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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

From the Mailbag: Smith Isn't a Star Yet

The first 10 days of camp have been a bit of a whirlwind -- not just for the freshmen, but for me, too. I have to sneak out of town for two days over the weekend, and I have a few extra stories than normal on the docket ths week, so it's been busy, and I've been trying to squeeze in as much as possible. But that doesn't mean some things don't slip through the cracks, as reader Steven F. pointed out in this email...

He writes: "Thanks for all the updates and hard work you do covering Georgia. Arguably Georgia's highest rated recruit this season has been conspicuously absent from almost all of the blogs and updates. I think the only mentions I have seen of Branden Smith were both in regards to his jersey number. Any update on his progress? Charles, Ealey and Brown are getting all the ink, but I thought this kid would be getting the star treatment as well."

Excellent point, Steven. Not sure how Branden fell through the cracks, but let's remedy the problem.

As Steven points out, few recruits arrived on campus with much more impressive credentials than Smith, but as he readily admits, all that hype didn't amount to much upon his arrival.

"Coming in, I didn't know anything," Smith said. "I thought I knew it all, but I didn't know anything. I'm still trying to get the basics down."

The adjustments started immediately.

When Smith arrived, he hadn't been in a gym in nearly a year, he said. To be honest, he simply didn't like lifting weights. But strength-and-conditioning coach Dave Van Halanger got to Smith quickly and before long, the gym started to feel like home.

"At first I didn't like it when I came in, but I see myself growing, getting bigger, getting stronger, so it's helped a lot," Smith said.

That's what the past two months have been all about for Smith. While most fans were expecting immediate results, he's simply working on building a strong foundation.

"Branden's doing good, he's learning, he's not making big picks and stuff like people might expect him, too, but that's going to come as he learns the system," said Smith's fellow cornerback and roommate, Brandon Boykin. "He's being patient, and he's going to get it soon."

Head coach Mark Richt raved about Smith's speed and athleticism, which he said make Smith look a lot smoother already than he probably is.

The key, Richt said, is to combine that natural ability with a strong understanding of Georgia's defense and then -- look out quarterbacks.

"Guys as fast as he is can at times make a mistake, get beat, and then recover quick enough to get back and make a play," Richt said. "But he can't just rely on that ability. He's got to be an expert at his technique and his knowledge, and if he does that, then he can really put that speed and leaping ability and ball-catching ability to use. Instead of recovering and trying to strip the ball out, he'll be in position for an interception."

1 comment:

Watsonator said...

Great stuff! Thanks for taking the effort to put all this together.