CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois defensive back Eddie Smith has been on top of the college football world. After winning a national championship with Alabama, he’s trying to take what he learned there to his new school.
“If you want to get there, you have to do everything the right way,” says Smith. “I think that’s the biggest thing I could really do to help.”
The former four star recruit joined a defensive back group looking for leaders to grab ahold of the starting spots. After minimal playing time in three seasons with the Crimson Tide, he saw a chance to reach the line-up with the Illini.
“I felt like anywhere I went, I could play if I worked hard,” says Smith. “I saw an opportunity when I came here.”
It helps that Smith has past connections with the Illini coaching staff. Both Bret Bielema and Ryan Walters recruited the Louisiana native while they coached in the SEC.
“Eddie’s a veteran guy, he’s an older guy,” says Walters. “His attention to detail in meetings and ability to execute from the meeting to the practice field has been impressive.”
The differences between his old school and new school are stark — but Smith looks back on his experiences and knows he can bring a unique perspective. And help the Illini win games.
“Everybody has to be together,” says Smith. “We all have to have the same plans and scout team has to go have the same attitude as the starters. That’s how you win games.”
And that’s something he’s seen firsthand, as the only player on the team with a championship ring.