Smith receives honor in a snap

Hudson Smith, an All-Aiken Standard selection when he played football at Aiken High School, was recently singled out for more recognition because of his fine play on the gridiron. Now a veteran on the Gardner-Webb University football team, Smith was named to The Sports Network’s Preseason FCS All-America Team Monday, earning a slot as the second-team long snapper.

“It’s great. I didn’t even know about it until my dad (Aiken attorney Gary Smith) texted me about it,” Smith said Tuesday of being motivated because he was tabbed for the second team, while Liberty’s Richard Wright was named to the first team. “It makes me mad that the Liberty long snapper, our rival, was on the first team. Now I have to go out and work even harder try and finish the season on the first team. But it’s a great honor.”

The 6-foot-1, 250-pound Smith is a two-time All-Big South Conference selection as a long snapper. He was also a preseason All-American at the position in 2011, when he was recognized by the College Sporting News.

Smith said he got off to a “shaky” start that season, which was a reason he wasn’t selected to the season-ending All-America squad. He’s using that as motivation to not only live up to lofty expectations this season, but exceed them.

“I want to finish the season the way I start,” Smith said of bookending his final year with the Runnin’ Bulldogs with All-American honors. “It’s nice to get something, but I’m going to work harder and push myself to see what happens.”

The redshirt senior is accustomed to hard work. Smith has already graduated with a degree in business administration and is currently working toward a masters in the same field in the Godbold School of Business at Gardner-Webb. He’s also currently serving as president of Gardner-Webb’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as he prepares for a post-football life.

But Smith is in no hurry to hang up his cleats. He’s looking forward to playing a final season for the Runnin’ Bulldogs. While he’s been singled out nationally for his work as a long snapper, Smith’s full-time role is playing tight end. Known primarily for his blocking, Smith caught three passes for 37 yards and a touchdown last season. He’s been a jack-of-all trades at Gardner-Webb, logging time at both defensive end and running back in addition to his special teams duties.

Last season he had three special teams tackles (two solo) and helped punter Bo Lindsey rank in the top-20 nationally in yards per attempt. Lindsey was named to the 2012 All-Big South squad as a result. This season, Smith said he and his teammates have the belief that they can run the table and win every game they play.

“I think we can do it,” said Smith, who is working out at the college while waiting for the first day of practice on Aug. 5. His Runnin’ Bulldogs will face their first real test when they play host to Furman on Aug. 31. “We want to win the conference and make the playoffs. Of course the ultimate goal is a national championship, but I’m ready to get the ball rolling.”

Smith said his goal beyond this season is to continue to play football. That would mean doing it as a professional, and his best chances of playing on the next level would be as a long snapper.

Although playing at a smaller school reduces the number of pro scouts keeping and eye on him, Smith is confident if he performs to a high level he’ll be noticed. He said having coaches who played at a major program like Clemson helps, and their in the early stages of trying to put together a pro day for the Aiken native.

“I want to see if I can pursue something further,” Smith said. “Whatever comes about, I’m going to run with it.”

Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 14 years after graduating from Syracuse University.

Hudson Smith

Position: Tight End/Long Snapper

Ht: 6-foot-1

Wt: 250 pounds

Year: Redshirt Senior

High School: Aiken

Receptions: 3 Yards: 37 TDs: 1

Carries: 11 Yards: 35

Tackles: 31