ATHENS — Christopher Smith’s strength and playing speed is catching up to the recruiting hype that once followed him to Georgia three years ago.
It’s easy to say every player should stay ready for their opportunity. But in the days of this revolving NCAA portal door, it’s hard enough just to keep a talented player like Smith on the roster. Especially when he was backing up an All-American like Richard LeCounte the past three seasons.
Smith simply didn’t have the experience to come close to filling LeCounte’s shoes when the outgoing UGA star took himself out for the season in a well-documented Halloween Night motorcycle crash.
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Smith’s tackling and football skills were on display the remainder of the season for the Bulldogs. But the talented Smith looked in the mirror and realized he was a bit too light, and a half-step slower than he knew he could be.
The former Atlanta high school area star who once held offers from Alabama, Michigan and Auburn along with Georgia, went to work this offseason.
“I put on about 10 pounds since the season ended and I’m still going, I’m trying to get up to 195, 200,” said Smith, who was listed at 169 pounds when he arrived at UGA. “I felt like I needed to get my weight up so I could be better in the run game coming downhill.
“I felt I was decent, but there’s always room for improvement. I wanted to get my weight up to play tight ends better and tackle those bigger backs.”
Smith is indeed visibly bigger and stronger. It’s reminiscent of the strength and weight games LeCounte made before his junior season of 2019.
Smith sounded very much like a team leader when he said he welcomes the competition in the secondary with the addition of honorable mention All-American safety Tykee Smith, who is transferring in from West Virginia.
RELATED: What adding Tykee Smith means to UGA secondary
“The day he committed I congratulated him and welcomed him to the family,” said Smith, who played his prep football at Hapeville Charter. “The little bit of film I have seen on him, he is a spectacular player. He’s really physical, really great in coverage and things like that. He could definitely help our team. He’s a great player.”
Smith could wind up with a pretty spectacular 2021 himself now that he’s shaken off the rust of not playing and has improved his physique to handle the rigors of SEC football.
Consider, Smith had only 11 tackles in the 19 games he appeared in his first two seasons at UGA, but 17 in the final five games of last season.
Smith’s confidence, and willingness to put the needs of the team first where adding Smith to the competition is concerned, is obvious.
“The competition will be increased in the room, it will force all of us to play better, including him,” Smith said. “Competitiveness is the name of the game. You have to compete day in and day out, that’s what I’m about.”
Georgia safety Christopher Smith