With all the hype and hoopla that has surrounded his football career, Geno Smith said he feels like he has been some sort of reality-based television show.
"I feel like I'm on Survivor," he says laughingly, "and I made it to the final week."
Saturday will be the final time the Heisman-hyped West Virginia quarterback steps on to Mountaineer Field, as the team takes on Kansas at 2:30 p.m. Smith said having to step into such a limelight four years ago as a back-up to Jarrett Brown and the heir apparent to the legendary Pat White forced him to mature rapidly.
"I've had to do it before the Mountaineer media and the fans," he said. "It's helped me to become a better man."
Smith admitted he didn't know much about the state and its culture when he came north one summer with former Mountaineer Damon Cogdell to attend a camp at West Virginia University. Cogdell was Smith's high school football coach in Miramar, Fla.
"I didn't know where we were going," he said. "I just knew we were going some place to play football again. Being here, it has taught me how important (the football team) is to the community."
He arrived on campus with high school teammate Stedman Bailey, but Bailey was red-shirted his first year. Bailey, a junior eligiblity-wise, could bolt for the NFL after the season, putting the dangerous Mountaineer passing connection in the same draft.
"I rarely talk to him about that," Smith said. "I believe Stedman can be drafted and drafted high. But it doesn't come down to me. Whatever his decision is, I will support him. It's been extremely important to me to have Stedman here the whole time."
Smith's presence will continue to be felt in the program even after he leaves.
Assistant coach Jake Spavital said Smith's work ethic has already rubbed off on back-ups Paul Millard and Ford Childress.
"He tries to help out Paul and Ford all the time," Spavital said. "He's always out there coaching. I have a lot of faith in Paul and Ford. They will step up and fill Geno's shoes. Geno has challenged them."
Spavital said he will miss the drive with which Smith plays each and every game and practice.
"He gets really (angry) when he loses," Spavital said. "That's the kind of guy you want to have out there."
Smith said that competitive spirit has affected his social life, at least that's what his friends and family tell him.
"I probably take what happens on the football field out on them," he said. "I am hard on myself even after a win, so I'm even harder on myself after a loss. I have tried to put things into perspective."
He knows he will have a hard time keeping things in perspective when he comes
out of the tunnel for the final time wearing the Mountaineer colors.
"I'm never nervous, but I know I'm going to have to fight back the tears," he said. "I'll try not to cry, but I probably will. I'll try to soak it all in.
"No disrespect to Kansas, but we seniors obviously want to leave a lasting impression in our last game at Mountaineer Field."