End Garrison Smith (56) and Linebacker Jordan Jenkins (59) make a tackle
Nov. 14, 2012
ATHENS -- When Abry Jones injured his left ankle earlier this season Garrison Smith's first thought wasn't that he would benefit from Jones' misfortune. The sophomore from Atlanta immediately felt sympathy for his fallen comrade.
However in the weeks that have followed, Smith has proven a valuable asset to the Bulldogs in the absence of Jones.
"I hated it had to happen at the expense of my big brother Abry. He taught me a lot of the things I know, it hurts me that he's not playing with me," Smith said. "But he's happy for me, he texts me every game and tells me to have a good game, go out there and play for him. I'm just happy to contribute to the team."
Smith has made an impression when he has made it onto the field this year. He currently ranks eighth on the team with 37 tackles and has also recorded a sack.
His performances are a result of hard work he put in in the offseason, according to Smith.
"I worked real hard in the offseason. I had big expectations coming in and then I found myself playing as a role player to the seniors," Smith said. "I just sat back and played my role. I'm not one to say much so I just kept working and doing my job, doing whatever I can whenever I get in the game. Since Abry went down I had to step up, help my team and step up for Abry and just do the best I can not to let the team down."
The defense made headlines for all the wrong reasons earlier in the season as it struggled to reincorporate some important players after they missed playing time. Against Florida, however, the defense produced a game winning performance and has given up only 19 points in the last three games.
Smith said there is many reason behind the recent improvements, including Shawn Williams' public criticism.
"I think guys have just taken responsibility and stopped making excuses. I think that comment from Shawn Williams kind of ignited everybody," Smith said. "No grown man wants to be called soft, I know I'm not soft so that just challenges somebodies manhood. That comment right there just got everybody on his toes and said just man up, it's time to play football."
Playing in one of the most physically demanding positions on the field has helped Smith and his teammates on the defensive line build close bonds. One's that are important as the team prepares for the holiday season.
"Me and Abry are real close, I met him when I was in high school and we've been close ever since. The whole d-line is like a brotherhood," Smith said. "Big Kwame (Geathers) is like my brother, he comes home with me for Thanksgiving. He can't go all the way back to South Carolina it's too far because we only get a couple of hours off. I'm from Atlanta so it's only an hour and 15 minutes away, so he's able to come home and eat with me. Just close relationships like that, that's what makes us closer and that's why we are like a brotherhood."
Having Geathers enjoy fried turkey and all the trimmings with his family is something that clearly means a lot to Smith. Prior to them sitting down with his family, however, the Bulldogs play against Georgia Southern at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be televised by WSB (Channel 2) in Atlanta.