When redshirt junior receiver Jay Smith arrived at NC State, he was considered the prize recruit in the 2007 class. Smith has managed to find the playing field at NC State, appearing in 11 of the 12 games last fall, missing the one contest with the H1N1 virus.
However, Smith still only caught five passes for 59 yards last year. This spring, Smith said that he is trying to master the offense so that his numbers will improve.
"I know it, but it's all good when you that you know the offense so that you can make plays like naturally and don't think about it too much," Smith said. "I know all three positions. We got all different positions at receiver, so knowing all three is key in order to be successful in the offense."
His comfort level at all receiver positions is part of the reason why Smith feels more ready to contribute this fall.
"Anyway they put me, anyway they can use me," Smith said. "Right now I'm not picky, anyway I can contribute to the team would be good."
Smith appeared to have made positive contributions this spring, catching five passes for 43 yards in the first scrimmage this past Saturday.
"Just studying over my playbook, going into practice and even in the scrimmage, just knowing what I'm supposed to do in my assignments, it allowed me to play at a lot faster pace and know exactly what I'm supposed to do when I go into my route," Smith noted.
"The spring has been great. They guys, they've really come together so far. We're just trying to get the little things right so we can make big plays out there on the field when the season comes around."
Smith knows that the time has come for him to step up and become a major contributor, but he does not feel like this year is a make or break campaign by any stretch.
"I've learned that don't put the pressure on yourself to prove anything," Smith said. "Just go out there and play football just like you've been all your life. When you do that, just like in life, things will come your way. You just have to be humble and accept it."
Smith also knows that the receiving corps at NC State is loaded. Seniors Owen Spencer, Jarvis Williams and Darrell Davis and junior T.J. Graham are all back. That foursome combined to catch 112 passes for 1,821 yards and 19 touchdowns last year. Redshirt junior Steven Howard caught 11 passes for 112 yards before injuring his knee, and he is missing spring practice.
Smith has talked with graduate assistant Brian Blick, who helps handle the receiving corps, and offensive coordinator and receivers coach Dana Bible about being patient.
"That's not a problem for us," Smith added. "We know that as a group if we are all successful, that will bring more attention our way. If you just grind and do what you need to do as an individual, your time will come. Coach Blick and me have talked about things like that just to keep me on track and focused. Coach Bible does a good job that we all focus on what we have to do individually."
Smith though hopes that at some point next year he can rise up and make a big catch over a defensive back in the end zone.
"I can go up and get the ball," Smith said. "That's one thing I like to do. Even when I play basketball I just like to dunk. I don't like to shoot that much. Just going up to get the ball is my favorite."