Oct. 10, 2007
At only 5’9 and 188 pounds, you might not know it, but Antone Smith is pound for pound the strongest player on the football team. In the weight room, Smith can bench press 225 pounds for 34 repetitions and has a mind-blowing maximum bench press of 480 pounds. To go along with his super strength, Smith has been timed at 4.3 in the 40 yard dash, showing a rare combination of speed and strength. Running Back Coach, Dexter Carter, says, “Being as strong as he is at his size, I don’t think any other running back has had that, he’s by himself in that category.”
Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden tends to agree with Carter.
“I can’t remember any of them (former Florida State running backs) that have his style.”
Regarding his strength, Smith said “you hear (Seminole nose guard) Paul Griffin talking about how big and strong he is, but I’m the smallest and I’m also the strongest.”
Despite being proud of his own strength, Smith is still team oriented.
“At the same time, we need to come out together as a team and be one strong powerhouse.”
In the offseason Smith rigorously trains for the upcoming season.
“I lifted pretty hard last off-season with coach (Todd) Stroud. I do a lot of running up and down the hill with (rover) Myron Rolle. I try to do a lot of conditioning and speed work.”
Not only did Smith work out during the offseason, but he focused on improving his running style as well.
“The biggest thing that I focused on was patience, I feel like my patience has come a long way. Last year
I wasn’t that patient, but now that I’m the guy, I get a chance to go out there and make mistakes. Then I come back and correct those mistakes.”
Carter can see the commitment that Smith has shown and his willingness to improve.
“The skills that he possesses; strength, speed, nobody can question his work ethic and dedication to working hard. When people hit him, he has more strength than people probably think he has.”
Bowden realizes the importance of having Smith in the starting lineup.
“He’s our number one tailback. He’s very important to this football team and it’s important that
he stays healthy.”
Smith is lucky in that sense.
“I haven’t really had too may injury problems so with the minor things I just take time off.”
Staying healthy is a common goal for the team, if the Seminoles want to be successful in 2007.
“The biggest thing that we need to do is stay healthy. The more we stay healthy, the farther this team is going to go. The last couple of years we have dealt with too many injuries. We know that if we play
together that we can beat anybody.”
Some may see his small size as a drawback, but Smith uses his size to his advantage on the field.
Smith pointed out, “I’m 5’9, with those tall linemen, the defense can’t see me cutting through the holes, which helps me out a lot. There is not really anything that bigger backs can do that I can’t do. I can push the pile, like, bigger because of my strength.”
Bowden can see the benefit as well, “Sometimes being short is an advantage for a runner, he’s hard to find. That’s one advantage that a short guy has, the defense can’t see him.”
Carter agrees. “It is a positive thing when you are small and these big guys are going down field and you can hide behind them, it makes it more difficult for the linebackers and defensive lineman.”
If you’ve ever wondered what goes through Smith’s head right before a play, he says, “first thing that goes through my mind is that I’ve got to hold onto the ball, that’s the biggest thing. I don’t want to fumble
the ball; a fumble on this team is really big. Next thing is thinking about my assignment, what am I looking for and what hole I’m going to try to get through. Also, what my read is and who I’ve got to pick up, which
depends on each play.”
Carter has been keeping a close eye on Smith.
“He’s a pleasure to coach, he’s everything that I thought he would be when I came here, he’s working hard and he keeps getting better.”
Growing up, Smith watched and admired Emmitt Smith, “We have pretty similar size, although Emmitt weighed more than I do. He was pound for pound one of the strongest guys on his team also. He used his size and speed to become the leading rusher in the NFL.”
A current player in the NFL that Smith enjoys watching is LaDainian Tomlinson. “I like the way LaDainian Tomlinson carries the ball and moves in space.”
Much like Tomlinson, Smith is not the biggest running back, but both players have the ability to make defenders miss and possess a rare combination of speed and strength.
By Michael Kudlacik
Sports Information Student Intern