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'A once-in-a-lifetime experience' for Braden Smith at SEC Media Days
Braden Smith answered affirmatively and enthusiastically when Auburn coach Gus Malzahn offered an opportunity to represent the Tigers at SEC Media Days.
July 13, 2017

By Jeff Shearer

HOOVER, Ala. - Known more for his crunching blocks than his compelling quotes, Braden Smith's play merited an invitation from Gus Malzahn to represent Auburn's offense at SEC Media Days.

"I'm not the most talkative guy," Smith said. "Coach called me, just making sure I wanted to do it. I just wanted to say, `Yes,' as quickly as I could. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Displaying a side of his personality usually reserved for family and close friends, the senior offensive lineman breezed through 10 interview sessions Thursday.

Before Smith answered his first question, he learned he had been named to the Outland Trophy preseason watch list for the second straight year.

With 27 consecutive start at guard and 39 games played, Smith switched positions in the spring, practicing at right tackle.

"Just being able to help my team," he said. "There was a need at right tackle. They called upon me to try to fill the role, so I'm going to do everything in my power to perform and excel. Whatever I need to do to help my team get an edge."

Auburn enters preseason camp with offensive line coach Herb Hand overseeing a competition to see who will replace graduates Alex Kozan and Robert Leff in the starting five.

"They've got to earn it," Smith said. "They've got to show it in practice every day. Don't have any bad days. Be consistent. Be someone [the coaches] can trust."

Smith agrees with Auburn coach Gus Malzahn's assessment that the Tigers are positioned to contend in the SEC West.



"We have all of the pieces," Smith said. "We just have to put it all together and build each week. First thing on our mind is week one against Georgia Southern. Make that as our starting point and go from there."

After the Tigers kick off the season at Jordan-Hare Stadium Sept. 2 against Georgia Southern, they travel to Clemson for a prime time showdown on ESPN on Sept. 9.

"It's a good measuring stick going against them, coming off winning a national title," Smith said. "If we can go in there and compete, pull out a victory, that would be a great propeller for our program going forward."

Smith is also circling on the schedule Auburn's Sept. 23 game at Missouri, the closest SEC campus to his hometown, Olathe, Kan.

"That's definitely going to be exciting because I remember my freshman year, we went to K-State, and that was the only game I never played in," Smith said. "So none of my friends and family got to see me play in the Auburn jersey close to home. Being able to go to Missouri and play in front of a home crowd will be a really cool experience."

Taking a 10-minute break before his final interview sessions, Auburn's 6-foot-6, 303-pound Smith reflected on his time in the spotlight.

"I definitely had a lot of fun being able to represent our team," Smith said. "I thought the most questions I would get would be about the quarterback, but it's been fairly balanced. I've gotten some random questions like my favorite Thanksgiving food. That's popped up twice, so that's kind of been surprising."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:

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