Southern Miss has had a string of great linebackers over the years, and they are continuing to find athletes to build upon in the future through recruiting. Again, Southern Miss has raided Georgia by bringing in 6’1, 230lb. Smith, the leading tackler for LaGrange last season.
Head Coach Steve Pardue took time out to talk with us about the newest Eagle, and how he will fit in to the program.
“He is a physical player who really runs well,” Coach Pardue said of his star defender. “We pride ourselves in our linebacker play, and he is another good one.”
Smith has the highest honor on his team’s defense by wearing the jersey worn by great linebackers of the past. “He wears #2 at our school, and that is a big deal,” Pardue said. “Since 2001, we have had several great linebackers that have gone on to play Division One football, and we put it on Chauncy. That shows you what we think about him.”
Smith earned that honor by his tenacious play on the field.
"He plays our Sam linebacker for us, so he is really the quarterback of our defense,” he said. “By design he should be our leading tackler and he is. We put a lot on him mentally also; he has to be able to make all of our checks and calls. He has to do that as well without letting that slow him down.”
“He played the Will as a 10th grader, a Sam last year,” Coach added. “His Junior year went on he just kept getting better and better. He is a really good athlete, he has great hands. He also has grown up a baseball player. Really, he is a highly skilled athlete who plays linebacker.”
Coach Pardue is confident Smith could play offense should they choose to use him there as well.
“He’d be our best fullback if we chose to play him both ways,” he said. “He could do that because he has great hands. Hopefully we won’t have to do that this year, but he’d be a good one if we did.”
Pardue raved about his on the field play, but also spoke highly of his character as well.
“He’s a good kid,” he informed us. “We considered him a starter as a 10th grader, and being our Sam linebacker two years in a row he’s a guy we really trust. He is a student of the game as well, and he’s done a great job with that.”
How does Coach Pardue feel Smith will fit in at Southern Miss?
“I would think he would be a guy that could play early because he is so physical and has great size,” he said.
“He is probably a little bit bigger than he needs to be right now, he is 230, and he’ll probably play between 220-235. In college, he’ll be between 240-250 and can really run as well.”
Coach Pardue said he chose USM over several other schools in hot pursuit of him. “There were a lot of schools interested in him,” he said. “UAB, Memphis, Middle Tennessee, and Western Kentucky were all after him.”
It came down to a trip to campus that sold Smith on being a Golden Eagle. “He came down last weekend on a visit with his Mom, and came back and said he fell in love with the place,” Coach told us.
“He loved the coaches, and he was sure that was where he wanted to be. It was the visit that just put Southern Miss over the top for him, and that was it.”