Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Smith Goes from Walk-On to Walking Tall at FSU

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Smith Goes from Walk-On to Walking Tall at FSU

Article excerpt

TALLAHASSEE -- Arms waving wildly as he stomps around the

defensive teammates to step up to the challenge.

Smith assesses the situation through piercing black eyes as

Clemson breaks the huddle. The Tigers are threatening --

first-andgoal from the FSU 9 -- and the Seminoles' 6-0 lead is

in jeopardy late in the opening quarter Saturday night. His job

is to read and react.

"They audibled off," Smith said. "Actually, it's the same play

that I broke my arm [last year]. I knew the option was coming."

Smith springs into action, covering 10 yards in an instant,

dropping Clemson tailback Raymond Priester for a 5-yard loss

with a shuddering tackle. The Tigers settle for a field goal

three plays later, their only points in a 34-3 loss.

"I hit him the same way I hit C.J. Williams, but I just

happened to break my arm," he said, describing his season-ending

play against Georgia Tech last year. "We were trying to get a

shutout. I'll go every week, no matter who we play, to get a

shutout.

"The closer they get to our end zone, I take it personally."

Smith, a fourth-year junior and first-year starter, carries

that same attitude into Saturday's game at No. 6 Miami (3:30

p.m.). He has arranged tickets for 30 family members and friends

to attend his first game in the Orange Bowl, where the Seminoles

haven't won since Smith was 9 and playing Optimist Football in

Dade County.

"I think it will be a more emotional game for me than even

anybody from Miami, because I came from lit erally noth ing,"

Smith said. "From the situation I came in, if we can just

pull this win off, it would proba bly be the greatest feeling

in my life."

Clawing his way from walk-on to scholarship player and starter

on the nation's third-rated defense, Smith has defied the odds.

Neither FSU nor Miami -- Smith's two favorite teams -- was

interested in a 5-foot-11, 175-pound all-state defensive end

from Miami's Southridge High in 1993. Determined to prove

recruiters wrong, he walked on at FSU.

"Shevin is a guy who had a lot of setbacks," FSU defensive

coordinator and secondary coach Mickey Andrews said. …

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