January 29, 2009

Smith isn't afraid to work

As players file out onto Howard Jones Field for 6 a.m. workouts, it's not too hard to tell just how tired they are before they even begin to break a sweat.

Some let out massive yawns. Others fight to keep their eyes open.

But tackle Tyron Smith isn't one of them. He knows exactly what it takes to get out of bed and begin working before the sun even threatens to come out.

"I'm more used to it," Smith said. "When I was home, I used to work a lot. I'd wake up early in the morning and go work. It's not so bad."

Smith would wake up, sometimes as early as 2 a.m. and drive with his family from Moreno Valley to the Sacramento area - nearly seven hours away - to work for his family's custodial business.

Smith knows all about work, putting in extra time with offensive line coach Pat Ruel after practices throughout the season, working on footwork and technique.

A knee injury slowed Smith early in the season, but by October, Ruel said it was getting harder to keep Smith off the field.

"He's getting close to getting some playing time," Ruel said at the time. "And I do have to play him because he's starting to do (stuff) right… Tyron missed a lot of reps in two-a-days, the equivalent of about 20 practices.

"He was behind, but he's made a lot of strides the last week or two. He's got a lot of natural ability."

Smith played in 10 games as a freshman, pushing left tackle Charles Brown for meaningful playing time.

"It went by fast. It was a great experience," Smith said. "I came in a little nervous, but I think I did a good job getting through it."

And with winter workouts under way, Smith is applying the same work ethic that got him on the field as a true freshman to help him get even more polished.

"I just want to get better. I want to get in better condition," Smith said. "I want to compete with the guys who have been here. So, I'm trying to learn the plays better.

"Everybody's out there. It's made me push myself even harder. All I'm doing is trying to get better and catch up to those guys."

And just like he did early in the morning back in high school and after practices during his freshman season, Smith isn't afraid to do a little extra to get the job done.

"I've scheduled some time with Coach Ruel to watch some film," he said. "Guys don't really go in at all. I just thought I needed to make the time in between my classes to go over there and watch film."

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