Mississippi State eager to get Smith back

One of Mississippi State’s most important players hasn’t been on the field a whole lot this season.

Coach Dan Mullen is optimistic that will change Saturday when Tennessee comes to town.

Senior offensive guard Tobias Smith looks like a go after playing very little since the Auburn game the second week of the season. He’s been limited by a right knee that exploded on him in the third game last season against LSU.

Smith, who’s been injured three of his four seasons at Mississippi State, has battled back from his knee surgery and fought through the pain as best he could. The Bulldogs have picked their spots with him. He played two series last week against Kentucky and hadn’t practiced any since the week of the Auburn game.

But he’s practicing this week, and Mullen said Wednesday he expects Smith to “play a bunch for us” against the Vols.

That’s big on a couple of fronts for the Bulldogs. When healthy, Smith teams with Gabe Jackson to give Mississippi State one of the most imposing guard tandems in the league. What's more, Smith is also one of Mississippi State’s strongest leaders.

“Hopefully, he gets back now in his routine and can be out there playing on the field, and that just makes him even more of a leader for our guys and more of an inspiration for our guys,” Mullen said. “They know what he’s gone through and how hard he’s worked and what he puts in to be a part of this football team.”