By Will Vandervort.
Is there a better person to lead a team than Robert Smith?
The Clemson safety has done it all in his four years in Tigertown. Besides talent the senior is also very smart, he is disciplined, he plays with great passion and he is always willing to help his teammates out.
“Robert’s leadership is second to none,” Clemson defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said. “There are a lot of things that he does that nobody will ever know because Rob is always working. He is driven.”
Smith’s driven mentality is one reason why he is second on the team with 76 tackles, two tackles for loss and one interception this season. This is coming off a season in which had 79 tackles as a junior, which ranked fourth on the team, as well as recorded two sacks, five passes broken up and one interception.
“Robert is as solid as it gets and he is getting better,” Jarrett said. “He did not play defense until he got to college so he has not even scratched the surface yet. He works harder than anybody I know.”
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables loves having a guy like Smith in his secondary.
“Robert has always been a model of consistency and football is important,” Venables said. “This program is important and he is this selfless guy that cares every bit for his teammates and the success of our team has much as he does for himself.
“Having him is huge.”
Smith is just one reason why Clemson leads the nation in total defense heading into the Dec. 29 Russell Athletic Bowl vs. Oklahoma and ranks in the top 10 in nine other defensive categories.
“I have always done everything the best I could,” the strong safety said. “I know if I’m not the fastest, I think my knowledge has always made up for that. It allows me to play fast to the ball. I have always worked hard and that is something my dad instilled in me since I was young.”
That’s why Smith spent most of his time in the film room watching film on himself and his opponent. He also takes his work home with him and studies every chance he gets on his iPad.
“The young guys are always asking me what I do,” Smith said. “They ask me what I do at night. They want to know what I’m doing to do the things that I do. The coaches like certain things that I’m doing. It’s not because I’m doing something big. I do the small things that lead to the big things. You have to gain trust. That is something I learned when I got to college – to gain trust.
“You can go out there and make a play and make two plays, but if you bust five, that will not make up for it. They know I’m going to do the right thing and that I’m going to be here on time so that is up to me to come out here and work each and every day and if I don’t do that then I feel like I let them down.”