Apopka (Fla.) running back Tom Smith pledged his services to the Tennessee Volunteers in June. On Thursday night, against district rival Orlando (Fla.) Olympia he showed Derek Dooley and company a bit of what they are getting - a workhorse who has a nose for the endzone. Smith rushed for 203 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries in a hard-fought victory.
"It was amazing," Smith said of the win. "I wouldn't be able to do it without my offensive line. I think I might have to take all five of them out to eat. They opened some big holes for me and I just ran through them."
Despite Tennessee's 2-5 start and the fact they are winless in the SEC, Smith hasn't considered backing off his commitment. That hasn't stopped other schools from contacting him, but he tells them all the same thing.
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"I am still firm to Tennessee," Smith said. "It so much of a family and they stay together. Even though they are having a little bit of a rough season now, they are still together and acting as one big family."
"My only official visit will be to Tennessee," Smith added. "I am going to take it around December."
He feels that there are much better days ahead in Knoxville, and that he can be part of the turnaround.
"Everybody on the team is young, so when our time comes we are going to be in a bowl game," Smith said. "We are going to try to win there. I am going to try to help them do that."
Smith said that Derek Dooley recently called him but they didn't get an opportunity to speak. He expects to see him at a game in November. In the meantime, he is keeping up with a Tennessee assistant on a regular basis.
"I talk with Coach (Darin) Hinshaw the most," Smith said. "We have a very good relationship. He calls me any chance he gets, before their games, before my games, and we just talk about anything, life."
Academically, Smith recently earned a 21 on the ACT. With his academics in order and his senior season rolling along, Smith is starting to think about his next stop and trying to contribute early for the Volunteers.
"It is all up to me and how I do with the playbook," Smith said. "If I do well, if I am ready to play, then I think I have a shot to contribute when I get there. If I need more time to help them, then I will do what the coaches tell me that I should do."
On the season, Smith has 130 carries for 920 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. He missed two games due to injury but is now fully recovered.