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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Get to Know: Branden Smith

Each week, we've been talking with some of Georgia's incoming freshmen to get an idea of what they're like away from the field. This week, we check in with superstar recruit Branden Smith, who will be counted on to compete for a starting cornerback job this fall, but is also being tabbed as a solution to Georgia's shortage at wide receiver. Smith has shown he's a tremendous athlete -- both on the football field and on the track -- and said he's up to the job of learning two playbooks, but when he's not staying busy with that, what's he all about?

David Hale: The name a lot of people seem to what to compare you to for obvious reasons is Champ Bailey. Champ played both sides of the ball at Georgia, much like you're planning to do. Would you compare yourself to him or do you have any other players that you really look up to in the NFL?

Branden Smith: I'm not going to say I have a favorite NFL player, but I have role models. I'm not saying I want to be like them, but at the same time, I'm trying to be better. You learn from the great players and study them.

DH: So have you tried to track down any of those guys -- particularly the ones who have been through learning both ends of a playbook the way you're about to have to do?

BS: Not really, but I have talked to Hines Ward. He had a camp here, and I wanted to show my face, show my respect. He's one of the best receivers in the NFL right now, and with him being a Georgia alumni, that's good. He gave me some tips and everything.

DH: Beyond football, you're also quite the athlete on the track. I know Geno Atkins has played football at Georgia and thrown shotput for the track & field team in the spring. Have you thought about running track at Georgia, too?

BS: I've thought about it, yes. But my mind's still saying yes, but right now I'm focused on football. I'm trying to see how my first year of football goes. If everything goes right, I'll run track and play football. But I'm just trying to get things straight right now and adjust to the college level and concentrate on football.

DH: OK, so you're an amazing athlete. But has there ever been a sport you've struggled at?

BS: I would have to say soccer. Doing a lot of running -- basically I just did soccer to stay in shape for football and track -- but you know, it's hard to run and kick the ball at the same time.

DH: How about when you get away from playing sports, what do you like to do for fun?

BS: I would say relaxing. I just like relaxing and hanging out with my friends.

DH: If you could meet any celebrity, who would it be?

BS: I would have to say Michael Jordan. I've got a lot of respect for him from basketball. He's one of the best players ever in the game, and I just like his character.

DH: Did you have any nicknames in high school?

BS: People called me Speedy and Prime Time. That's probably it.

DH: If there are two positions on the football field that are known for smack talking, it's probably wide receiver and defensive back. You play both. So does that mean you're a big smack talker on the field?

BS: I'm a big smack talker. It's nothing bad. Sometimes, playing DB, you've got to try to get in a receiver's head, get him off his game, so that's what I try to do. It's nothing bad. You can be my best friend, but time for game time, you're my enemy, and I'm trying to get in your head. Anything I can do to win, that's what I'm going to do -- but in a good way.

DH: How about the other way around? What's the worst smack talk you've heard from an opponent?

BS: I really haven't had any player really smack talk me. I've had coaches in high school smack talk me. I played against one high school whose coach smack talked me saying he had two rings. But that's about it. I wasn't intimidated though. It's all about the game, and I'm there to have fun. Nothing's going to intimidate me.

DH: I know you just got to campus this week, but what's some of the best advice you got along the way before getting to Athens? Have you been talking to a lot of the current players?

BS: Every day, I talk to A.J. Green. I talk to Prince Miller, Reshad Jones, Vance Cuff, Brandon Boykin. The one thing they've been telling me is to work hard and don't give up. If you're tired, stay fighting. Don't ever show anybody that you're tired. Also, playing DB, if you get beat deep, come back the next play, keep your head up and keep playing. The thing is, by playing DB, you're going to get beat. So just come back on the next play and don't do it again.

DH: You mentioned A.J. Green. Has he been giving you some tips on playing receiver or is he holding back a bit to make sure he can still burn you in practice? How is that relationship working out?

BS: It's going to work out good. He's going to give me tips because he's my teammate. Hiding things from a teammate isn't a good thing because he wants to win and I want to win. I'm going to learn from him, and looking at him, following him, following what he does is going to make me better, even on the other side of the ball on defense. He's one of the best receivers in the game, and seeing what he's doing and then playing defense, I can learn even more.

DH: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

BS: I would say Hawaii. Playing in the Hawaii Bowl and just going to Hawaii -- my brother went there when he was playing at UAB, and he was talking about how nice it was there and things like that. I think that would be a good place for me.

DH: On the subject of travel, you made a lot of recruiting trips and had a lot of schools interested in you. What eventually drew you to Georgia and what was the worst recruiting experience you had?

BS: Really what made me come to Georgia was the coaching staff and academics. Academics are very important to me. I knew all the coaches, I knew their backgrounds, I met their family. That's one thing you have to know -- going to a school, you want to go to a good school where you're going to have fun and get an education. I think Georgia was the right place for me. And then you want the worst?

DH: Yeah, was there any one experience that you really left with a sour taste in your mouth?

BS: I would have to say Georgia Tech. I went out there for one of their spring games and it seemed like the coaches weren't interested in me or anything. They didn't pay me any attention. I'm not saying I was better than anyone else and deserved the most attention, but they didn't say anything to me. So I would have to say visiting Georgia Tech.

DH: Well, now that you're here, what are you most excited or concerned about for the coming months?

BS: Basically just learning the plays and trying to get through practice and camp and do my best.

DH: So have you set any goals for yourself on offense or defense?

BS: The only goal I have is to win a national championship.


chris said...

Tech ignores Branden Smith? That is crazy. one of the top five players in the state. I guess they knew they had no chance.

Anonymous said...

I'm loving the fact that his only goal is to win a NC.