Jake Smith can 'play just about anywhere'

Jake Smith

University of Louisville senior offensive lineman Jake Smith can play center or the guard position. He'll be one of the keys to the season for the Cardinals, helping anchor the offensive line. Cardinal Authority takes a look at the job of the senior lineman and co-captain.

University of Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino says he isn't sure which position - center or guard - Jake Smith is best at.

The 6-foot-4, 307-pound senior can play both positions and has started games at both positions in the past for the Cardinals.

Petrino said Smith will be starting at the spot that allows the team to "get the five best guys together," on the line.

"That's what we're trying to do, and where Jake will be we don't know for certain," offensive line coach Chris Klenakis said. "He's a very good player and a very smart player and he'll be fine whichever he plays."

Smith, who has started 38 career games at U of L, said he doesn't care what position he plays, noting it's "pretty much the same."

"At this point, they put me in position where I have taken a lot of reps at both," Smith said. "I am comfortable wherever they need me.

"I am comfortable at both places, so it really doesn't matter a lot to me."

But Petrino said it does matter to the team. Smith is one of three veterans back and has started more games than anybody else on the team. He had a streak of 19 straight at one point two years ago and has started for three yeas.

"When we started spring ball, Jake had been at center so we kept him there," Petrino said. "But we needed him at one of the guard positions.

"It allowed us to operate better on offense if we moved Jake to guard. Jake will work both guard and center until we find our best five combination. We are much better now on the line than we were in spring ball."

Petrino said it will be "very interesting" to see where the team will need him the most. He's played a lot of center in the first week and a half of fall camp, but Tobijah Hughley is the other center and has also gotten a lot of reps with the first team at center.

"Jake is a very talented kid who works hard," Klenakis said. "His FBI is outstanding – football intelligence. He knows every position and knows the details and not only that but knows what the defense is doing and the difference.

"We can play him just about anywhere."

Smith started 25 straight games at guard before he had an illness prior to the Sugar Bowl game and didn't start in the win over Florida as a sophomore two years ago.

But last season, Smith moved over into the center spot and started all 13 games. He was named in the preseason to the Outland Trophy and Rimington Award watch lists.

And he was also named a captain for the Cardinals, one of five on the team selected by his teammates and the coaching staff.

"I just want to do whatever I can to help the team and wherever they want me to line up, that's fine," Smith said. "There's not a lot of difference, just slide a little over."

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