Georgia junior defensive back Christopher Smith played extensively for this first time in his career in the 27-6 win over Auburn this past weekend.
In his previous two seasons, he’s seen limited action, but got the chance to play after senior free safety Richard LeCounte was ejected from the game for a questionable targeting penalty. When given the opportunity, Smith shined recording three total tackles and two quarterback pressures as the Bulldogs dominated the Tigers.
According to head coach Kirby Smart, he wasn’t surprised Smith was ready for the limelight.
“[Smith] actually got a lot more reps last week [in practice] because Richard [LeCounte] was banged up. Chris was more prepared to play than probably he ever has been,” Smart said. “It was pretty unique that [Smith] got to go in after getting all of those reps—and that he got to go in and play there in the late first half, second half.”
LeCounte was ejected from the game with just under four minutes to go in the first half, and that’s when Smith took over at free safety.
Smith’s first tackle of the night came in the third quarter when him and Tyrique Stevenson contained Auburn’s Anthony Schwartz to just five yards. Two plays later, the duo again stopped Schwartz from breaking free for six. Later in the contest, Smith wrapped up Tigers’ freshman running back Tank Bigsby after a 15-yard run on third down, The very next play is when Bo Nix was picked off by Mark Webb.
Smith said after last week’s practices, he was ready to play.
“Throughout the week, Coach Smart had been telling me I had good practices, and he felt like I was ready to play,” Smith said. “There was a lot of communication going on from the coaches to the players. So it made things very easy for me.”
Smith, a former four-star out of Atlanta, was recruited as a cornerback out of high school. After arriving on campus, he was soon moved to safety. Although not having a lot of experience at the position, Smith was determined to take on the challenge.
“When I came here, I was at cornerback and Coach [Glenn] Schumann felt I was smart enough and versatile enough to play safety. At first, it was a hard transition,” said Smith. “It took three or four months for me to adjust to the position, but after that, it was smooth sailing.”
The Hapeville Charter product played in all 14 games last season as a sophomore totaling seven tackles. He has participated in both games so far this season, and expect him to be ready if he is called upon again.
“I know I always need to be ready, we have a next man mentality here and the coaches are always preaching for me to be ready for my time,” Smith said. “I’m always ready when I step in, to do what I have to do to help the team.”