Finally, senior quarterback Brandon Smith can stop looking over his shoulder.
Smith was named the top quarterback coming out of spring practice by coach David Elson and Elson affirmed that place today, officially saying Smith has won the starting job for the Sept. 5 season opener at Tennessee. Elson and his staff had seen enough after this morning's practice to come to a decision.
"He's earned it and been the most consistent over a long period of time, through spring and through these first seven practices," Elson said. "Those other guys are all really good athletes and we're gonna try to figure out some ways to be creative and get him the ball and keep him involved and get him the ball."
Since fall camp began Aug. 10, he's been in a three-way battle with redshirt freshmen Marcus Vasquez and Kawaun Jakes. Instead of succumbing to the competition, Smith embraced it.
"I'm not just saying this, I'm really proud of those other guys," Smith said. "They came in and they could've just folded over. Some quarterbacks do that. You see it when there's a guy going into camp, but they didn't do that. They kept fighting every single day and coming back. They're gonna be good quarterbacks one day. The future's really looking bright at the quarterback position."
Smith has also shown a higher level of poise and looked more comfortable commanding the offense in fall practice so far.
"I'm a senior now and I feel like it's part of my job with the 13 other (seniors)," he said. "We've got seniors to lead this team. If you're gonna be a leader, you've gotta be comfortable, you've gotta feel comfortable and that's just part of the job of leading the team."
With Elson's blessing, it's Smith's team now. And Smith is acting like that leader already.
"Even today, I noticed and maybe I was looking a little bit more, but he seemed like the man," Elson said. It's his offense and he knows that he's the leader out there."
Check out more on InsideHilltopperSports.com's Facebook page for photos from today's two-a-day practice.