Clemson linebacker Chad Smith was all smiles when talking about his upcoming final season with the Tigers earlier this week.
The graduate student out of Sterling, Virginia is looking to be a key component in Clemson’s defense as they look toward another season and the chance to make more waves in college football.
Smith on current position at linebacker
“Right now, I am at WILL. Being here and going into my fifth year, it’s definitely helped a lot knowing all three positions— MIKE, WILL, and SAM. Coach [Mike] Reed thought that I could be very useful there and that my strengths would be very good there.”
Smith on Coach (Brent) Venables’ message after Shaq Smith’s departure
“You’re the guy. You’re it right here, so go make the most of it. It’s an opportunity right there. Either way, whether he was here or not, there’s still an opportunity to compete every single day, so that’s what my mindset is. Even if he’s gone, there’s other young guys trying to push me for that job. Everyone’s trying to push for a job in camp because no one has a job here yet. That’s the mindset each and every day that there’s an opportunity to solidify you as a person that can play more snaps.”
Smith on hunger going into camp
“After last year, it was a historic season, but we are kind of coming into this camp with a chip on our shoulder. We’re not trying to rely on last year’s success for this year’s success because that’s just not how things go. You can’t carry over last year’s touchdowns or last year’s sacks to this year. We had a lot of great leaders leave, so people are kind of doubting us a little bit seeing how many big-time players left for the draft. We kind of have a chip on our shoulder to prove that we are still relevant, we are still here, and we are going to make another run for it.”
Smith on eagerness of freshmen linebacker group
“They are eager. They really want to learn and are asking a lot of questions. They really want to learn and it’s definitely going by extremely fast for them and we’ve all been there: Jamie [Skalski], Isaiah [Simmons], and myself. Both those guys that have a good grasp on defense and have been there, so I know for a fact both of them are getting lots of questions as well. I’m proud of these guys, but we have to keep grinding. We are still in the middle of camp and have to keep pushing it.”
Smith on the coaches’ message this year versus other years
“Each year, we believe that we have a target on our back. We felt that way last year and felt that way the year before. We feel that we have set the standard here for college football. We’ve been contenders each and every year and have played in the national championship three out of the last four years, so the message is the same: continue to be who we are. Each and every day, put our best foot forward and continue to improve. Don’t be complacent, don’t settle for anything because nothing is going to be given to us. Everybody’s going to come out and play Clemson with a bigger chip on their shoulder than they would on an ordinary team.”