For our final installment of the NFL Draft Diaries, I decided to interview an up-and-coming star with fresh memories on his draft day experience. WR Torrey Smith went through his process just barely one year ago, waiting to become one of the next big playmakers for the Baltimore Ravens.
Smith’s going into his 2nd year of his NFL career, and with great promise. His coming out party started last season in St. Louis, where his first 3 catches equaled touchdowns against the Rams. Smith hasn’t looked back and has easily become one of Joe Flacco’s favorite targets. But this time last year, Smith had no idea where he would end up. His story on how it all unfolded is an interesting one.
In addition to excelling on the football field, Smith has been a great contributor off the field as well. He’s coming off a successful charity basketball game in which he paired up with Washington Redskins WR Anthony Armstrong in order to raise money for his foundation to buy school supplies as well as start a mentoring program.
Much thanks to #82 for the interview.
What mental approach did you take once you realized you’d be preparing for the draft?
I took the opposite approach of what other people do. It’s all about trying to get to the league, and that was the furthest thing from my mind. I was trying to get my degree, and whatever happens, happens (Smith received his degree in Criminal Justice). At the end of my sophomore year, [former Maryland head coach Ralph]Friedgen was like, “You know you have a great shot of being a top pick in the draft next year, and everything’s lined up. You’re gonna graduate so you can go out here and focus and see what happens.” I did that, and I was able to get drafted.
How did you spend your day, waiting for your name to be called?
I didn’t go to NY because I have 6 bro/sis and the limit you had was about 8. I wanted to be in a more comfortable setting, especially in the situation I was in because I could have gone as early as the 1st round. So not knowing I was a 1st round lock, I didn’t want to go to NY. But I was confident that I was going to be drafted on the 2nd day, especially after the night was over. I was gonna [celebrate] at home, but too many people kept popping up my house, so I ended up doing it at this Firehouse out in the country. I was out in the country relaxing. We had some good food, everybody was just relaxing and watching the draft.
Do you remember the person you spoke with and the conversation you had with him during the selection?
I remember I was hoping I’d keep sliding and that the Ravens would pick me because there were a few teams in between that could have taken a WR, and I was just saying please don’t pick me (laughs). About a pick out, it was actually before the Lions pick, I saw the [Baltimore area code] 410 number pop up [in my phone], and of course I’m familiar with the area codes around here. I picked it up, and it was Ozzie Newsome on the phone. We were talking casually, and he said jokingly, “Let us know if your phone rings,” because there was a trade going on. He said, “If the phone rings, don’t click over” (laughs). And then the Lions came in to pick. And we all knew that the Lions had already drafted Titus Young, so they probably wouldn’t pick a receiver. And I remember [Newsome] talking to me, “Alright son. You’re a Raven.” This was in the middle of the Lions pick. I was just stuck, I couldn’t move, I was shocked. Just crying and all that good stuff.
Any advice to give to the rookies making their way into the NFL?
Well I left school early, but I graduated [in 3.5 years], so I was saying the worst case scenario if I don’t get drafted, I can work. You gotta prepare for the worst and expect the best. You always want what’s best, but you have to be prepared for the worst. No one knows what’s gonna happen on Draft Day. I would say don’t get caught up in the hype from the media because there’s [32 people] that can go in the 1st round; it all depends on how those dominoes fall. It’s not about how you start; it’s how you finish. Be ready to go out there and persevere.