Linebacker Smith has career day with 16 tackles
BOCA RATON — Florida Atlantic linebacker Rashad Smith spent the past two seasons learning from senior Azeez Al-Shaair.
Now, the student is perhaps becoming the teacher. For a second straight game, Smith led the Owls in tackles. He finished with a career-high 16 in Saturday’s 33-27 victory over Air Force.
“Rashad really had my back,” said Al-Shaair, who has led the team in tackles the past three seasons. “The tackles that he made really covered my butt. I’m just so proud of him how he played.”
Smith helped the Owls seal the win with an interception on Air Force’s final drive with the outcome still in doubt. It was the first of his career.
“Just one stop,” Smith said of the play. “All we needed was one stop to win the game.”
Smith was one of the few Owls defenders to earn praise from coach Lane Kiffin after the blowout loss at Oklahoma. He finished that game with nine tackles.
“Another year and being around Azeez,” Kiffin said of Smith’s improved play. “The guy just works and does a really good job. Sixteen tackles, that’s amazing and last week he was probably one of our only guys that did play well.”
Al-Shaair has played a large role in the development. The two have formed a strong relationship the past couple years. Smith is hoping it can lead to him following AlShaair’s lead. Al-Shaair is considered an NFL draft prospect by most scouting services.
“Just paying attention to detail and just working,” Smith said. “Since Day One, [Al-Shaair has] always been there for me.”
Young leaves game, list at questionable
Safety Jalen Young, a preseason Conference USA first-team selection, left the game with an undisclosed injury in the second quarter. He did not return.
Although Young was able to walk off the field, he spent the second half on the sideline in street clothes. Kiffin listed Young as questionable for next week’s game against Bethune-Cookman at FAU Stadium.
Last year, Young ranked second nationally with seven interceptions.
Early struggles continue for RB
The first two games haven’t been kind to running back Devin “Motor” Singletary.
Saturday marked the second straight game he was held under
100 yards. That was also the case last season, but he went on to top that barrier in the next 12 games on the way to a school-record
During postgame availability, Kiffin playfully joked the reason for the struggles was because of athletic director Brian White’s decision to put up two Singletary billboards on Interstate 95 as part of the school’s Heisman Trophy campaign.
Al-Shaair sets another record with tackle
Al-Shaair added yet another record to his long list.
With five tackles, he is now the school’s career leader in solo tackles with 187. He surpassed Frantz Joseph, who played from 2006-08.