"Looking at the older guys — Nelson, Buck Allen, Leonard (Williams) — all these great guys going to the NFL, these dudes don’t shy away from being a leader," he said. "They’re spokesmen. They have a voice for the team.
"I love to see that the older guys and younger guys look up to me as the next guy stepping up in line and I don’t shy away from it. I embrace it and I just got to do what’s best for me and my teammates."
After speculation of whether he’d play safety or wide receiver or both, Smith stormed onto the scene as a wide receiver as soon as he stepped on campus last summer. He did so well offensively that the coaching staff didn’t want to risk even giving him a chance to play defense.
He carried his stellar practice play into Saturdays and finished the season with 54 catches for 724 yards and two touchdowns while being named a Freshman All-American.
As the 2015 season approaches, the approach of the coaching staff remains the same. Even with the team being thin at safety, Smith, who according to the USC Spring Media Guide, will enter the season as a Biletnikoff Award candidate, has solidified himself as such a valuable receiver that he likely won’t play in the secondary.
"He’s just so good offensively and then with the departure of Nelson and George (Farmer) he’s really âeven though he’s only in his second year âour most veteran guy with experience and playmaking ability and we just can’t afford to not have him as well offensively," Sarkisian said when asked if Smith would get defensive reps this spring.
And so it is. Anointed or not, Smith is ready for an enhanced role, to go along with a new haircut that is sure to be just as spectacular.
"I was thinking about going red on top and (blend) to that gold (on the back and the sides) and then that (blends) to my black hair (at the bottom)," he said. "I tried to talk to Steven (Mitchell) and the other receivers. They were like ‘No. You’re doing too much.’ I’m like ‘Dude you just got to live life to the fullest.’ I’m just having fun.
"I’m telling you, I’m going to do something crazy, man."
Trojan fans can now be on the lookout for that in addition to touchdown catches.