith, however, realizes that his experience as a quarterback provides benefits when playing on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage.
"Seeing [an offense's] formation, I can have an idea of what they might try and do out of it," said Smith. "I'm able to pick up the motion and things like that."
The most obvious change for players making the position from an offensive skill position to a defensive position is the directive to create contact instead of avoiding it.
"Before I was the quarterback trying not to get hit, but now I'm trying to get hit the quarterback, so it is a little wierd," Smith said. "They are doing a good job of teaching me how to be a linebacker and to be violent. It was kind of hard learning to be that way. The first time I played on defense I had my chinstrap knocked off, but I understand how I need to be as a linebacker now."
His ability to learn and understand the linebacker position and the defensive schemes have pushed Smith to the top of the depth chart alongside senior Brandon Johnson at the WILL linebacker position.
"It's a lot different than running with the [second team], because everything is a lot faster," said Smith. "I feel like I'm getting up to the speed of it though."
He credits U of L Defensive Coordinator Mike Cassity for helping him to continually improve. "Coach Cassity is a great coach and takes a lot of time working with us. He wants to make sure that we understand what we should be doing out on the field."
With his first collegiate action as a linebacker is now just days away, Smith remains focused on giving full effort.
"I just want to go out there on the field and try to do my best," Smith said. "I'm going to leave it all out on the field."