Workingman’s friend: Smith just goes about his business
JU senior Chance Smith has three games remaining in his college career and for the first three years, eight games he’s been a coach’s dream.

When talking football the first words out of his mouth are about team, not about Chance Smith. He’s the working man’s friend at defensive end, not flashy, but in-the-dirt steady.

“We talk about it all the time,’’ head coach Kerwin Bell said. “(Defensive line) Coach (Ernie) Logan has a good description: Chance does all the dirty work nobody sees.’’

Smith, from Tallahassee, Fla., is blue collar on the field.

“I would agree with that,’’ he said this week. “I’m a first, second down player, short yardage third down. I may not make as many big plays as other d-linemen but I’m in there doing my job.’’

Bell, too, agrees, even when Smith has been banged up a little.

“He has been banged up, but he’s always there and ready to play,’’ he said. “He plays the run extremely well and has had a really good last couple years in our program.’’

The last couple of years has turned in to less than a month to go and that isn’t lost on the computer science major who, as usual and without prodding, turns the talk to team and that the Dolphins, despite the loss two weeks ago to San Diego, still can get a piece of the Pioneer Football League championship pie.

“It’s down to the final three games, it’s all I’ve got,’’ he said. “We control our destiny and it’s time to do it. We’ve had a lot of big moments, a lot of big plays this season and we’ve had some heartbreakers, some let downs. We can do this, it’s not out of our capabilities.’’

Finally, he intersperses some self-talk when encouraged.

“I’ve been playing football since seventh grade,’’ he said. “I thought about it the other day and it really is three games and I’ve got probably less than 10 practices, too. It’s coming to the point where this is it. The ball’s still in our court, we can still get a ring if we do our thing. We’ve got to buckle down.’’

Smith said his time at JU has been better than expected. He indicated he wasn’t even sure college ball, much less Division I college ball, was going to be an option out of high school.

“This was the only school I was going to go to play football,’’ he said. “They gave me a chance here. I’m happy where I’m at; I’ve got a good education. This line has been together since my sophomore year, we’re a tight knit groups and we’ve been doing it for a while.’’

He credits the Dolphin coaches with his satisfaction.

“They’ve helped me a lot; I’ve been through a lot here,’’ he said. “I’ve been in Coach Logan’s office several times going over problems I’ve had, he can attest to that. They gave me a chance so I do what I can.’’

That apparently has been enough.

“He’s really grown up a lot,’’ Bell concurred. “He’s become a good leader we can depend on.” That’s all a coach can really ask for.

- Jim Nasella