Lincoln, NE – The 2010 season has to be a hard one to swallow for Nebraska junior P.J. Smith. A starter for the first seven games, Smith was moved to the bench after the Oklahoma State game. He knew why and accepted it - he had to become a better tackler.
But with a new position in Corey Raymond, a fellow Louisiana native, Smith has been one of the biggest risers in camp so far.
"He gotten better, especially the last couple of days," said Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini. "He's tackling better, his knowledge and confidence are better, he just needs to keep coming along."
Coach Pelini isn't the only person on the staff that has noticed the progress.
"He's been doing really, we have seen him be more physical," said Raymond – the Nebraska secondary coach. "I have heard in the past it's been about his tackling and he's done a better job with that. Hopefully he continues to work hard and be physical out there. With his size he should be very physical out there."
Ask Smith about his progression and he doesn't want to talk about it. His focus is on the defensive unit as a whole, something that is preached by many other members of the squad.
"It's a big year for all of us, not just me. I know you asked about me, but it's not about me, but about this team. Whatever I can do to help this team get better, that's what it's all about," said Smith. "Coach Raymond is teaching us the ins and outs, the transition with him at the helm isn't complete yet. One day he might teach us this one thing, when we master it, he expands on it. He's making not just me, but everyone better.
Every year Nebraska hosts official visitors, hoping recruits eventually want to become part of the storied Nebraska tradition.
But it's not just the coaches who play an important part in the process, but the current players as well.
Possibly no player has hosted more recruits in the last few years compared to P.J. Smith. When a player is hosting a recruit, it's his job to show the high school senior what playing at Nebraska is like from the players perspective. There is only so much a coach can really do and say before it feels real.
Smith says he relishes the opportunity and will continue to help in the success of Nebraska recruiting if called upon.
"Most players are not from here, so it's a great chance to show them all the great things that are going on. I'm going to be straight forward with them, no matter if they are from Louisiana, California, Texas, it doesn't matter," said Smith. "I'm telling the ins and outs. I'm going to be completely honest, so they know what they are getting into. We want to bring in guys to help us out and continue the tradition here.
"I try to get them around the team as much as possible. I introduce them to the guys or get them around as many as possible. If I know there is a team event or a place where a lot of players are going to be, that is where I take them. They want to see the town, I will show them the town as well, but it's 95% of the time around the guys."