Although a record-breaking 15 players from the Bulldogs were taken in the 2022 NFL draft, Smith knew his time with the Bulldogs wasn’t over yet. He still has more to teach his teammates. Just as much as producing on the field is important, Smith knows what his team does off the field matters, too. One message he looks to tell the younger players in the locker room is something that he learned last year in the midst of college football’s changing landscape.
“Playing for your brother next to you,” Smith said. “Not playing for NIL. Not playing to go viral. Not playing for TikTok. Playing for the guy next to you and being able to push with him through tough situations, and in the game, that’ll be something that I’d love to take for the guy’s next year. Don’t play for NIL deals, don’t play for money. Play for the guy next to you, play for your ‘why.’”
As Smith’s final season opener is drawing near, against Oregon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sept. 3, he remains hopeful in what this coming team will bring to the field as they look to defend their title.
“The buy-in is key. Once you have a bunch of guys that buy in and start pulling the rope in the same direction – as we say metaphorically – you get a lot of guys that want to pull that rope in that same direction. … This is the way we do things at Georgia.”
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