2012 NFL Draft: Texas A&M University Cornerback Lionel Smith
By Scott Bischoff (Contributor for Bleacher Report) March 27, 2012
Lionel Smith played a backup role at cornerback for Texas A&M University. At his recent pro day, he measured in at 5’11-3/4" and 192 pounds, and he ran a blazing 4.41-second 40-yard dash. He had an amazing pro day workout. His numbers should make football people take notice.
On top of the 4.41 second 40-yard dash—which is seventh-fastest among cornerbacks at the combine—Smith put up a 10’7” broad jump (fourth-highest among all cornerbacks). His vertical jump was 38”, also fourth-highest.
Smith put up 17 repetitions of 225 pounds and ran a short shuttle time of 4.20 seconds, putting him in the middle of the pack in those categories. These are great numbers for Smith and a testament to what kind if athlete he is.
I got the chance to talk with him after his pro day workout, and we talked about his time at college, the NFL and life. I asked him what his favorite moment from college was. He said, “Just playing in front of all the college students and Kyle Field was a crazy atmosphere, so that really, you know, gets your adrenaline going and getting ready to play in front of all of those students.”
I asked what it was like to play football at Texas A&M. He told me, “That was a great experience for me. I mean, I learned a lot playing with Coach Sherman and his staff. You know, I had some great teammates, some real good guys, and then just the student body and just A&M overall, that's just a real good school. I really enjoyed myself.”
We talked about the competition that he faced at A&M and what that was like. He told me that he lined up against Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon and that as a whole, the team faced some great competition from Robert Griffin III to Colt McCoy.
He talked about the guys that he cornered with, from Terence Frederick to Coryell Judie. Even in practice, they faced some stiff competition going against Jeff Fuller and Uzoma Nwachukwu, not to mention Ryan Tannehill.
We talked about the Tannehill experience and what that was like on a practice-by-practice basis. “Just getting ready to go into the games and stuff working against Tannehill, you know, just really good work.” He talked about how good Tannehill was. “He would look off for us, looking different ways and then come back to that side.” He said Tannehill threw a real tight spiral and his ability to locate made him “really concentrate on my feet work and coming out of my breaks.”
We turned the focus of our conversation to the NFL and his place there. I asked what he could offer to an NFL team. He said, “I'm a physical, hard-working corner. I’m going to work hard because, I mean this is something I really want, it's a dream of mine, so I'm going to get there and I'm going to work hard and I'm going learn the program and give them my best effort.”
He told me that he was positive that special teams would be in his future and he was ready, willing and able to do that. He said he really enjoys special teams.
I asked what the fans were going to get from him and he said, "If they go and look at my history, I was a kid that came from Katrina. I only got to play four games in my senior year in high school.” He told me that he got over 20 offers while only playing those four games. He talked about all of the obstacles that have been thrown his way and how he has persevered through it all.
“They are going to get a real good person in the locker room and a guy that gets along easily with everybody and is going to get out there and work his butt off every day, you know, to help their team.”
He wanted to talk about his father, a person he considers to be a mentor for him. He said, “Every time I had questions or I was feeling down or anything, I always called him, like, you know, he's able to give me some words of encouragement and give me some things just to keep on fighting through.”
He talked about his family and how supportive they were. “I also have a really good family. They would call and check on me daily, you know with words of inspiration and words of encouragement. So I had a real good supportive family.”
We talked about his faith, and this was big for him as he went through Hurricane Katrina and was displaced and had to move away from home. He said “Everything happens for a reason. I mean, before the hurricane I didn't really have too many offers coming out of high school going into my senior year.”
“But once I got to my senior year the hurricane hit and I went to Houston and played those four games, I got l over 20 scholarship offers.” He said that it taught him to trust in God’s plan and it is a lesson for him.
Lionel Smith had a phenomenal pro day and put up some great numbers. He has been through it all and has come out on top, and that’s the way he plays. Lionel Smith is a winner and wants to help a team become a winner too.
Scott Bischoff is a Contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials.