January 15, 2009

Lending a Hand

Georgia commitment Branden Smith has a new workout partner once summer rolls around - former Bulldog and current Denver Broncos superstar Champ Bailey.

During an exclusive interview with UGASports, the 5-star cornerback from Washington High said Bailey recently offered the opportunity to train with him before heading to preseason camp.

It took Smith about a second to say yes.

"He said he wanted to work out with me this summer and I can't wait," Smith said. "It's just a great chance for me to workout with someone who's the best in the game, to learn everything that he knows."

Bailey, you'll remember, made a recruiting pitch of his own with a phone call to Smith several weeks ago before he committed to the Bulldogs during the Under Armour All-American Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

Ironic, because some have compared the 5-foot-11, 171-pound Smith to Bailey, who enjoyed a All-American career with the Bulldogs before moving onto the NFL.

"I'd like to be better than him," Smith said. "Being compared to somebody can be a good or bad thing. Really, it's something you really don't want or care for. But at the same time, while at Georgia, there's not a better player I could be compared to that Champ Bailey. He's a great football player. I want to get to the level that he is now."

Smith is also happy to be getting a chance to play with former high school teammate Reshad Jones.

Jones, who went back and forth before deciding to return to Georgia for his junior year, actually phoned Smith Thursday afternoon to catch his friend up to date.

"I'm happy he stayed. I know I'll be following him around, taking in everything I can, learning everything from him about the playbook, everything," Smith said. "When we were here (at Washington High), people called us brothers, just because of how we played the game, we both had speed and always tried to do the right thing."

Smith said he would not have begrudged his friend if he had decided to turn pro. He also said that would not have affected his commitment to the Bulldogs.

The chance to compete for the starting short corner position now open after Asher Allen's decision to enter the NFL Draft is also on his mind.

"I've always been the kind of person to just approach things as they come and to always give my best effort," Smith said. "I just have to go out, work as hard as I can, learn the playbook and see what happens."

Smith confirmed his commitment to the Bulldogs is as strong as it can possibly be, and that he believes he handled the entire recruiting process as good as he could.

"I enjoyed it, too. It was long and everything, but I set up my dates and took all my visits. I think I did everything the right way and never did get stressed out," Smith said. "Most guys don't even get to finish their official visits before Signing Day. But I took my time, met a lot of good people and enjoyed every one."

However, Smith can understand why some recruits get put off by the whole ordeal.

"I know a bunch of players who have trouble with the process and are tired of everything," Smith said. "I was the other way. I had fun with it. It was a good experience."

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