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Smith gets his kicks as a Blue Raider

Senior is on Ray Guy Watch List

October 19, 2006 · MT Media Relations
To say Colby Smith has been getting a kick out of his college experience would be a vast understatement because his career has been one kick after another, after another, after another - literally.

Smith, a senior from Franklin, Tenn., is a one-man kicking game for the Blue Raiders and one of the few in the nation who handles virtually every aspect of his squad's special teams.

Given there are only a few players in America who have such a heavy responsibility placed upon them it would reason a player has to have special qualities to be successful in all areas and Smith has certainly proven he is an exceptional specialist when it comes to taking on and handling accountability.

"You would certainly prefer to have a kicker to handle the kickoffs and placekicking and then your punter would be a different person but we just do not have that luxury," Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said. "We had to begin the year with Colby handling all three phases of the kicking game, but recently Matt King has stepped in and done a solid job with the kickoffs. This is nice because it saves Colby's leg as we enter the second half of the season."

He's one of the best at his trade in all of college football and his numbers stack up with some of the top specialists in Middle Tennessee history. Consider this: Smith has been named All-Sun Belt Conference as a punter - AND - placekicker during his splendid career. He has twice been named to the Ray Guy Watch List, including this season, which is presented annually to the nation's top punter.

Need more? Smith also has twice been named to the Lou Groza Award List, presented annually to the nation's top kicker. Smith was selected as one of the 20 semifinalists for the award in 2004.

"When I first came to Middle Tennessee I never envisioned all of this," said Smith, an original walk-on whose work ethic and productivity earned him a scholarship. "I took the mindset that I had to do whatever I could to help us win. The accolades are the result of hard work and teammates helping me out."

Smith certainly has done his part to help his team and his teammates. Earlier this season his 79-yard punt against Florida International proved to be the game-changing play as the Blue Raiders went on to win 7-6 as they claimed a season-opening triumph for the first time since 2001. Punting out of the back of his end zone, Smith, who can draw rain with some of his punts, bailed his team out of jam when he unloaded on the pigskin to change the course of the game.

"There's no doubt his punt against Florida International turned the field for us," Stockstill said. "It was late in the game, we were back up and it had become a field position game. He came through with a huge punt and it created momentum and enthusiasm for our defense. He was very instrumental."

It wouldn't be the first time Middle Tennessee fans had been treated to such heroic measures by a specialist. Smith also was influential in the Blue Raiders' 17-15 win at Vanderbilt in 2005 when he punted eight times for a 44.4-yard average and placed four inside the 20, including perfectly placing one offering inside the 1-yard-line with 2:40 remaining. Oh, for good measure, Smith also nailed what proved to be the game-winning field goal with 6:41 remaining.

The multi-talented Smith has known success since stepping onto the game field in 2003. He led the Sun Belt Conference in field goals made, field goal percentage, and scoring by a kicker in 2004. He finished the season ranked second overall in the league in scoring.

He is proficient in all of his kicking duties; however, if forced to pick just one aspect of the game and go with it, what would it be?

"I've done punting most of my life and that's probably the job I enjoy most," Smith said. "Don't get me wrong, though, scoring points is fun, too. Kickoffs are just something you do as far as I'm concerned. I don't think there is a lot of fun in that but there is something to be said about doing all three."

Blue Raider football fans are glad, as well. More times than not, Smith has made sure fans get a kick out of watching him perform on a weekly basis because he has rarely disappointed during what has been a solid college career.

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