As a sophomore, Smith again started every game, and began to earn accolades for his skill on the offensive line. He was a co-winner of the SEC's Jacobs Blocking Trophy, along with Arkansas' Jonathan Luigs, and a 2007 Coaches First-Team All-SEC selection.
Smith started 12 regular-season games in 2008, missing only the Tulane game with a sprained left knee. Overall, he played 38 games in his Alabama career. Prior to the 2009 Sugar Bowl, Smith was suspended by Alabama coach Nick Saban for an unspecified violation of team rules. ESPN's Joe Schad reported that Smith had improper contact with an agent, which would have made him ineligible for the game. Without Smith, Alabama lost to Utah in the Sugar Bowl.
Despite that, the honors continued to roll in for Smith. He became the 63rd recipient of the Outland Trophy, presented annually to college football's best interior lineman or linebacker. Smith was the first Alabama winner since Chris Samuels earned the award in 1999. In addition, he was a unanimous first-team All-SEC selection by the The Sporting News, SEC head coaches and Phil Steele. Smith was named Alabama's Offensive Player of the Year.
Despite his pre-draft issues, Smith was selected in the first round (6th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Smith was the second offensive lineman selected, behind Jason Smith of Baylor (2nd overall, Rams).
Smith held out of training camp, missing the Bengals first three preseason games before agreeing to a four-year contract with $21M in guaranteed money. The Bengals hold an option after the 2010 season that would turn Smith's contract into a six-year/$42M deal with $29.5M in guarantees.
Smith suffered a fracture in his left foot during a non-contact drill on Sept. 1, 2009. The Bengals received a roster exemption for Smith during Week 1. He was added to the roster before Week 2, but was inactive for each of the Bengals first 10 games. He made his NFL debut as a reserve against the Browns on Nov. 29, 2009. Smith made his first career start in Week 14 against the Vikings. It was his only start in six regular-season games as a rookie.