March 10, 2010

Sophomore Smith loves competition

The title of Georgia's 'fastest man' won't be decided by any sort of official race or timed dash with stop watches ticking to record every millisecond of every step.

But that doesn't mean - perhaps when the coaches aren't looking - that team bragging rights won't one day be up for grabs.

"I don't know, probably so," smiled sophomore cornerback Branden Smith, who no doubt would be one of the favorites to win the crown. "We all like to compete against each. We all like to have fun no matter who wins or loses. We just love competing."

So, who which Bulldog is the fastest player on the team?

Modesty prohibits the Atlanta native from picking himself, although he did offer a selection of other favorites.

"I don't know, we've still got (Brandon) Boykin, (Vance) Cuff and Jakar (Hamilton) seems pretty fast," Smith said. "We've just got to see."

Bulldog fans certainly saw a good indication of Smith's speed last fall during Week 2 against South Carolina when he electrified the Sanford Stadium crowd with a 61-yard touchdown run.

There was more to come.

Smith finish the season with 17 carries for 208 yards and two scores, proving that he could become that "X-factor" on offense, a player with speed capable of taking it to the house every time he touched the football.

While Smith certainly welcomes the opportunity for more offensive touches this fall, the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder said during a recent interview that he'd be content more on the defensive side if that's where coaches prefer him to be.

Either way, he's not going to complain about his situation.

"I like to play both ways but my main focus is winning," Smith said. "If I have to play more offense to help the team, then that's what I'll do. If I have to play defense more, that's what I'll do."

Due to Georgia's lack depth at corner, look for Smith to focus a bit more on defense than he did last fall.

When the Bulldogs resume spring practice next week, Smith, Boykin, Cuff and Jordan Love will continue working as Georgia's main four cornerbacks until freshman Derrick Owens arrives this summer.

So far, so good:

Smith he and the other defensive backs have gotten off to a good start with new secondary coach Scott Lakatos.

"Just listening to him and everything, he really seems to be a guy who knows what he's talking about," Smith said. "He's put a lot of players in The League and we're looking forward to learning everything that he plans on teaching us."

Lessons are already being learned and different techniques employed.

"Coach Lakatos is real different from Coach (Willie) Martinez. They've both got their ways and he's (Lakatos) teaching us different stuff," Smith said. "Like I said, we're just ready to learn."

For example:

"It's been all about footwork and technique, basically," Smith said. "We're working on all phases, back-peddling, the way we come out of our breaks, back-peddling and turning … Coach Lakatos is teaching it to us all. He's a great teacher."

Smith said the techniques being employed are similar to what he did at Washington High.

"The scheme we're in now, it's one that everybody's looking forward to playing," Smith said. "Linebackers, DBs and especially the guys on the defensive line … We're all looking forward to it."

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