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Scott Smith: Linebacker matures “physically and mentally” at ND

Deirdre Krasula | Friday, November 21, 2008

What you see is what you get. At least that’s what senior linebacker Scott Smith thinks about himself.

“I like to think I’m a pretty simple guy,” Smith said.

But even though Smith isn’t the most boisterous presence in the room, he’s made himself known over his years on the field, improving as the years went on.

As a freshman Smith saw field time primarily from special teams. But his first tackle for Notre Dame was one that came at a crucial moment on a reverse against Michigan. And even though Smith’s tackle was a big one, adjusting to the college game wasn’t necessarily an easy thing.

“When I came in as a freshman I kind of didn’t know what to expect, everything was a lot faster, the guys were a lot bigger, the things you usually hear when you first play college football,” Smith said.

But with three years under his belt, things looks a little different.

“I think I’ve matured both physically and mentally and just having the opportunity is something I’ve just kind of relished, every time I’ve gone out there just to practice, being able to put that gold helmet on every week is a special feeling and one that I’m going to appreciate for a long time.”

Smith didn’t see the field in 2006, but he was back and stronger in his junior season. Smith saw action in all 12 games and recorded a career-best 18 tackles (seven solo).

And so far Smith is on track to match last year. 2008 has brought Smith playing time in 10 games along with 9 tackles (seven solo). And not having played in 2006 leaves the question open for a fifth year of eligibility. But Smith isn’t thinking about that quite yet.

“Right now I’m just focused on finishing out the rest of the season strong and finishing this game against Syracuse,” Smith said. “It’s a possibility and its something I’ve thought about and considered, but when the time comes make a decision, but now, worry about the rest of the season and finish this season out strong and kind of worry about it after that.”

With Brian Smith out, this Smith is likely to see a lot of playing in what could possibly be his last home game – both on special teams and at linebacker. And transitioning back and forth between the two has never been a problem.

“It’s really just staying in game mode because no matter what you’re doing you really just have to stay attacking you have to play physical you have to play fast,” Smith said. “A lot of what you do on defense transfers over to special teams and vice-versa, just being able and willing to go and make a play when you’re number’s called, and that’s something I’ve just tried to do is go out there and make things happen to help this team win.”

A home win that could possible be the last one Smith sees as a student-athlete. With a fifth year not a guarantee, Smith has started thinking about life beyond the gridiron – a possible career in consulting.

Both being a student and a player at Notre Dame has allowed Smith to realize that no matter what happens a year from now, he’ll be ready.

“I know that this place prepared me to do well whatever I decide to do after I leave here. I’ll be confident that I’ll find the right fit for me,” Smith said.

But like every Notre Dame student, senior year is bittersweet. And even though Smith may be leaving his golden helmet behind, he’ll also be leaving the Golden Dome soon – and that’s something every student can appreciate.

“Being on campus, walking around, seeing the dome, kind of just being around everyone, being around you’re friends, being around your peers that you’ve been here with for four years and gone to class with everyday and studied with and hung out with, that whole atmosphere is something that you can never quite have again,” Smith said.

Sweet and simple from player who tells it how it is.