Aug. 17, 2009
By: Jonathan Hill, Texas Media Relations
After losing close to 35 pounds this off-season, junior Greg Smith is geared up for another season of Texas football. Except this year, he’ll start the season at a different position -- again.
Smith, a fourth-year player from Montgomery, Texas, came out of high school as a tight end. Since then, he has played center, offensive tackle, and also snapped place kicks for the Longhorns. All the while, he adapted himself for whatever role best suited the team.
“I came in originally to college around 220 to 225 and played tight end,” Smith said. “Then they asked me to gain weight and help out on the offensive line, so I went from about 240 at the time to 305, my heaviest. I played the season at center, tackle, wherever they needed me. Then, I was asked to move back to tight end, so I’ve lost 30 to 35 pounds.“
After starting the 2008 season at offensive tackle, Smith was asked to move back to tight end to help fill the gap after Blaine Irby’s season-ending knee injury early that year. He went to work immediately.
“I just tried to eat a lot healthier,” Smith said. “Then after workouts, I would get on a treadmill and run more, and try to work out after we worked out and really tried to lose the weight.”
Having gone through his time with the offensive line, Smith gained a skill set he can use to his advantage at tight end. His experience at different positions has allowed him to catch like a receiver, while still being able to block like a lineman.
“I’m trying to be a versatile tight end,” Smith said. “I want to bring the skills I got from playing offensive line for a year with Coach (Mac) McWhorter, learning more techniques for blocking, and then add that to my original skills of using soft hands and catching the football.”
It is a combination that will provide versatility for offensive coordinator Greg Davis when Smith is on the field in 2009.
“I don’t think there’s any question that the amount of reps you get blocking inside helps you when you move back out to the tight end position,” Davis said. “I think that’s going to be a big plus for him.”
Davis is excited about where Smith is with both his weight and his game.
“He’s got his weight down,” Davis said. “He’s playing with more balance than he was, because he’s in a different spot. He’s having a nice camp.”
After a full off-season of lowering his weight, Smith admits his biggest adjustment is learning to play within his current body size and focusing on using his agility, as opposed to his size.
“I’m now having to say, ‘I’m not 305 anymore,’” Smith said. “I can’t lean as much. I have to use my agility, use my steps, and use my technique. It’s coming. I can tell the difference every day. It’s starting to come back to my more natural body type and my more natural skills.”
As it always has with Smith, it’s coming just when the Longhorns need it.