But he started seeing progress during the 2006 season, his second season as a Bulldog.
"I started to see progress my second year," said Smith, referring to a 2006 season that saw just three wins, but four losses by only three points each. "All the hard work that we had done was finally starting to pay off.
"And I realized that (MSU head) Coach (Sylvester) Croom knew what he was talking about because we started to win more games."
The 2007 season sealed the deal for Smith.
"Last year, it really let me know that this man really knows what he's doing," said Smith.
And this year the bar has been raised to a standard not seen around Mississippi State in many seasons.
"This year, everybody feels like we can win all 12 games," said Smith.
Ok, winning 12 may be a tall order even for this talented group of Bulldogs. But Smith does have a bottom line figure for wins.
"We should win nothing less than 10 games this year," said Smith. "If we win less than that, we will be disappointed. And it's good to feel that way."
He explained his reasoning behind the 10-win minimum.
"I think we have the most talent since I've been here," he said. "When I first got here, we didn't have the same depth of talent that we have now. Now we have talent everywhere."
Including a squad full of seniors.
"We have 25 seniors coming back this year, and all those seniors are talented," said Smith. "I feel we have a chance to win it all - the SEC Championship, go to a good bowl game."
Which would be a fitting end for Jamayel Smith and those other 24 seniors who have work long and hard to achieve that kind of success.