The England fly-half spent his formative years at Welford Road before heading to the West Country in 2013 to join his dad Mike at the Rec.
Four years down the line, he is now back with the Tigers and ready to propel their push for a first title since 2013, when Ford came on after 24 minutes to replace Toby Flood in their 37-17 Grand Final win over Northampton.
Smith was also on the bench that day and admits he is pleased the club have managed to bring the 24-year-old back.
The utility man admits Ford has matured well in his time away and has backed him to add some of the spark that has been missing in recent years.
"It's good to see George back," Smith said. "From what I've seen in training - I played with him last time he was here - he has developed so much.
"He was a good player when he was here last time but he is without doubt world-class and hopefully he can lead as well.
"He is a lot more vocal. He is leading our attack meetings and telling us what he wants as well. If we can provide the tools he needs, we will be all right."