In his breakthrough senior season, Kevin Smith had 50 catches for a team-best 765 yards and four touchdowns for the Huskies last fall. He was also one of the most respected voices in the UW locker room.
Although he remains a bit of an underdog heading into the NFL Draft (May 8-10), he is optimistic that he will have a shot to catch on with a team this summer.
We caught up with Kevin on Thursday, a day after he took part in a workout at the Seahawks’ headquarters in Renton.
Times: Since the bowl game, what’s the process been like for you the past few months to try to showcase yourself to scouts and NFL teams?
Smith: From Day 1, it was kind of overwhelming, confusing. I didn’t really know where to start from. And then as I found my agent (Scott Weitz) it started to get a little easier for me. That took some weight off my shoulders, knowing who was going to represent me. And then I got after it — doing the necessary training and all things I needed to do for Pro Day, knowing I wasn’t really going to have a chance to go to the NFL combine. I just starting grinding and getting ready. It felt like Pro Day (at UW, held April 2) was a long, long way a way, and after of awhile a lot of us were just ready to get it over with and show all the teams what we are capable of doing. Now, after the Pro Day, it a big relief and we’re basically just waiting. We’re getting good responses and feedback from the different teams, so we’ve got a good vibe going into the draft.
Times: The general sense from UW’s Pro Day was that you opened some eyes there. What do you think you were able to show and what kind of response have you gotten from that?
Smith: I just wanted to show my natural ability. I’m really athletic, and I don’t think a lot of people know that. I wanted the show the explosiveness in my vertical jump and my broad jump, and show the quick change of direction and fast feet. Most important, run good routes and catch the play. I really wanted to show my versatility — I can do multiple things on offense and special teams. That’s what I played in college, including all four phases of special teams, and I got the ball in my hands a lot of different ways on offense.
Times: You had another workout with the Seahawks on Wednesday (along with nine other former Huskies) during their local pro day. How did that go?
Smith: It was the same thing. We went through all the drills they wanted us to do again, and I feel like we all had a great day. We were all fired. They were happy to have us, and we were happy that we got invited. Everything went great.
Times: What’s your training been like?
Smith: I went back to California for a month to work on my speed. I was actually working on my speed with Maurice Green (the former 100-meter world-record holder). That was a blessing to meet him and get some tips from him.
Times: How did that get set up with him?
Smith: Just through some friends back home (in Los Angeles). So I called him and we set up it up, and I went down there for a month and worked with him in Redondo Beach. In my 40, I had a tendency to start running (upright) before I had in my first 10 or 15 yards, so he was helping me to stay in my drive phase more, and then my arm pump, too. I switched up my stance to be as explosive as possible at the start.
Times: What’s your message to scouts when you talk to them?
Smith: I feel like I’m a dirty-work guy. I can do the scrappy stuff, the dirty work on the field. I take pride in that, in being a team player. Anything the coaches ask me to do, I can do. I feel like they can use me a lot in different areas of their system.
Times: How satisfying was last season for you as a senior, staying healthy and helping the team breakthrough to nine wins?
Smith: It was very satisfying. It all comes down to confidence, having that confidence in yourself and in your teammates. I felt like last year was great. We had a successful year. Some of those losses we could’ve had (as wins), but at the same time I feel it was a great ending. I feel like I did what I had to do and what I was asked to do. It was great. I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Times: So what are the emotions as the draft approaches?
Smith: I’m excited. I can’t wait for it to happen and see what happens. I just have to stay in there and keep grinding. You can’t get satisfied at this moment. You have to have a great mindset with all this. Anything can happen. I might get picked in the seventh round or something, I don’t really know. But mostly likely I’ll go undrafted, but it only takes one team — that’s my mindset. Where ever I go, I’m going to work hard and do everything to the best of my ability.