Mr. Smith goes to defensive end

Senior Nate D. Smith will likely start the season at defensive end for the Temple University football team, a position where he started three games as a sophomore. But a player who has 31 starts at middle linebacker could also find himself moving back to a spot he took over as a freshman and that has been his home for most of his time as an Owl.

Senior Nate D. Smith will likely start the season at defensive end for the Temple University football team, a position where he started three games as a sophomore.

But a player who has 31 starts at middle linebacker could also find himself moving back to a spot he took over as a freshman and that has been his home for most of his time as an Owl.

With juinor Jarred Alwan showing he can handle the middle linebacker position, Smith has made the move to defensive end for his final season – while still working at linebacker as the Owls are a little thin behind their starters.

“He’s kind of a relentless pass rusher, he’s a difference maker over there for us,” said head coach Matt Rhule. “We have some d-linemen out right now, but he also goes back and plays linebacker. He can be a real hybrid threat for us.“

Smith, who is 6-foot, 235 pounds, might not have the size of a traditional defensive end, but he has gladly accepted the new assignment.

“It’s fun, I’m still learning,” said Smith. “From 230 to 300 (the size of an offensive lineman), it’s a big difference but it’s not as big of a difference if I come off the ball, strike the lineman and set the edge. Then I’ll have the advantage.

“You have to have some weight to behind you. You can’t be too light coming off the edges. You have to be quick coming off the edges and have great hand violence.”

Asked if he was happy with the move or if he was doing it because it was best for the team, Smith noted the latter.

“I’m a team guy, I told the coaches I would do it and I’m ready for whatever the coaches throw at me,” said Smith. “I just want to be a dominant defensive end and a great athlete.”

Smith feels Alwan is ready to fill his shoes at middle linebacker, allowing him to move up to the defensive line.

“He’s a great guy, really smart guy, really physical, does what he needs to do, is always in his gap,” said Smith.

Senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich, who has played most of his career beside Smith, feels having his fellow senior move to the defensive line will benefit the Owls.

“Wherever Nate is, you’ll know his presence is there,” said Matakevich. “He’s doing a great job as a rush end. He’s so quick and strong off the ball. Some linemen have no idea what to do.

“He’s just a football player. He doesn’t realize what he’s doing sometimes and it looks unbelievable. He’s a great player and one of keys to our defense. As long as he’s playing well, we’re good.”

No matter where he lines up, Smith feels like he is ready for a big senior season.

“I’m going to go out with a bang,” he said.

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