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Forget the Accolades

Smith looks to take the program a step futher, while cherishing the underdog role

Senior quarterback Rusty Smith seems to have his name everywhere.

He has been named one of 21 nominees for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. The recipient of this award will be announced in November.

Smith is the current record holder for passing attempts (1,073), completion's (603), yards (8,197), touchdowns (62), and rushing and pass total yards (7,930).

He was the 2007 New Orleans Bowl MVP and the 2008 Motor City Bowl Offensive MVP. He is a two-time Palm Beach County Amateur Athlete of the Year and the 2007 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, as well as the 2008 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

Smith is 15-11 over the last two seasons, helping guide the FAU football program to its first bowl game, as well as back-to-back bowl victories. FAU was the only team in the state to do so.

On Friday, August 7, Coach Howard Schnellenberger made certain that he would do everything possible to see Smith's name would be connected to the new on campus stadium in Innovation Village which is now expected to open in 2011.

“I'll lobby that if Yankee Stadium is the house that Ruth built, then Innovation Village is the house that Rusty Smith built,” Schnellenberger said. “There aren't enough words that can tell you what he's meant to building this football program.

“Rusty is at a point where he is fundamentally sound at everything he does. He just needs to work on refinements of what he's done.”

Accolades aside, at FAU's media day press conference, Smith deflected all of the praise that he's been getting and focused on the upcoming season.

However, he did recognize one major difference between the expectations of the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

“This year our team is used to the attention we're getting now then we were last year,” Smith said. When you're the favorite, you have a bulls-eye on your back and your game is circled. Being an underdog is something we like.”

When asked if his leadership role will increase because he's in his final season, Smith added, “Just because I'm a senior doesn't mean anything. I felt I was a leader when I stepped on campus. It's a character trait where you either have it or you don't. If you're a leader, you're a leader.”

Smith's biggest fan besides Coach Schnellenberger is outgoing President Frank T. Brogan.

Does Brogan feel Smith has put the FAU football program on the map?

“If you look back at his credentials over the last three years and his accomplishments, he's been MVP at about everything he's attempted including conference MVP & two consecutive bowls,” Brogan said. “ The answer is YES!

When you look at Florida Atlantic football right now, it's greatest ambassador in the face of FAU football has got to be Rusty Smith. He's clearly a great leader for this team on and off the field.

"He's the kind of young man that we like to showcase at FAU as one of our student athletes, and we're proud of him. He's another young man in my hopeful amateur opinion is draft bait next year. He's tall, strong, 6-5, 225 pounds and he can throw the ball on the run.  A very intelligent player. I believe we'll see Rusty Smith playing on Sunday. He'll be the first player from our University to ever be selected in the NFL Draft in April of 2010", said Brogan.