NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Brett Smith, QB Wyoming

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Nov 23, 2013; Laramie, WY, USA; Wyoming Cowboys quarterback Brett Smith (16) runs against Hawaii Warriors cornerback Dee Maggitt (23) and linebacker Brenden Daley (56) during the first quarter at War Memorial Stadium. The Cowboys defeated the Warriors 59-56 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

PS: What bothers you the most about not being invited to the Combine?

BS: The thing that bugs me the most is just the fact that, in that situation, I’ve never been a guy, I think it’s just how I grew up, how I was raised, I’ve never been one to back down from any sort of competition and those are the best guys in the country.  And I wanted to be on the same stage as all of them.  I realize that I probably wasn’t probably at a big name school and I wasn’t part of a BCS Championship run or part of a really, really high bowl game the last few years, but at least I’d be there with those guys and I’d try to compete against them.

I would have done absolutely every drill.  I would have thrown, I would’ve… it’s just that at a place like that, I’d be so humble.  I would do every single event, get to meet all of those teams and compete.  It’s not a situation where I’m trying to protect whatever stock I have, but it’s a chance to up it.

I don’t know if you follow CFL much, but Travis Lulay, I was talking with him on the phone.  He was a Grey Cup Champion, he was the MVP a couple years ago.  He’s basically the Aaron Rodgers of the CFL.  I was talking with on the phone, it’s just crazy that if you go to an event like that, probably just because of our mindset, being underdogs, being smaller school guys, being doubted.  We just want that opportunity to compete and go through everything and go about it that way.

PS: Who took the combine snub worse?  You or your dad?

BS: You know, (Laughs) that’s kind of funny.  I was really, really upset about it and I actually took it better than he did, obviously.  He was kind of the guy that talked me off the ledge just because I was pretty disappointed, he was just trying to keep me motivated and does what a dad does.  Obviously, he was disappointed too because he wants to see his son achieve all of his goals.

PS: If you are able to pull out the win against Texas or Nebraska, how much do you think that changes how people look at you?

BS: That’s a tough question; maybe a little too hypothetical for me.  I don’t know how much that would change things, because there are still things people would be critical of and I understand that.  To be honest, I think that’s it.  I think it’s as a simple as that.  Besides just winning the game, I think it would have put us on a national stage if we were able to pull those upsets but at the same time, I think people could still be critical of my throwing motion, my size or whatever else people find issues with.

PS: What are teams getting from wide receiver Robert Herron?

BS: They’re getting great speed, a guy that is committed to work.  He’s very eager to showcase his skills.  He’s another guy that feels like he’s been doubted along the way.  I think a guy with that mentality, I choose a guy like that over a guy that has had everything handed to him.  And Rob’s the kind of guy that loves to work, loves to learn and with all of that aside, all of the attributes he has on the field are just as significant.  He’s able to beat man coverage frequently.  He was able to run by a lot of guys.

And he’s smart.  He understands how to find a hole in the zone and sit down.  So many receivers are like robots where if there’s like a dig, they run the dig and expect the quarterback to throw it.  Well, if there’s a zone, sometimes you can wrap it around the SAM or WILL linebacker.  He’s guy that gets that.  He’ll wrap a route and I think that’s so critical at the next level because the defense is going to be a heck of a lot smarter.  So there are a lot of things when talking about him.

PS: What about cornerback/safety Marqueston Huff?

BS: Old Quest.  He brings a lot of energy every day.  He was kind of the spark of our time.  A little too much sometimes; he’s screaming and all this stuff.  He’s the guy who will wake everybody up.  He’s just a natural born leader.  He’s a guy that did a great job of leading the team last year.  Obviously, with his skills on the field, he hits hard, is extremely fast like Robert, has good hands.  He’s an intelligent player back in the secondary.

PS: Do you keep up with Tashaun Gipson?  Have you reached out to him about the process?

BS: I do. I do.  He had a rough road, but you talk about overcoming the odds.  I haven’t reached out to him about the process.  I haven’t reached out to anyone talked to anyone about the process except Travis Lulay and that was recently.  Obviously, Jordan Palmer is working with the quarterbacks so I’ve talked to him a little bit about it.

I follow him, because he was a really good player and we always got along, he was always a nice guy to me.  So I watch him whenever the Browns are on, I look for #39 and always get excited when he has success.

PS: Is there an assistant coach that had a big impact on you in your time at Wyoming?

BS: Yea, obviously Coach Brandon, I really, really like.  He was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for a few years.  He and I were really, really close and he was close with the backup quarterbacks as well.

#1 though is Pete Kaligis, who was the offensive line coach and is the defensive tackles coach with the new staff.  He’s just an amazing guy.  He’s a man of high character.  We share the same Christian faith, so we were able to connect on that level.  He was really intense and just the nicest guy you’ll ever meet.  Everybody from the players to the coaching staff he was with to the academic faculty and everybody just loves him.  He was a great guy.  He and I were really close.  He came out and he recruited me, so I’d say he’s #1.

PS: When you ultimately finish playing, you have expressed an interest in coaching, so what would you like to do with that?

BS: To be honest, I don’t know.  I have aspirations to go back home and coach, but at the same time, it would be cool to coach in a place like Texas where it is a little bit bigger.  My heart’s always been in West Salem, Oregon because I had such an unbelievable experience there.  I understand kids that want to go to the next level in that place; it’s really hard.  I’d like to be that guy that guys can confide in and talk to and be a positive light to those who are struggling to get an opportunity and try to help them out in any way I can.  That’s something that is important to me and something I understand.

There are even a lot of kids that love the game of football but don’t really think that because it is so rare that there is no chance to go play somewhere else unless it’s somewhere local.  That was something that was also kind of hard to see, but I didn’t want to have that attitude, because it was something I really wanted to do.  Probably just be a positive light and positive influence for those guys is something I really want to do.  I wouldn’t want to go coach in college or coach in the NFL.  I’d love to go back home and be an influence on kids’ lives because that’s a tough age.

PS: So for you as much it is about the football, you’re more interested in being the mentor type/guiding influence type coach and if guys are good enough to go to the next level, more power to them, but you’re more interested in the kids themselves than trying to grind out every title you can?

BS: Yea, no question, because I love football and if we’re able to connect on that level, it’d be something really positive.  It’s something that is really positive and it’s something that’s powerful.  I’m still really close to my head coach at West Salem High School, Sean Stanley.  He had such a positive impact on everybody in West Salem.  Salem is a great place to grow up, but just like every city, there are a lot of issues that are going on.  There are a significant amount of kids that had trouble, whether it was paying to get into camp because there was a fee or had trouble buying clothes or whatever.  He was always a guy who would help and the other coaches as well.

That was something that really struck a chord with me, something I wanted to do, something I wanted be a part of; to kind of share the love with football.  When it’s about your neighborhood, the school pride and all that, there’s nothing better than that, especially at that age.  It’d be something really cool to relate to kids in that way and also I understand that high school is tough.  You’re gonna experience a lot and there are gonna be a lot of new things you’re gonna have to learn and go through.

That is who my dad was for me.  I talked to him about absolutely everything and if I didn’t have him to vent to and talk about things with, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  If I can just share some wisdom, that’s kinda my ultimate goal.

PS: What type of stuff have you done off the field at Wyoming and maybe stuff you hope to be able to do in the NFL?

BS: I got a few opportunities to go to a few elementary schools and read to kids.  That’s a soft spot for younger kids.  They’re a total blessing.  Nothing can bring them down; every single one of them is so happy all the time.  So when you go to a school and hang with them, it’s so much fun.

When I got to go back home, one of my coaches asked if I could talk to a group of football players that were going to be going to West Salem.  That was probably the most fun, but all of them were saying how they were following Wyoming.  Getting to go back home and talk to kids that are going to my high school and have aspirations of being football players at some point.  Just talking to them and trying to understand; trying to be that guy that they can talk to and understand that I’ve been there.  That’s something that goes a long way with guys.

–  It was obviously a pleasure to be able to speak with Brett and it is still shocking that he did not get invited to the combine.  Nevertheless, whether it is at his Pro Day in Laramie, private workouts with teams, or going on a bus tour across the country, it seems like he is going to do everything he can to show teams he can play at the next level.  Here is my breakdown of Smith and why I think he can be successful in the NFL.