A Light Conversation

Undersized or not, Jacques Smith has grown into a prominent player for Tennessee's football team. The former Ooltewah High School star enrolled at UT in January with hopes of contributing early in his college career. But at the same time, Smith was realistic. He expressed concern that he might not be big enough to play defensive end, suggesting that a move to linebacker might be in order.

Fast forward to September. A mere nine months later Smith finds himself still on the defensive line, playing defensive end and (feel free to gasp) defensive tackle. Against Alabama-Birmingham last week, Smith's speed showed up as he registered two quarterback hurries along with a solo tackle.

Here I spoke to the "small" freshman who is having a big impact:

Dave Hooker: How do you think you've played this year?

Jacques Smith: Me, I've done alright. There are a lot of things I can work on. There are a lot of things I need to improve, and I really want to perfect my game and my coaches know that I do. I'm a perfectionist, and I still make little mistakes that kind of make me really mad as a player. Then at the same time I got to understand that I'm new at this.

Hooker: Size wise, you were concerned coming in to school in January about your weight. How big are you now?

Smith: Right now I'm 245.

Hooker: Would you like to be a little bigger eventually?

Smith: Yes I would. I was 250 at the beginning of camp. Since then I've been losing weight up and down. It's been crazy. Me and (strength and conditioning) coach Bennie Wylie, we've been trying to keep my weight on the right track so I won't go below that 240 mark again.

Hooker: What do you eat in a day to make sure your weight is up?

Smith: I try to eat anything. I really drink a lot of protein shakes. My teammates make fun of me because I always drink a Muscle Milk protein shake whenever I'm walking around.

Hooker: So how many calories do you think you consume a day this time of year?

Smith: Probably like 6,000.

Hooker: 6,000! That's like Michael Phelps.

Smith: Yeah. I got to have that much man, or my body will break down.

Hooker: Ok. For the record. I was told by one of your High School teammates that you prefer to be called 'Jock' but everyone is calling you Jacques now. Clear it up for me. Which one is it?

Smith: No. I do prefer 'Jock', but if you are going to call me by my name, it's Jacques (with the 'Q' pronounced), not Jack-ez like coach (Derek) Dooley would say.

Hooker: When he's mispronouncing your name have you ever said "No that's not the way you pronounce it."?

Smith: Yeah. But coach Dooley, he's a really good guy. He just makes fun of me. It's just like a little teasing thing. It's really cool.


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