“10/10 experience -- I’ve had a heck of an experience here,” Smith said. “Built a lot of connections with a lot of coaches and players.”
As a senior, Smith said he has grown tremendously both on and off the field -- especially as a leader -- with the guidance of his coaches and teammates, as well as through his lengthy tenure with the team.
“I’ve just learned a lot about myself as a man,” Smith said. “I even grew into a man while I was here. When you’re 18 (years old), you feel like you’re a man, but you don’t realize until about four or five years later, you were just beginning to become a man.”
Smith’s favorite moment as a Bulldog, excluding the national championship win last season, came when he intercepted a pass and ran it back 74 yards for a score in the 2021 season opener against Clemson, leading Georgia to a win.
“It was just a special moment,” Smith said. “It was a very big play to help the team be able to get a win that day. My mom and my sister were there.”
His brother T.J. Smith had an interception while playing for Kansas State earlier that same day.
“I had to one up my brother and score a touchdown,” Smith said jokingly.
Georgia’s Senior Day will take place Saturday when it faces rival Georgia Tech. Coach Kirby Smart said around 25 players will participate in the Senior Walk.
A win would cement this senior class as the winningest in Bulldog history. It would also secure Georgia’s second consecutive undefeated regular season and continue Smith’s streak of having never lost to Tech.
“It’s definitely something that we have on our mind,” Smith said. “We definitely want to be able to go out and get a win for our team and our seniors and be able to honor our coaches.”
For his performances during his senior campaign, Smith is a finalist for the Bronco Nagurski Award, which is given to the nation’s top defender each year.
“It’s definitely an honor just to be mentioned with the rest of the players that are up for the award as well,” Smith said. “I put in a lot of work to be able to get here.”
Seniors often have a significant impact on the underclassmen and former Georgia safety J.R. Reed was one of Smith’s biggest role models at the beginning of his time at Georgia. Reed was also named a finalist for the Nagurski award in 2019 in his senior season.
“I used to ask a lot of questions to (my mentors), especially J.R.,” Smith said. “J.R. is one of the smartest players I’ve played with to this day, and he just poured so much into me. I just use that and apply it to my game today.”
Smith has been a strong influence as one of the more experienced players on the team. He has the fourth-most tackles on the team this year (43) and one sack, while being tied for the team-high mark with two interceptions.
With 2022 not being his final year of eligibility, Smith will have choices to make following the season. He could enter the draft or return as a sixth-year senior.