By Noah Allison–
Over his first three years playing wide receiver here at U of L, senior Andrell Smith racked in a total of 36 catches for four touchdowns. Through the first eleven games of his senior year, Smith has caught 27 passes and three touchdowns. Smith is one of the few seniors to be on the team this year and like many of his fellow seniors, he has saved his best work for his final year.
“I just knew that this was my last season, so I had to give it all I got. There are no second chances, no season to come back to, this was all I had,” Smith said. “This season has been the most fun; I’ve enjoyed every moment, every practice and every game. I’m just having fun because I know it’s my last time.”
“I always talk about the seniors need to play their best football, and Andrell Smith is playing his best football,” head coach Charlie Strong said.
Smith is one of four receivers to have at least 20 catches and one touchdown this year. In a receiver core where anybody can step up and be the “guy,” Smith contributes simply by bringing a senior presence to the team.
“We all work together as an equal,” Smith said. “But I try to lead and not let anybody get down on themselves.”
Smith has been here since before Coach Strong even, and he has been an important factor in Strong’s being able to bring the team along and reach this season of great success.
“You take guys, and you watch them just develop and grow up and I think that is what has happened with him. He’s grown up, now he’s a senior. And I told our seniors, ‘It’s not a large group of seniors, but I would love for you guys to leave your mark on the program’, and that’s what he is doing,” Strong said.
Smith has come up huge in long third down conversions this season, being there for U of L’s daunting sophomore leader, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
“It’s been amazing (playing with Bridgewater). I have never seen somebody come in so young and be so smart and just know so much about football. He really has a high football I.Q.,” Smith said.
Smith, from Miami, has been playing wide receiver since he got to high school, before that he played all over the defense.
“I’ve been playing since I was nine; actually, I didn’t even know I was going to football practice the first time I went. My dad just took me out there after school one day,” Smith said.
Smith keeps a low profile. He’s not an attention seeker or troublemaker; he goes about his business. And his business is football.
“He’s very quiet, very soft spoken and doesn’t say anything, but he just works. The thing you like about him is that you look at his body — he’s big, he’s physical and it’s hard to tackle him,” Strong said. “I remember one day at practice we were doing a tackling drill, and I can’t remember who it was, but one of the DB’s were chirping to another smaller receiver and I said, ‘Okay now, if you keep talking, I’m going to put Andrell in,’ and he didn’t want no piece of that. You just really like his work ethic, he just goes about his business and knows exactly what he wants.”
U of L, while 9-1, is coming off of their first loss of the season. But a season doesn’t end with one loss, and the Big East is still in contention. U of L still has games to play, and those games will be Smith’s last as a Cardinal.
“I just want to see us finish out strong,” Smith said. “A lot of people are doubting us because of one game, and I want to prove them wrong.”
Photo: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal