This season, the 6'9" veteran wants to answer the critics that doubt his abilities on the hardwood. Smith averaged just 8.4 minutes per appearance last season and 2.3 points just one season ago. The junior center knows that he has the opportunity to play a big role for the Bulldogs this season; he just has to find his next response.
"The opportunity is there for me this season, but I know that I will have to compete every day," Smith said. "Marcus (Campbell) and Wesley (Morgan) will also be ready to play this season. If I can't play hard, they will. I know that I have to give it every thing I have every time I step out there."
Smith's response this season might just be his ability, and desire to play hard. Now at 255 pounds, Smith resembles a linebacker more than an offensive lineman. Over this off-season he has worked hard to gain strength instead of weight.
"I know that most of my job will come down to playing defense and rebounding," Smith said. "We have guys out there that can score. I will get my points, but that is not my game.
"To play good defense in the SEC you have to be physical. You have to be able to play tough down low. Rebounding is the same way. That is why I wanted to get stronger."
Smith also took a page out of coach Rick Stansbury's book as he worked this summer in preparation for the upcoming season.
"Coach (Stansbury) always says that rebounding is effort and toughness," Smith added. "This summer I worked on boxing out and just giving that effort every time I went up for a rebound. I know that I have the ability, now I just have to give the effort."
Giving the effort is something that Smith knows is not just a necessity on the court, but off the court as well. While he loves basketball, Smith works equally as hard on his future away from the hardwood.
Since he has spent most of his time answering questions while he has been at MSU, Smith has focused his sights on asking questions in the future.
"When I get through here and earn my degree, I am going to go to Law School," said Smith, who will graduate with a degree in sociology/corrections. "I would really like to go to Mississippi College for law school because it is close to home. I want to be a public defender."
While his plans in the future might involve defending some of the state's toughest criminals, Smith hopes to help this season's Bulldogs by defending some of the SEC's toughest centers.
"We have the ability to go a long way. Winning a national championship is something that everyone on the team thinks we have the ability to do," Smith said. "We just have to go out and play with toughness, and take care of business."
Grant Alford is a free-lance correspondent for Gene's Page. He is a student at Mississippi State University. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.