"It will be tough, but I think he can do it," says Thompson. "Noseguard is not really a difficult position to learn as far as the assignments go."
Head coach Tommy Tuberville agrees that the newcomer has a chance to play this year despite getting a late start, arriving after the completion of two-a-days because he had to finish eight additional juco hours to be eligible to transfer to Auburn. "I am expecting him to help us this year," the coach says. "He obviously needs to get in better shape, but he has the potential to come in and help."
Greg Smith hit the Auburn practice field for the first time on Thursday.
Smith, who was placed at Northeast Mississippi Junior College two years ago by Auburn after an outstanding career at Tyner High in Chattanooga, has set a goal to see action on opening night. "I will play against Washington State," he vows.
Auburn's defensive line coach Don Dunn isn't as optimistic that will happen, but has hopes for the newcomer. "He has a long way to go," Dunn says. "He just got here. His head is swimming. He has class and a lot of things on his mind. He is not in great shape, but we probably knew that. It is hard to tell, but he did some good things early--getoffs and that type of thing. You can tell he is athletic and explosive and big. Time will tell. We have to get him in shape ready to play."
Is getting the juco transfer ready to contribute vs. Washington State on Sept. 2nd overly ambitious? "I don't know," Dunn says. "I will be able to tell more when he is in pads." Because he is just starting practice, the noseguard will have to wait until Sunday's practice to compete in full pads.
"I doubt he will be able to play very much if he does get ready for that first game," Dunn adds. "Hopefully, we can play him a couple of plays here and there--short yardage and first down run-type situations. We just have to see how it he picks it up mentally and see if we can get him ready to survive four or five plays or 10 at the most. I don't know about Washington State. That will be tough."
Smith says he ran a total of a mile on a daily basis this summer to try to stay in shape, but admits he has work to do that area. He says his goal will be to get to 325 pounds. Dunn says he would like to see the barrel-chested lineman at 330 pounds, but notes that he doesn't want to see the junior try to lose too much weight too quickly. "We don't want him to not eat and start cramping in practice," Dunn says. "He is in a tough spot. It is a whole new world for him."
Smith says he is ready to face the challenge of the transition to major college football and says "it won't take long" to get to his goal weight. He also notes that his new teammates have been supportive. "They have been working with me and helping me learn the defense and stuff," Smith says. "The guys really want me to be on this team and I appreciate that."