A four-star recruit out of Norfolk (VA) Lake Taylor High School, it would have been easy for Smith to take the wrong attitude towards the staff's decision to redshirt him. But Smith readily admits that he didn't have a good enough grasp of the offense at the beginning of the year and that sitting out was in his best interest.
"Everybody has their place their first year," Smith said. "In my case I didn't understand the offense really well so sitting out last year and working with the scout team helped me out a lot as far as getting to know the offense."
With a year on the scout team under his belt, the redshirt freshman is hoping to contribute this season. He certainly doesn't lack the physical tools to compete for playing time right away, as the 6-4, 200-pounder was one of the Pack's most highly-rated recruits in the 2007 class – spurning offers from Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Tennessee to play in Raleigh.
But from the day he arrived in fall camp last year, he's been unwilling to rest on his physical tools. He listened – not just to his coaches but to the veteran receivers on the squad.
"We have a really deep receiving squad and we have a lot of experienced guys that the younger guys look up to," Smith said. "Donald Bowens, Geron [James], Owen Spencer - those guys know what's going on and have all that experience at the collegiate level that we don't have. They help [the younger guys] out as far as learning how to read coverages, things like that. It really pays off to listen to them."
The veterans on the team have a grasp of the lineage of great players that have played wide receiver for the Wolfpack over the last decade. They can turn the TV on every Sunday and catch Torry Holt making plays, or Jerricho Cotchery, or Koren Robinson. The work ethic of guys like John Dunlap and Brian Clark remains ingrained in the minds of those players.
According to Smith they bring that work ethic to practice every day and its something the younger guys notice.
"We look at how hard those guys work, and we try to come out and work just as hard," Smith said. "We just try to keep up with the pace – they usually come out here and set the pace for the younger guys and we just try to follow that and hope we get better."
Keeping up with the older players translated into his summer and spring workouts as well, where he tried to improve at every aspect of his game.
"You need all of it in order to be successful in a game," Smith said. "I just tried to do all those things – hands, speed, routes – just trying to put it all together and be a better wide receiver."
With fall camp in full swing now, Smith knows exactly what his goals are between now and opening night at Columbia. And, not surprising, learning was still at the top of his list.
"Just trying to learn and figure out our responsibilities and just be productive on the field for this team," Smith said.