Clemson linebacker Chad Smith isn’t letting any of the outside noise distract him or his teammates heading into their Fiesta Bowl matchup with No. 2 Ohio State on Dec. 28.
Smith on making the playoffs all five years at Clemson
“It’s surreal to be honest with you. I mean, I don’t think it is something that I’ll truly be able to appreciate till I’m a few years away from this place. It’s just surreal and a great feeling that I’ve been a part of a lot of great teams, a lot of great players have been here, and it’s truly just an honor to be part of such a great program.”
Smith on favorite college football moment
“That’s tough. They’re all great, to be honest with you, but I think that first national championship win, I don’t think you can surpass a feeling like that knowing that the year before we were so close and to be able to come back and get back to that moment and be able to pull it out the way we did, in that fashion with the pass with one second and the pass from Deshaun [Watson] to [Hunter] Renfrow, that whole moment, It’s hard to explain that feeling.”
Smith on the different atmosphere heading into the playoffs
“We, at least here at Clemson, we don’t treat any of them differently, I mean each game is a playoff game for us. If we had lost in week four, the odds of us making the playoffs would have been dramatically lower, so we treat each and every game like a playoff game with a playoff mentality. It’s just now we have a lot more attention being in the college football playoff with the media and the hype, that’s kind of what changes it a bit, but for us, our mentality does not change.”
Smith on what it’s been like being one of the senior leaders
“Being a part of the programs over the past five years, I’ve seen a lot of great leaders come in and out of this program. I’ve been able to see how they’ve led and have been able to take bits and pieces of that to pass on to the younger guys as I’ve gotten older. Being able to demonstrate and lead by example, both on and off the field, is how we as a collective group lead these guys. We show them the ropes when they first get here and what the expectation is of them, both on and off the field, and expect them to rise to the standard. As you know, best is the standard here, so that’s both on and off the field, personal life, academics, practice preparation, and so that’s just kind of how I’ve been taught and how it was for me, so I’m just trying to pass it down just like that.”
Smith on Don Munson comparing him to coach Brent Venables
“I guess really it’s just coach Venables is a very intense, very focused, very driven individual and I would say the same about me, but just kind of in a different way. He shows it a little bit, but I kind of keep it in. Over the past five years with me redshirting my freshman year and then just buying my time and waiting for my opportunity to start, I had to stay driven, committed, focused, and still had to have the same intensity and preparation each and every day just like coach V. Coach V brings that energy every day to practice, but he just shows it in a little bit of a different way than I do.”
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