Mississippi State senior defensive end Preston Smith fielded questions from the media on Monday in advance of the Bulldogs appearance in the Orange Bowl. The following is a transcript of what Smith had to say…
Q. I wanted to talk to you about your coach (Dan Mullen). He just seems a little bit different in terms of he seems like he’s a guy who likes to have a little bit of fun along with all the work. Do you see that in him, a little bit of a different personality than maybe a Nick Saban where he’s scowling all the time.
PRESTON SMITH: He wants us to have a comfortable feel going into a lot of games, be confident in what we do, believe in the game plan, work hard and execute our assignment. You know what type of talent we have on this team and he noses what we’re capable of. Once we get comfortable and we know our assignment and what to do and how to do it, then we’ll have a lot of success on the field.
Q. Is that something going back to recruiting where you said it’s not going to be all business all the time but I think I can enjoy playing for him?
PRESTON SMITH: Yeah, I always felt like it would be a fun, family feel during the recruiting process a long time ago, but I felt like it would be a fun place to be, a nice family feel, a comfortable feel, won’t always be uptight and stressful all the time, and I thought it would be more fun because you’re at a place where it’s going to be fun, you can enjoy it along with the business side.
Q. Do you remember the recruiting process? Did he come to your house?
PRESTON SMITH: Yeah, he came to my house on a house visit. He was relaxed. He was just trying to tell me finish up strong with school, signing day was coming up, how the process would go. It was kind of like we talked about things, like football, my expectations coming in in the summer, and it was pretty fun, and it was pretty relaxed. I didn’t feel like he was telling me how life would be or how it was going to be.
Q. You got that from some of the other coaches that came to you?
PRESTON SMITH: Well, Coach (Chris) Wilson was the coach who recruited me. In high school I was trying to get my grades right and qualify, so he was kind of like, after the official visit, it was kind of getting everything into play, lining up everything for me to enroll on campus in the summertime.
Q. Can you think of an example when maybe he did something to let the steam out for the team where it was work, work, work, and now it’s time for a little break, let’s do this?
PRESTON SMITH: Like for — during camp I remember one time during camp, the fall camp during two-a-days, we were out there practicing, and some days each year he might find that one day that we go to the movies or we go bowling. We think we’re going to go to practice, we’re out there to practice, we show up to the practice field and we don’t see our pads out there on the field. We see some slippers, a hoodie, something to go to the movies in and get comfortable in, so it’s kind of like that’s when everybody was tired and kind of frustrated from practicing so much and the restless nights, then we wake up, come out to the practice field, watch film, go out there, kind of dragging around, then you see a tent with some new gear under it, and we’re about to go to the movies.
Q. With the stuff that was under the tent?
PRESTON SMITH: Yes, kind of release, kind of like a load off your back, one of those days to take off and just relax.
Q. What did that do for the guys? Was the next practice energized again?
PRESTON SMITH: Yeah, it was kind of like resting our bodies and the next practice there was a lot of energy. Everybody was kind of excited getting a day off and resting our bodies, not banging up each other, kind of going out there and just flying around the next day, really.