If you didn’t know about the first ever Georgia Bulldog to win the Butkus Award (annually awarded to the best linebacker in school, collegiate and professional football), then firstly, shame on you. However, in his four appearances for the Chicago Bears, he is already turning heads and cementing his name on this year’s red-hot Bears defence.
A Top Prospect As A Bulldog
Smith decided to pursue his talents at the University of Georgia, the state within which he grew up.
In his first year as a freshman, he appeared in 10 games within which he compiled a total of 20 tackles, which is very impressive considering his lack of minutes compared to other starters on the defence.
Entering his sophomore year in 2016, Smith amplified his game. In 13 games he produced 95 total tackles, 1 pass deflection 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery. His 2 forced fumbles ranked fifth in the SEC ‘fumbles forced’ category for 2016.
His Junior year, which was to be his last, was the best yet. In 15 games he amassed 137 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, 2 pass deflections, 2 fumble recoveries and 1 forced fumble. His 85 solo tackles were ranked #1 in the SEC record books for 2017, as well as his total tackles tally for the year. To cap off a great year for him statistically, the Bulldogs would emerge SEC champions, defeating the Auburn Tigers, 28-7. Smith was awarded MVP of the game, as well as the presentation of his Butkus Award at the end of the season.
As aforementioned, Roquan Smith would forego his final year at collegiate level, proceeding to declare his eligibility for the 2018 NFL Draft. At the Draft he was selected 8th overall by the Chicago Bears.
A Shining Star on Defence
Joining the Chicago Bears after winning the Butkus Award comes with enormous pressure, yet Smith has been nothing but a class act on and off the field.
In his first NFL snap he was able to sack DeShone Kizer in the Packers’ own backyard. Since then, he has accumulated a further 21 total tackles playing the role of linebacker, alongside veteran and Super Bowl 50 winner, Danny Trevathan.
Perhaps his greatest weapon is his mindset. Speaking with the Bears media earlier this week, he addressed the form of this team and how they can continue to improve. He said:
“I feel like you can always improve. I heard a saying when I was young – you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse, so I feel like there’s definitely things we can do better.”
“It’s about getting more and more comfortable each and every day. And just taking advantage of every little thing and the reps that I get.”
It’s clear that he has adjusted incredibly well to the transition from the NCAA to the NFL with each statement he makes on and off the field. Moreover, his continuously solid performances are beginning to shape him into a fan favourite among the Bear faithful, something that will continue exponentially if they maintain their fine form.
For me, Roquan Smith could be the next franchise player for the Chicago Bears, who have suffered some poor years in terms of success. Furthermore,rooted on this overpowering defence, I’ve no doubt that his name will go down in Bears history.
In this short documentary you can learn how Roquan Smith became the talent he is today and about the impact his success has had on his hometown.
This guest piece has been written by Greg Forbes. Greg is a Pittsburgh Steelers who not only has love for his team but the NFL itself too. You can follow Greg over on Twitter at @G29750721.
Video Rights – Chicago Bears
Image credit: Chicago Tribune