Aiming high: Smith relishing opportunity to compete for starting job

Published 7:17 pm Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Last season, Troy quarterback Sawyer Smith had to watch his team play from the sideline. A year later, he is vying for the top quarterback spot in the new-look Trojan offense.

After playing in six games as a freshman behind starter Brandon Silvers, Smith redshirted in his second year for the Trojans. Now he is in a competition with Kaleb Barker for the starting quarterback role.

“When I first got here, I wasn’t in the mix,” Smith said. “Brandon was the quarterback. Now me and Kaleb are the guys. We can take this team however far we can go. It’s fun knowing you’re not going to be on the sideline every Saturday.”

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The Trojans are over halfway through fall camp and still without an announced winner of the quarterback battle. Smith has taken things in stride and his having fun during the process.

“It’s been fun,” Smith said. “We don’t have to worry about learning plays; you understand everything that is going on. Things aren’t as fast. I can come out here and relax.”

Before being redshirted during his sophomore campaign, Smith played in six games as a freshman. He threw a 47-yard touchdown pass in his first collegiate attempt. He finished the year completing 18 of his 25 attempts for 181 yards. He completed all of his 17 passes in a game against Austin Peay.

Whether Smith gets on the field as starting quarterback, he feels like his team is ready to make noise again in 2018 despite preseason polls that had the Trojans second in the Sun Belt Conference’s Eastern Division and third overall.

“You can tell we are a good team,” Smith said. “We understand and we see the preseason polls. They are picking us third in the Sun Belt. I think we are hungry and we are going out there and fighting every day.”

Both Smith and Barker have split time with the first-team offense. By doing so, they spend much of their time going up against the stingy first-team defense.

“Our defense is phenomenal,” Smith said. “Every time we go out there and we do ones-on-ones and twos-on-twos, everybody is getting better. Our offensive line is going to be the best they have been in the last three years.”

With a little over two weeks until the start of the season, head coach Neal Brown is in no hurry to announcing his team’s starting quarterback.

“I thought both guys have improved greatly since the spring,” Brown said. “I am excited about both of them. Both of these guys have played in some tough venues. I feel good about the quarterback position. We are in good hands. One of them is going to win the job. We are going to let it play out a little bit.”