Aug. 4, 2013
Safety Ryan Smith earned a degree in public administration
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. – At the beginning and at the end, Saturday was much like any other preseason camp day for defensive end Craig Sanders and safety Ryan Smith.
Sanders and Smith were on the field for walkthroughs Saturday morning. They were on the field for practice Saturday afternoon. But for them and for their families, what happened in between was extremely special.
At Auburn Arena, Sanders and Smith walked across the stage, got their degrees and officially became graduates of Auburn University. Sanders, from Ariton, got a degree in human development and family studies. Smith, from Cordova, got a degree in public administration.
Their proud families were there to celebrate.
Smith’s mother, Diann Simon, was there, along with his son, his girlfriend and his sister. Sanders was joined by his father Tony Sanders and mother Dianne Grice and his stepmother Donna Sanders and stepfather David Grice.
Smith’s mother shed tears of joy as his name was called.
“It was a day I’ve been waiting for and working for,” Smith said. “Being the first one in my family to graduate is a big deal.”
For Sanders it was like a family reunion. He spent his summer doing an internship that completed requirements for his degree.
“This is the first time I’ve seen my family in about eight weeks,” Sanders said. “My mom and dad and stepdad and stepmom all enjoyed it. We had a great time. I’m proud to be a graduate of Auburn University and finally be an alumnus.”
By Saturday afternoon, Sanders and Smith were concentrating football again and preparations for a season they work toward with great anticipation.
“I’ve been telling everybody that asks about the season that this is the best offseason we’ve had as a team - unity, everybody coming together,” Sanders said. “It’s going to be a great year. Even during camp, people have been coming in and doing extra. It just wasn’t like that last year.”
Smith echoed those sentiments.
“I see a lot of people working hard,” Smith said. “When we get comfortable with the scheme, we are going to do some big things. I think we are already ahead of the spring. It’s just a matter of polishing things and getting ready to play Washington State.”
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: