Alabama reserve defensive back Maurice Smith said Monday that he’s “willing to go as far as it takes” in his ongoing battle with the Crimson Tide, who have blocked his request to join SEC rival Georgia as a graduate transfer.
In an interview with AL.com, Smith made his first public comments about his battle with the school, saying he’s determined to see the process through because he believes it is “bigger than me.”
“I believe that this will not only help me but help anyone else who comes into my situation in the future,” Smith, a senior who graduated from Alabama in three years, said in the interview. “That’s why I say it’s almost bigger than me because not only am I stepping out on faith but I’m trying to get a point across that if you do everything right you should be awarded what is better for you or best for you if that’s something you choose to do.
“There’s really not a deadline. I’m willing to go as far as it takes to play the season at the school that I desire, which is Georgia.”
In mid-June, AL.com reported that Smith was seeking to leave Alabama as a graduate transfer, which would make him eligible to play immediately at another school.
Saban addressed the issue last week, citing an SEC rule that restricts players from transferring to another SEC school, except under unique circumstances.
“I know there’s a lot of talk out there and interest in the Maurice Smith deal,” Saban said. “Nothing has changed. We support the SEC rule of not granting guys’ release to go to other SEC schools. It has been our policy here not to do that unless there was a special circumstance.”
Saban also said Smith had opportunities to go to schools outside the SEC, but that he and the staff had told Smith he would be a significant contributor this season if he stayed. Alabama opened camp last Wednesday.
“We have told him, ‘Because we support the SEC rule, it would not be in your best interest to have to sit out. If you want to go someplace else [outside the SEC], we’d be glad to help you do that,'” Saban said.
In the AL.com interview, Smith expressed disappointment that what he felt was going to be a simple transfer has “transpired into something far greater.”
“There’s a lot of adversity that’s been thrown at me, the university, coach [Nick] Saban, and it’s really making it something that it’s really not,” Smith said to AL.com. “I believe it was something that was just as simple as a transfer. But now it’s kind of transpired into something far greater, and a lot of bad things have been coming out of this. It’s just very disappointing because I never meant to hurt anyone. … I just feel like I’ve earned the right to better myself my last year and go into this season without any doubts.
“Honestly, it’s not what everyone is making it out to be. It’s not personal. I feel like it’s what’s best for me for my senior year. And this is a hard decision, of course, because I have so much love for all my teammates and all of the staff and everyone for the university, especially all of the love that they’ve shown me over these last three years. And it’s really a business decision. It’s not meant to cause any hurt or harm to the university, to the coaches or to make anyone look bad appearance-wise.”