October 26, 2011
Immediate impact for Smith
When training camp came to a close in late August, the Mississippi State coaches knew they would have a hard time keeping true freshman defensive end Preston Smith off the field this fall.
The talent was there and by week five Smith was in the rotation against Georgia.
"At the end of camp (the coaches) told me that if I kept playing hard then I'm going to earn myself some playing time," Smith said. "They told me they didn't want to redshirt me at the beginning of the season but wanted to wait and see. They wanted me to develop into the player that I needed to be."
Smith has remained in the mix at defensive end in each of the past three games making four tackles over that span.
"He earned it," said defensive coordinator Chris Wilson. "There was a need and he filled the need by really what he did on the scout team. It had nothing to do with regular reps. He went over to scout team against our best players and really performed at a high level. You earn your way in our program and all I remember hearing from Coach (Dan) Mullen, Coach (Scott) Sallach and Coach (John) Hevesy was about how well this kid is playing against really good people. We looked at it and he really earned his way over there and has been pretty good for us."
The Stone Mountain, Ga., native had a debut to remember recording his first tackle in his native state in Athens against Georgia in front of a host of his family.
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