Redshirt sophomore Rashard Smith started the summer battling for a position on the two-deep at cornerback. Then his classmate, Jarvis Byrd, tore his ACL shortly before preseason camp, opening up a battle for the starting job.
Redshirt junior C.J. Wilson though won the position in camp, and next thing Smith knew he was playing receiver. He caught a six-yard pass against Liberty in the season opener Sept. 3. A week later, Smith was playing both ways.
That continued for four straight games, although Smith did not record a catch or defensive stat in that span.
Then against Central Michigan, a struggling Wilson was benched, and Smith saw 41 snaps, all at corner. Smith had played 40 snaps in the previous five games combined on offense and defense. He made five tackles, and in the next contest at Virginia, Smith was starting.
Smith responded with four tackles and a pass breakup at UVA. He had five hits, including one for a loss, at Florida State. All of his tackles in the past two contests have been solo efforts.
"It's been a wild year," Smith admitted. "We come out here every day and work, and I have played almost every position on the field. I just do what the coach asks me to do. If he tells me to go play offensive line, I'd say, 'Coach I don't know, but I'll go in there and do it.' I put my heart out there for the team."
Smith claims the time split between offense and defense has not been a challenge. He noted he played quarterback extensively at Dublin (Ga.) High. He did notice though a change of attitude at receiver in one area.
"When I was playing quarterback, I didn't want to get hit at all," Smith said. "Being a receiver, I could get up and talk some trash. I rather be the one delivering the hit though."
He is also appreciative of the trust that the coaches have put in him by playing him on both sides of the ball. Now Smith is looking forward to playing in his first UNC-NC State game.
Smith did not get a chance to play in 2009 when he was a true freshman because he had hurt his knee, which forced him to miss last season and in the process redshirt.
"It's a big week," Smith stated. "It's a rivalry, North Carolina-NC State, it's one of a kind. I'll be ready to go.
"I'll be more pumped up than nervous. We got to treat every football game the same no matter who the opponent. We got to come out here and do what we do best."