Smith Plans to Return for His Senior Season
December 15, 1998
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State defensive end and Walter Camp All-American Robaire Smith announced Tuesday his intention to return for his senior season in 1999. The National Football League's deadline for non-seniors to declare themselves eligible for the draft is Jan. 8.
Smith led the defensive line and ranked fourth on the team in tackles with 52 (23 solos, 29 assists) until suffering a broken leg in the first quarter against top-ranked Ohio State Nov. 7. The 6-foot-5, 268-pounder from Flint, Mich., led the Spartans in tackles for losses with eight (22 yards) through the first eight games, including two-and-a-half sacks (11 yards). He was routinely double- and triple-teamed with bookend Dimitrius Underwood sidelined for the entire season with a high ankle sprain.
He was named Spartan Defensive Player of the Week after recording nine tackles (5 solos, 4 assists) against Northwestern, including three tackles for losses (9 yards) and one-and-a-half sacks (5). Smith delivered a season-high 10 stops (5-5) vs. Indiana, including two behind the line of scrimmage (7 yards). His 6-yard sack late in the fourth quarter helped send the MSU-Indiana game into overtime tied at 24 - a game the Spartans eventually won 38-31 in double overtime. Smith registered eight tackles (2-6) in the 1998 season opener against Colorado State.
"My intention has been to return for my senior season all along," Smith said. "I never gave any serious consideration to entering the NFL Draft early, but there have been so many rumors and so much speculation on talk radio that I felt it necessary to come forward and tell everyone that I'll be back in a Spartan uniform next fall.
"I love being a part of this football program and I believe we're very close to putting a championship-caliber team on the field. I want to be a part of that next season.
"I also came to Michigan State to earn a degree and I'm on schedule to graduate in four years," the communication major said.
A two-year starter, Smith already ranks among MSU's career leaders (No. 6) in sacks with 14 1/2 for 69 yards.
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