Before he made his mark as one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, Emmitt Smith was a star at Florida, re-writing the program’s record books and eventually departing as a 3-time All-SEC pick and an All-American in 1989.

Naturally, the College Football and Pro Football Hall of Famer—and the NFL’s all-time leading rusher—feels that his former program is the one to end the 3-year reign of Georgia as the top team in the SEC East.

“Georgia’s always retooling something, but (they) have lost some stuff too,” Smith said during an interview on SiriusXM on Thursday. “It’s up to the Gators to really rise up and show that they’re worthy to knock them off of that mantle.”

While acknowledging the various predictions that are made before every season, Smith stresses that playing the games themselves truly determine how a season progresses.

“You don’t win games on paper,” he said. “You have to get out there and show that you’re worthy and show that you’ve earned the right to be in the contest against the opposing team and knocking them off.”

Smith highlighted one advantage that Florida has over Georgia: its situation at quarterback, where 1st-team All-SEC selection Kyle Trask will lead the way. That’s been a big question mark for the Dawgs with JT Daniels having not started a game since Aug. 31, 2019; redshirt D’Wan Mathis yet to take a snap; and presumptive starter Jamie Newman opting out of his final year of eligibility.

“You have to take advantage of the quarterback that you actually have, and (Trask) has to be ready and elevate his game to the next level in order (for them) to be the team you want them to be,” Smith said.