Rob Smith adapts to center

Nine days ago, he was all set to be a starting guard in Tennessee's Sept. 3 football opener. Now it appears he'll be the starting center.

With injuries to David Ligon (high-ankle sprain) and Richie Gandy (bruised kneecap) robbing the Vols of their top two centers last week, junior Rob Smith moved over from guard to fill the void in Saturday night's scrimmage. It was a new experience for him.

"I practiced there a little my freshman year," he said. "But, as far as it being real live bullets (a game-type situation), this was my first time, except for a few plays at the end of the last scrimmage. This was my first time to start at center and play center all the way through."

UT head coach Phillip Fulmer thought Smith did a fine job at the new position. Smith thought so, too.

"I thought I did pretty good," he said. "I had a couple of MAs (missed assignments) and a couple of mental mistakes because you have to see things differently at center. It was stuff I knew; I'd just never seen it (from that perspective) before."

Although Gandy and/or Ligon could be back in time for the opener, Smith appears to be the No. 1 option at center for the moment. He's preparing with that mindset.

"The biggest thing for me these next two weeks is to see as much stuff as possible, be put in as many situations (at center) as possible," Smith said. "But, as far as the footwork and blocking, I felt comfortable."

Asked how he handled a half-dozen or so shotgun snaps, Smith smiled.

"They were all good shotgun snaps," he said. "I was happy about not having any of them messed up."

Inside Tennessee Top Stories