time2rock Posted May 6, 2021 Share Posted May 6, 2021 Eagles’ DeVonta Smith tries to tune out the small talk, but ‘it eats him up inside’ Updated May 03, 2021; Posted May 03, 2021 Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (right) works out with trainer Robby Green (left) in New Orleans. By Mike Kaye | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com It’s Tuesday, just two days before the Eagles will trade up with the Dallas Cowboys to land Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith with the 10th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Former Pro Bowl wide-receiver-turned-NFL-analyst Steve Smith Sr., no relation, is on the "Rich Eisen Show,” expressing concerns about the undersized player. Steve Smith, who was known for being tiny but tough during his playing days, is harping on DeVonta Smith’s frame. Like many analysts, he doubts DeVonta Smith can make the jump to the NFL and have the same impact he did in college. "When I look at his stature, and I look at him, I look at his glutes down to his (calves and ankles), there ain’t a lot of meat back there,” Smith said. "It’s not thick. He’s fast, but what’s going to happen when he’s going up against a Jalen Ramsey, 6-foot-2, 200-and-something pounds? "If you’re 166 pounds and a dude is 215, benching 225 (pounds) 25 times, and he hits you one good time, and your short, little shoulder pads come unbuckled because the only thing that holds it up is sweat, that’s going to wear on you.” Steve Smith, by the way, was listed as 5-foot-9 and 195 pounds during his playing career. He was no Harold Carmichael. DeVonta Smith enters the NFL at 6 feet, 166 pounds, and his build didn’t matter to the Eagles, who made the deal with a division rival to land him. Smith, 22, shrugs off the loud noise about his lanky frame. "I don’t care too much about what people say about my weight,” DeVonta Smith said Thursday. "I understand reporters have a job. It’s their job to make a story. I just let them do their job. I can’t get mad at them for doing their job.” Those close to him tell NJ Advance Media that the naysayers are only fueling his competitive fire. Robby Green has been DeVonta Smith’s trainer since the wideout was a high school sophomore, and he says Smith’s drop in the draft — he was the third wide receiver taken overall — and the constant harping on his frame will motivate him to be great. "To him, that’s a slap in the face,” Green said. "I know him and his personality, and I know how it eats him up inside.” Smith was the most dominant wide receiver in college football this past season. He caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns as he became the first receiver since Desmond Howard in 1991 to win the Heisman Trophy. That still wasn’t good enough for the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins, who selected other wide receivers in front of the Eagles. "Honestly, I’m happy it went that way,” Green said. "It’ll just keep creating that killer instinct in him. The universe keeps creating ways for him to stay motivated.” The Eagles, Green insists, are getting a receiver who wants to silence his critics and leave a wake of broken defenses in his path. And even though Eagles history includes the names of Carmichael, DeSean Jackson, Terrell Owens and Mike Quick, Green warns: "Philly hasn’t seen anything like DeVonta Smith.” Smith’s pursuit of perfection dates back to the eighth grade. The Amite, La., native was awkwardly built with long arms, big hands and large feet, but a small, slender frame. He knew if he wanted to succeed as a wide receiver, he was going to need to become a technician. Smith’s lifelong mentor, Vincent Sanders, a former all-conference offensive lineman at Tuskegee University, put his teenage pupil to work, focusing on the little things, as they trained together on hot summer days. "He had to learn how to run routes to get open,” Sanders said. By the time he got to high school, Smith was a standout track athlete and basketball player — a kid who dreamed of being the next Rajon Rondo — and he used those skills, along with an attention to detail, to become a monster on the football field. Zephaniah Powell, Smith’s football and track coach at Amite High School, said he was blown away by Smith’s approach as a teenager. "He’s a professional,” Powell said. "He was a professional even when he was in high school. It translated when he went to the University of Alabama. And it should translate (in the NFL).” Smith, according to those who know him best, is naturally introverted. He’s not someone you’ll notice in a crowded room. He often flies under the radar. But that changes after the opening kickoff. "When I’m on the field, I’m just a different person,” Smith told the Eagles Insider. Says Powell: "He’s so quiet off the field, but he’s electric on the field.” Thanks to his hard work, the stars aligned for him: Smith became an excellent route-runner just as he hit a growth spurt and improved his overall speed. At one point, Smith was so difficult to defend in high school scrimmages that opposing teams would put three defensive backs on him. According to Sanders, the triple coverage didn’t work. "You’ve got a dude that’s a precise route-runner, that’s going to run a 4.3, 4.35 in the (40-yard dash),” Sanders said. "So, once he gets in front of you, you’re done. He can contort his body, and that’s why no one jams him at the line. He perfected that because he was a small kid.” While Smith’s size made headlines leading up the draft, the Eagles marveled at the strength they saw on film. Sanders says strength is the most underrated aspect of Smith’s game. "DeVonta Smith is strong as hell,” Sanders said. "He’s learned how to be stronger, faster. ... He’s a perfect weapon. You put all of (his intangibles) together,” Sanders said, "and then you get the ‘Slim Reaper.’” Smith had just caught Alabama’s walk-off, game-winning touchdown pass in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game against the Georgia Bulldogs, but all the freshman could think about was a first-quarter miscue. Smith missed a block early in the game, and that error hung with him as his teammates celebrated their biggest win of the campaign. He was an overnight star and a Crimson Tide hero, but that wasn’t enough for him. As he returned to the team hotel, he was greeted by Sanders, who was ready to celebrate. That moment didn’t last too long, as Smith lamented his lone blunder on the biggest stage. "That’s his mentality,” Sanders said. "He’s such a perfectionist that even in the height of that celebration, he was thinking about, ‘I missed a block.’ In his mind, he’s like ‘If I could have made that block, we would have scored on that play.’ He’s always critiquing himself.” Smith’s desire to be great will serve him well in Philadelphia, as he, like his new fan base, is seeking more championships and banners. That’s what’s motivated Smith his entire life, and that’s why he was a top 10 pick in a loaded draft class. "He just wants to be great,” Sanders said. "The reason he wants to be great is that he doesn’t want to let anybody down. He doesn’t want to let his team down.” Green, Smith’s New Orleans-based trainer, has worked with the likes of Justin Jefferson, Derrick Henry and Ja’Marr Chase over the years. The former Alabama safety was Heisman Trophy-winner Mark Ingram Jr.’s college roommate, and Green worked with Henry on his way to the same award. After working with Green, Smith followed in the footsteps of Henry and Ingram. Despite Green’s high-profile portfolio of notable clients, the owner of Dynamic Performance Training says Smith sticks out from the rest. "I haven’t had a guy that I’ve trained with that’s like DeVonta Smith,” Green said. "I correct every movement, every flaw. Every time you do a drill with me or a workout with me, I’m constantly on you, trying to find a flaw. Sometimes, DeVonta is flawless … but he’ll stop in the middle of the drill and restart it.” Last summer, while most college and NFL facilities were shut down due to COVID-19, Smith, Jefferson and Chase spent time working out with Green. While Jefferson had just been selected in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings — much to the collective groan of Eagles fans — Chase was preparing for this year’s draft, and Smith was focused on his eventual award-winning final season at Alabama. "Those guys are all extremely competitive,” Green said. "The great thing is they’re all from the same area, so it was cool and interesting to see those guys come together and work together. They got it to where it was competitive but fun and it was unique because they could pull different things from each other. They gained things to make each other better.” Green often preaches the importance of having a mission, a vision and a purpose to his clients. The trainer calls it an "MVP” mindset, and it’s something that Smith — along with Jefferson and Chase — has adopted. Green says Smith’s vision was to get to the NFL, and his mission was to be a first-round pick. Now, Smith’s purpose is to show he can be the best receiver, not only in his draft class, but the entire league. "He didn’t just want to make it,” Green said. "DeVonta is a kid that wants to be on top.” https://www.nj.com/eagles/2021/05/eagles-devonta-smith-tries-to-tune-out-the-small-talk-but-it-eats-him-up-inside.html 2 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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