Kolby Smith: "This is what I came here for"

After two impressive seasons as a reserve, junior Kolby Smith now finds himself as one of Bobby Petrino's featured running backs.

As a senior at Rickards High School in Tallahassee, running back Kolby Smith was one of the nation's most sought after prospects, ranking as Scout.com's No.10 all-purpose back. His commitment to Louisville and new head coach Bobby Petrino in January of 2003, over offers from schools such as Clemson, Indiana and Nebraska, bolstered what would become - at that time - the best recruiting class in the history of the program.

After rushing for 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns his senior year at Rickards, he wasted no time climbing the depth chart at Louisville during Petrino's first fall camp. As a true freshman, Smith rushed 18 times for 131 yards and averaged a team best 7.3 yards per carry.

As a sophomore last fall, the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Smith continued to run impressively. He played in ten games, including one start, in 2004, recording 37 rush attempts for 347 yards and 4 touchdowns - once again topping the team with a 9.4 yards per carry average.

With Eric Shelton and Lionel Gates now preparing to play on Sunday's, Smith has become a feature back - along with Michael Bush - in Petrino's backfield.

"I don't feel any pressure, this is what I came here for," he said. "Everytime that I get the ball I try to make the best of the opportunity."

He, along with majority of the returning players from last year's 11-1 squad, spent his summer working out at the Cardinals ever-growing football complex preparing for the most anticipated season in the program's history.

"There really was no shift [in focus] since the end of the season," he said, adding that the team's strong determination has only increased as the season draws closer. "Everyone keeps working just as hard at the end of practice as we do at the start."


Through two seasons, Smith
has an 8.7 yards per
carry average

He credits the preseason expectations - those from the media and fans, as well as the team's own - as the motivation behind their strong work ethics.

"Every year we have set the bar higher for ourselves, so we could get to the position that we are in now," Smith said of the preseason expectations. "The expectations that we have set for ourselves are high too. We want to win each home game, win our conference and go to a BCS bowl."

Smith also said that the team has been focused on it's traditional season-opener against Kentucky since shortly after their thrilling Liberty Bowl win over 10th-ranked Boise State.

"We have been preparing for them since we started spring," he said. "All that has been on our mind since the spring has beat Kentucky."

Despite being the visiting team, Louisville enters the game against Kentucky as a heavy favorite, a fact that might have some worried about the team overlooking the Wildcats.

"There is no concern about that," Smith said. "We know what we have to do to win. We know what is out there in front of us, so we have to be ready to play everybody."


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