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Switching positions suits Brandon Smith just fine

August 17, 2003|JILL ERWIN

He's moved to a new position, and Brandon Smith is more than ready to show the Missouri coaching staff and fans that he's ready to make it his own.

Smith, a former Lincoln County standout, has moved to outside linebacker from inside linebacker. He spent his high school years playing defensive end, and said he has thoroughly enjoyed the move off the line. He said he is currently practicing with the second team at linebacker.

However, he's also looking forward to showing what he's capable of doing.

Smith is entering his third season after redshirting his first year in Columbia, and said he thinks this is the year he can really make his mark.

"I haven't had a full opportunity yet to show what I'm capable of," Smith said. "This year will probably be the year for me to get out there and show what I have."

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What he has is a whole lot more mass. Smith said he has added 30-35 pounds of muscle since leaving Stanford, has toned his body up more and has even gotten faster. He is listed as 6-2, 220 pounds and worked out four days a week this summer for three hours or more per day.

Smith also knows that if he plans on making it to the next level, he's going to need to get even stronger.

"I'm working on thinking further down the line to my future," Smith said. "You look at outside linebackers in the NFL, and they're weighing 230-235 pounds. I'm working on picking up weight and keeping my speed down or even getting a little faster."

The game is also faster, as Smith has adjusted to the change from high school football to the Big 12.

"Everybody is so fast," Smith said. "Every team shows up with their best players every week. There are no slow guys out there."

That speed combined with his move to outside linebacker has forced Smith to read opposing offenses a little better and a little faster.

He said coverages have changed his whole game plan.

"I think switching from defensive end to linebacker, my eyes are conditioned to read better," Smith said. "I have to read the opponent and think a little better. As a defensive end you could just go get the quarterback or go get the running back."

He has gotten better, Smith said, largely because he's had to. The level of competition he faces day in and day out in practice and week in and week out on the game field have made him take large steps in his workouts and in his execution.

"I've gotten a lot better," Smith said. "I'm learning a lot more stuff. You're always going against real strong competition every week here, where in high school you had those weeks where the competition was not as great as it was the week before.

"There's competition every day on the practice field and there's competition every time on the game field."

It's been a long time since Missouri competed for the conference title. The Tigers were 4-7 last year, and are a combined 11-22 in Smith's three years in Columbia. But Smith said winning the Big 12 is still the goal for him and his teammates.

"As always, we want to win our conference," Smith said. "Winning the Big 12 is our first goal. That and making it to a bowl game. Of course, if we win the Big 12, then we'll be in a national championship bowl game. But we're really focused on making it to a bowl and getting out of the little slump we've been in."

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