Gavin Smart finds his swagger

Gavin Smart finds his swagger

Gavin Smart started two games as a redshirt freshman in 2003, but has since battled injuries while trying to return to game form. Following Sunday's practice, the junior cornerback visited with Inside The Ville and said that he has his swagger back.

Hollywood couldn't have scripted Gavin Smart's first career game any better. As a redshirt freshman in 2003, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound cornerback started in Bobby Petrino's first game as the Cardinals head coach. With the host Kentucky Wildcats trailing 7-0 early in the first quarter, Smart stepped in front of receiver Derek Abney and intercepted a Shane Boyd pass, returning it 41-yards to set up the game's second touchdown. The Lakeland, Florida native also added a career-best six tackles to help the Cardinals defeat UK 40-24.

"That was a great moment," he told Inside The Ville on Sunday. "It was like a dream."

Unfortunately, the perfect beginning didn't last long. With Louisville at 3-0 and climbing into the national polls, Smart injured his shoulder while preparing for a home contest against Temple.

Another shoulder injury mid-way through the 2004 season slowed Smart's return to form, forcing him to the sidelines for the final six games of the year. Now, after spending months going through rehab, Smart is ready to re-start his story.

"I'm glad to be back from my shoulder surgery," Smart said. "I'm finally back at 100% and going full speed. It's great be back out there with the other players and coaches."

Through two days of fall camp, Smart has performed well. He appears to have a strong understanding of the defense and has become of the leaders in the secondary.

"He looks better than he did in the spring," said cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. "He's probably practiced better then all of them so far. He's done a real good job and we're pleased with him."

Smart, who is currently splitting time with returning starter William Gay and redshirt freshman Rod Coucil with the first unit, is making a strong push even more reps with the projected starters.

"The competition is great," he said. "We all push each other everyday. Even though we are going at it all the time, we also help each out. When the young guys see us helping each other it makes them even better."

"The sky is the limit," he continued. "We have a bunch of good ones like William Gay, Rod Council and myself. We also have a bunch of good underclassmen that have some speed that are going to be great. We should be pretty good at corner this year."

With a clean bill of health and performing like many expected after the thrilling start to his career, Smart is looking forward to his return to Commonwealth Stadium.

"I want to get another one this year, but this time I'll take it all the way," he said. "My confidence is back and I have my swagger back. The coaches give me full confidence every day and I'm ready to do it again."

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