Smith is ready to hit some opposing running backs

by Bruce Wallace

Senior Tanner Smith isn’t really talkative when it comes to playing defense.
The Eagles middle linebacker and running back simply knows that he can let his pads do the talking on defense.

Eagles linebacker Tanner Smith

Eagles linebacker Tanner Smith

Playing offense is a little bit of a different story. Smith, who’s not that talkative to begin with, gets more animated as he talks about breaking through holes when carrying the ball.
“I have a lot of confidence in my offensive line,” Smith said, “they have worked really hard this summer and they give us a big push up front.”
Smith says he thinks the Eagles will run the ball well this year — with Smith, Jackson Sartain and Colby Phillips carrying the ball — but says fans should not underestimate the SoBoCo passing game.
“I like our offense when we are running the ball, but we have some good receivers and can get the ball to them.”
Smith said he puts playing middle linebacker ahead of carrying the ball.
“We have a number of good running backs, so I feel I can make a bigger impact playing defense,” Smith said.
A key for the Eagles linebackers is to make reads on their opponent’s offense – before the play and as it unfolds.
“You try to read the way the line sets up or how they have their hands ready,” Smith said, “anything to help you know where the play is going. The key, that most fans don’t realize for a linebacker, is the reaction time to the play.”
But sometimes what looks like good reaction time is something else altogether.
“Sometimes we just guess,” Smith says with a grin. “Against Osage last year they ran a counter play and I just guessed, jumped into the play, stripped the ball from the running back and recovered the fumble. But….if you don’t guess correctly – the play just goes right by you.”
On both offense and defense, Tanner Smith looks to be a big, impact player this season – and he knows it.
“I expect to have a big season,” Smith says, “I’m a senior and I know the team needs more out of me.”

• Injury update – Senior Colin Vaughan was told earlier this week that he had an ACL tear and will likely miss the entire season. Vaughan injured the knee during Saturday’s scrimmage.