When Smith thinks back on his career as a Red Raider he cannot help but reflect on, "How much fun I've had here. How much I enjoyed being around the guys on our team and the coaches. I'm glad I got an education here. I'm just glad to be a Red Raider and play for this school."
For other members of the same recruiting class as Smith and Duckett, 2004 has not been all they had hoped for. Nehemiah Glover came into this season as one of two starting seniors on the receiving corps and easily one of the most feared receivers in all of the Big 12. His lightening-quick, break away speed and sure hands were noticed in the preseason by not only coaches in the Big 12, but nationally as well. For Glover, his senior season looked very promising.
Still, for some reason, Glover was not able to find the end zone in the first couple of games. It wasn't until almost the middle of October before senior quarterback Sonny Cumbie connected with Glover for 6 points during the 70-10 rout of Nebraska at Jones SBC stadium. Then, on the day before Halloween at Kansas State, Glover suffered what seems to be a season ending leg injury, although Mike Leach refuses to release information on injuries. In recent games the big-play, clutch wideout has been seen standing on the sideline in street clothes and crutches with a giant boot on his leg. Probably not exactly what he expected for his 2004 campaign as a Red Raider and as Cumbie points out his absence has been noticed.
"He's still very much a part of our team," Cumbie said. "We miss him and hope he recovers quickly."
For 5th year head coach Mike Leach this group of seniors was his first recruiting class as the Texas Tech University coach and therefore they have a special place in his heart.
"I think it's a tremendous group of players from the standpoint that we had just barely gotten here, so that recruiting year is always tough," Leach said. "We were still on probation at that point. What impresses me the most about this group is the way they fought through some of that stuff, because almost all of them had to play early. They did some things that were very difficult and did it well."
This week's game against conference rival Oklahoma State is bigger than anyone in West Texas can imagine. Monetarily, it is the difference between hundreds of thousands of dollars for the school and conference. If Tech wins, they are headed to a minimum of the Alamo bowl whereas if the Red Raiders lose they will likely be headed to one of the lowest tier bowls offered to a Big 12 team.
Last year Tech and OSU got involved in an offensive showcase ending in a 51-49 victory for the Cowboys which included nearly 1000 total yards of combined offense. Fans, players and coaches of both teams left Lewis Field absolutely exhausted from all the excitement in the fourth quarter and in the end, the Cowboys walked off the field with a "W" to notch on their belt.
Linebacker Mike Smith still has nightmares of OSU running wildly while putting up what Barry Switzer used to call "hangin' a half-a-hundred" on the helpless Tech D. This year Smith hopes things will be a different story.
"They've got a great offense," said Smith. "They have a good running back, a good quarterback and a couple good receivers. They're a big threat. The quarterback can scramble and make big plays. We just have to be sound on defense and don't give them big plays, and work together as a unit."
This year the Red Raider head man has really emphasized the importance of playing all 4 four quarters and in his own words "all three sides of the ball."
"I don't really know how it will play out, but they're a good team. The biggest thing is to sustain concentration for four quarters and do that as a team from top to bottom and see where it takes you."