Tobias Smith has been through his share of battles over the last five years.
Smith has been one of Mississippi State's most talented offensive linemen since he arrived in 2008. But three separate injuries have derailed his promising career and cost him a majority of three seasons.
The 6-foot-3, 305-pounder suffered a broken ankle during preseason camp in his true freshman season forcing him to redshirt. A leg injury the following August cost him nine games of the 2009 season and a torn ACL in the first series against LSU last year kept him out of the final 10 contests.
Smith missed the entire 2012 spring and has been brought back at opportune times this season. He has played sparingly in five games this year making four starts playing the majority of the Auburn, Tennessee and Alabama games.
"I feel pretty good," Smith said. "For me to be 100-percent at this point in the season is a great job."
Smith earned the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week following his performance against the Volunteers. He graded out at 95-percent in that contest with 12 pancake blocks despite missing most of the second and third quarters.
The Columbus, Miss., native is one of three senior captains representing the Bulldogs and the only offensive captain. Smith takes that leadership responsibility seriously especially being the only senior starter on the offensive line.
"With me being a senior, that's supposed to be my role," Smith said. "I feel like I have an affect on all the guys and they trust me so when I'm in there it's a lot of fun."
Smith was signed as a three-star prospect by former MSU head coach Sylvester Croom as part of the 2008 class. Although he is not the oldest member of the Bulldogs roster, Smith has still picked up nicknames like "Grandpa" and "Old Man" from his teammates.
Even the football staff pokes a little fun in his direction.
"Mr. Phil (Silva) said I was the last of Jackie Sherrill's recruiting class," said Smith of State's head equipment manager.
Through his years in Starkville, Smith has seen the culture surrounding the football program on campus.
"Every week we are expected to win," Smith said. "It's been less pats on the back because now we're expected to win every week."
But this may not be the final season fans see Smith in maroon and white. He plans to apply for a medical hardship with the NCAA and hopes to return for a sixth year of eligibility in 2013.
"As long as they approve it I'm coming back," Smith said.
The coaches and players unanimously support Smith's return next season and that feeling is priceless.
"It makes me proud that all my coaches still trust me with what all I've been through," Smith said. "It holds a real special place in my heart that one day when I get done playing I can look back on this and always smile."
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