In interviews before the opening practice of UGA’s 2022 Fall Camp, we had the opportunity to talk to a vocal leader of the secondary in Chris Smith. He wasn’t always like that, though. This will be Smith’s fifth fall camp in his time at UGA, and the senior safety knows that this go ‘round, things are a little different.
When asked what it’s like going into fall camp compared to years past, Smith explained that he remembers “being severely tired.” He continued saying, “I didn’t recognize the importance of sleep, nutrition, and hydration…” As is the way most things in life go, the longer you do it the more you get used to it. According to Smith, as years passed he began to recognize certain things and was able to get a better grasp of his routine – seeing what worked best for him and running with it. From the sound of it, it seemed that the Atlanta native was getting used to the motions that come with Fall Camp, but he immediately clarified saying that it’s “never easy at all, but it gets a little bit easier as you go.”
Recently there’s been a big shift for the veteran defender. With so many prominent defensive players gone, Smith has had to transition into a larger leadership role to help uplift the guys under him. He details this transition by saying, “I’m taking on a different role…trying to be more of a leader and trying to pull those young guys up.”
Smith’s efforts as a leader aren’t going unnoticed either. Head Coach Kirby Smart had a lot to say, “Chris has done a great job leading that group. I think he sets the tone each day for the work ethic. He’s been a hard worker since he’s been here.”
His leadership isn’t just displayed on the field. Smith told reporters that with two highly recruited freshman safeties in Malaki Starks and JaCorey Thomas, he’s constantly given the opportunity to be a mentor. “They already have five or six questions at each practice for me. You know, I always take the time to answer those things for them because I want them to get better.”
As if Chris Smith needed further affirmation, both beginning and ending the 2021 season with game-changing interception plays, this offseason has helped him grow beyond the boundaries of the field. He’s been making strides stepping up and becoming a leader on this team. The guys seem to love him, and if the fans forgot about him, they’ll be reminded soon enough.