Smith delivering on a promise

by - Senior Writer -
"I made myself a promise to bring it every single day." - Robert Smith (TigerNet Staff)

CLEMSON – Robert Smith isn’t into making promises to his teammates, coaches or fans because he knows that those can be the easiest to break.

So when it came time to decide the kind of player he wanted to be at Clemson, he made a promise he knew he would have to keep, and he made it to the only person that matters: himself.

During his first two years at Clemson, Smith logged 163 snaps over 27 games – including one start – with 23 tackles and one interception. Playing behind Jonathan Meeks at safety allowed him to see the game from a different perspective, to watch and learn.

Meeks was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in April, and Smith knew that the chance to start and make a difference not only in the secondary but with his entire team was within his grasp.

So he made a promise to himself to be the best player he could be, every day.

“I just try to bring it every day. At the beginning of the year, I made myself a promise to bring it every single day. No days off,” Smith told TigerNet Monday evening after practice. “Just do whatever I can to be the best I can be, and then I want to make everybody else around me better. I have been doing a lot to be consistent myself and bring positive energy every day.”

Smith said that sitting behind Meeks had its moments, but he never let the lack of playing time get in the way of learning the position.

“It wasn’t frustrating at all. Of course, I wanted to play a little bit more, but it is a process,” he said. “You start one way and work your way to the top. I kept a level head. Of course, everybody wants to play, but you have to keep a level head. God has a process for all of us. It was a learning curve for me. I got to learn good things and bad things. I won’t say I was frustrated. It humbled me, too.”

The hard work and dedication paid off, and defensive coordinator Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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said late last month that Smith and fellow safety Travis Blanks had earned his trust. Smith said he doesn’t take that trust lightly.

“It is always good when a defensive coordinator has trust in you,” he said. “That is how you get on the field. I don’t believe a coach would play a player that he doesn’t trust. To me, that just motivates me more to work harder. I don’t see myself as the best yet. I know I have to work harder every day.”

Smith said that he and Blanks worked hard over the summer to turn the secondary – the question mark of the defense – into a positive.

“We decided we wanted to change that identity. We didn’t want that question mark anymore,” he said. “So me and Travis said that we were going to do whatever it took to erase that question mark. Travis and I try to push everybody. On Saturdays throughout the summer, we had what we called Sacrifice Saturdays. It wasn’t mandatory, and we would just go out to the stadium for 45 (minutes) or an hour. We were just doing little work – catching 500 balls or just doing the little things to get better. Just to erase that question mark.”

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