Gridiron gods finally smiling upon Smith

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

As a football player, Brandon Smith has experienced major disappointment before.

The Calgary Stampeders halfback had just completed his sophomore season at St. Mary's college in Moraga, Calif., when the school cancelled the football program.

Smith was one of the lucky ones. He was able to transfer to Sacramento State for his junior and senior seasons, but it was hard to say good-bye.

"It was tough because you have good friends and they broke us up," said Smith.

"I had to go elsewhere and re-earn my spot. I started the second half of the year as a freshman and then as a sophomore started all the games. To start all over, it was rough."

Having a tough go in college made Smith stronger for the pros. He brought a workmanlike attitude to training camp and earned himself a roster spot despite not even playing in the final pre-season game in B.C.

After the 23-year-old finished with Sac State, which happens to be the alma mater of both Edmonton's Ricky Ray and Winnipeg's Charles Roberts, he went to mini-camp with the Detroit Lions.

"Things didn't work out there because they said they needed taller defensive backs," said Smith, who is 5-ft.-10.

"I went down to the Arena League. I spent the entire season with the San Jose SaberCats and we won the Arena Bowl last year."

Coming from the tiny space of arena ball to the largest pro football field in North America was an adjustment, but Smith made up for it with speed.

Smith has gelled with his teammates, mostly because he doesn't say much and fits the perfect rookie role. But he could be the starting halfback on the short side with Julian Battle out with a heel injury.

"The guys on the team gave me a lot of help," Smith said.

"They talked to me and told me ways to tighten up my coverage. The offensive guys are some of the best in the league, so playing them every day will do nothing but make you better."


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