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Kickin' back | Clifton Smith

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kickin' back with rookie RB Clifton Smith

How does Clifton Smith get ready for a game? With a little Young Jeezy or Lil’ Wayne on his iPod.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

How does Clifton Smith get ready for a game? With a little Young Jeezy or Lil’ Wayne on his iPod.

Matt Garza being a former teammate of yours, you must have watched the World Series with great interest.

I watched, but it was a bad series overall. It wasn't that interesting. It was a series full of errors and not a lot of offense — by the Rays anyway. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard did pretty well for themselves, but all in all, it wasn't a great series.

Do you keep in touch with Matt?

I've talked to him a couple of times since I've been down here. He and I have been real busy. We haven't had a chance to really get together and hang out.

So, your high school team must have been pretty good, I suppose.

Well, we actually went to different high schools, rival high schools. But we played on the same summer (travel) team together. We played in our World Series in Nevada, and we'd travel all over, like down to San Diego.

If you went to rival high schools, then you've faced his pitching, right?

I did when I was a freshman and he was a junior. I played varsity all four years. He definitely used to throw the ball hard, but he couldn't find the strike zone to save his life back then. I guess it was his senior year and once he got to college, he really started to develop.

What did you think of the way Matt pitched this season and how he's developed?

He's been real successful. I was real proud to see how far he's come. To see him out there during the playoffs, it was amazing. We played together back in high school; now we're in the same town watching our dreams come true.

So, how serious were you about baseball?

I was actually pretty good. I played centerfield. I was going to be drafted coming out of high school. I got offered good money to stop playing football. The Dodgers wanted to draft me out of high school. They offered me a lot of money to quit football, but I didn't want to. So, I just left baseball alone. I tried to do it in college, but it was bad timing, and it didn't work out.

Which sport was your first love?

My first love was always football because I like contact sports. I just have a lot of fun. Baseball isn't really a boring game, but it's a slow-developing game. You have to really have a real appreciation for the game to get into it.

So, how much baseball do you follow today?

I still follow baseball, but not like I used to. I was a Seattle fan back when they had Ken Griffey, (Jay) Buhner and Edgar (Martinez). That was my team back then. When I started to grow up, I started to follow Boston a lot more.

You're a long way from home for the first time. Has it been a big adjustment?

I was born and raised in Fresno, I went to Fresno State — all that. You don't have a friendly face for miles. My family comes as much as they can, but it hasn't been that much. But the whole family is coming to see me for the Minnesota game (Nov. 16), so I'm looking forward to that.

Our first weekly question: What's playing most on your iPod nowadays?

It all depends on what kind of mood I'm in. If I'm getting ready for a game, I'll probably have on (rappers) Young Jeezy or Lil' Wayne. If I'm just driving down the road on a relaxed day, I'll put on some R&B. But you know what? For some reason I've been on this old-school kick lately. Stuff like Teddy Pendergrass, Lenny Williams, stuff like that.

And what Web site do you visit most?

Oh, man, it's a Web site that I always said I wasn't going to get into. Since I've been here and away from everybody, I broke down and got a Facebook page. I was never a Facebook or MySpace person. I always believed that those should have the slogan "Breaking up a relationship near you." Everybody gets in trouble on there. I didn't want that.

It's like one big gossip room, isn't it?

Yes. If someone wants to be nosy, they can go look on this other girl's page to see if you're leaving messages on her page, or whatever.

And when you have the rare free moment away from here, how have you spent your time?

The rookies go bowling a lot, at least every Monday. If I'm not bowling, then I'm probably at home.

What is it with you running backs and bowling?

I know. Cadillac (Williams) and Earnest (Graham) are probably the best bowlers on the team. Right now, I'm doing okay. I had a game the other night around 210. Me and (quarterback) Josh Johnson have a big battle going on. He actually outdid me and got a 216. Actually, after we're done with this, I'm going to get some practice in.

Rookie running back Clifton Smith played high school baseball in Fresno, Calif., with Rays pitcher Matt Garza, but even Smith had a hard time getting through the World Series. If you really want to keep his attention, challenge him at bowling.

>>Fast facts

Clifton Smith

Position: Running back

Height, weight: 5-8,

190 pounds

Age: 23

College: Fresno State; finished with 630 career rushing yards and five touchdowns; had 47 punt returns for 782 yards and five touchdowns; set NCAA record in 2005 with three punt returns for 189 yards and two touchdowns against Weber State.

Pro: Spent the first seven weeks this season on the Bucs practice squad; promoted to active roster last week; returned five punts for 82 yards, including team seasonlong 20-yarder.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kickin' back with rookie RB Clifton Smith 11/01/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 3, 2008 6:59pm]
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