Smith, who played in ten games as a fifth-years senior with nine starts at right guard, must choose whether or not to take advantage of the bonus season. He was not available for Friday comment, but last addressed the subject the day prior to Mississippi State’s New Years Day appearance in the Gator Bowl.
“Yeah, I’m still kind of thinking about it,” said Smith on the 31st of December, after the appeal would have been received. “We’ll still have to see, I’m taking one day at a time.”
Coach Dan Mullen and the offensive staff don’t have many more days to await Smith’s decision. They need to know prior to spring practices beginning in March at the very least, and preferably longer before, so the offensive line plans can be set. At the same time a seasoned interior lineman of Smith’s caliber would be a welcomed re-addition to the roster.
Smith has left his situation uncertain for good reasons though. He has suffered three major injuries in his college career. One ankle was wrecked in his very first State scrimmage back in August 2008 as a true freshman. The other ankle need an operation as well after a 2009 injury. And in 2011 a knee ligament tear in the third game cost the rest of that season. All told he missed 23 out of 51 games from 2009-12 not counting the first redshirt season.
Besides the obvious desire to not risk further damage, having a degree in hand presents Smith opportunity to join the workforce now. And he would like to be coaching his own team someday. Smith likely tipped his hand in that December 31st talk. Discussing the new Seal Complex, which he was first to refer publically to the expansive weightroom as ‘Balis Mall’, Smith said “And I wish I had another opportunity to play” before catching himself. “And I just might, so we’ll see what happens.”
Mississippi State has just had one senior complete a sixth season. Tight end Marcus Green earned a medical sixth year of his own for 2012.
If Smith does remain on the roster for 2013 he and senior punter Baker Swedenburg would be the last active Bulldogs signed prior to Mullen’s arrival at Mississippi State in December 2008.