The Saskatchewan Roughriders are clearly Brett Smith’s team.
One of the first things interim head coach Bob Dyce did when he took control of the team was name the 23-year-old rookie pivot his starter for Sunday’s Labour Day Classic.
“It felt it good. Obviously, I want to start if the opportunity is given to me,” said Smith.
“I just love my guys and I love the team. I want to play with them. I give my heart every game.”
The feelings Smith feels toward the rest of the team are definitely mutual. Since Smith became the team’s starting quarterback for their game in Edmonton on July 31, it’s been pretty clear that the team has rallied around him.
“I’d agree with everybody that he’s made some big steps in his first few games,” said offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte.
“Hopefully if we can go out there and execute up front and give him some time that we’ll be able to see him showcase his talents.”
LaBatte wouldn’t admit that when Smith was pulled against the Redblacks in favour of Tino Sunseri, the mood on the field changed.
“I just love my guys and I love the team. I want to play with them. I give my heart every game.” — Quarterback Brett Smith
One thing that is true though, the players know who gives them the best chance to win; right now, that’s Smith.
“It’s a definitely a relief (to have Smith named the starter) to a lot of us. All of us are behind him. We believe he gives us the best shot to win,” said defensive lineman Tearrius George.
For Smith, all of this support means the world to him.
“That means everything, actually. Just because I want to earn their respect and their trust and their confidence,” he said.
“Because I want them to know that my heart is in it for them. It’s all about getting them a win.”
It’s that attitude that has the players backing Smith. They see a quarterback out there every game doing everything he can to try and win.
“He’s always looking to make the play. He wants to be the guy that puts the offence on his back,” said LaBatte.
The players are hardly the only ones getting behind Smith. The team’s management has endorsed the former Wyoming quarterback as well.
President and CEO Craig Reynolds told reporters at Tuesday’s news conference that he believes Smith gives them the best chance to win.
The fans? They seem to love Smith as well. Once Smith was pulled against Ottawa, Rider fans on social media started bombarding Smith with messages of support.
“It certainly was overwhelming,” said Smith.
“It was pretty incredible. The reaction and the support that the fans here give. That’s something I love being a part of.”