NASHVILLE, Tenn. — **Titans defensive lineman Mike Smith played football and basketball growing up, and in high school, he was a member of his school's track and field team.
Smith could also sing, but he pretty much kept that to himself.
"I was always really shy,'' said the 6-foot-4, 285-pounder, who joined the Titans as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Mississippi back in May.
On Monday night, Smith will stand up and face the music. He'll actually be responsible for it. Coach Mike Mularkey asked Smith to sing the National Anthem before the team's practice at Nissan Stadium, which is open to fans.
"I am pretty sure I'll have some nerves,'' Smith said with a smile. "But I'm just going to close my eyes and go with it."
Mularkey said Smith's a good singer, otherwise he wouldn't have put him on the spot. But he hasn't told the team about Smith singing on Saturday night. It's a surprise for everyone but the defensive linemen.
During the first week of training camp, some members of the team's rookie class have been called upon to sing before the team, oftentimes before their position groups.
When Smith sang, he impressed.
"He got picked out for being a rookie, and he kept singing good, so they quit picking him,'' Mularkey said. "He got up in front of the team the other night because we had three really bad performances, and I looked at them and said, 'Pick Mike Smith' because I knew he could sing. And he knocked it dead.
"So I asked him (to sing the National Anthem). The only thing I am worried about is him remembering the lyrics. But he will not embarrass himself."
Smith, a four-year letterman at Southern Miss who played in 48 games, said he was initially hesitant about accepting Mularkey's invitation.
He didn't sing in the choir in high school, and he hasn't performed in front of big crowds in the past. He's practiced in from of his buddies on the defensive line, however, which has made him more comfortable. Smith thinks his fellow defensive linemen are the only ones aware he'll be singing Monday night.
"I was a little nervous when Coach first asked me because I've never performed in front of crowds and definitely not the National Anthem in front of somebody,'' Smith said. "Coach told me I could take my time to think about it and I thought, 'Wow, this is a big opportunity.' So I told him I would go ahead and do it. I practiced it and the guys said I sounded good. They said, 'You've got this.'
"Singing is something I love to do, besides playing football. So I put a lot of time into it. I have always been my biggest critic, but other people tell me, 'You sound amazing.'
"It is all or nothing with it. God gave it to me, so I might as well use it. I'll be ready."
Titans players take the field for Day 6 of training camp at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)