Along with the stiff competition, Smith also faced internal questions about just how bad he wanted to play, and work to play.
In the middle of spring practices, Smith went missing, before Moore and others convinced him to come back.
“Coach (Mike) Gundy pulled me in his office and talked to me,” Smith said. “I had a lot of talks with my mom and my dad.”
Moore chimed in, too, offering the words that Smith needed to hear.
“I'm definitely happy for Jeremy,” Moore said. “We're like best friends. I talked to him a lot, told him to stick with it — ‘It's going to be fine. It's going to be OK.' And I was really blowing smoke, because I really didn't know.
“So I'm happy he's got the opportunity now. I know he's excited, because he works harder than probably anybody else on the team. I don't expect it to drop off at all from what Joseph Randle has done. Jeremy's a very talented back and I expect him to do great things.”
Smith's career has been on the upswing ever since his spring of discontent.
In 2011, he ran for 646 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 7.1 yards per carry as the backup to Randle. Last year, although injuries cut into his availability, he remained productive, running for 371 yards and eight TDs while again serving as Randle's apprentice.
For Gundy, there's plenty of evidence that Smith is ready for his enhanced role.
“He's played well, scored and made some good runs against really good, quality opponents in our league,” Gundy said.
For Smith, his learned patience is finally paying off.
“I've been an Oklahoma State fan my whole life,” he said. “And to be the guy, the starting running back, is just a blessing from God.
“I have to take full advantage of the situation. I thank the coaches for believing in me. And for always talking to me and keeping my mind set on the game.”