Garrison Smith hasn’t spent the last two months wallowing with a gallon of ice cream in his lap.
No, he wasn’t invited to the NFL combine in February.
Yes, he’s a bit bitter about that.
But as the former Georgia defensive lineman said: “I can’t feel sorry for myself. I got to make something happen. That’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. You can’t sit in your room and eat ice cream, so I went to work.”
Smith, who played in both the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses at Georgia, recorded 63 tackles, 10 for loss and six sacks in 2013. He started in all 13 games for the Bulldogs and moved to nose tackle.
The Atlanta native said he felt like he and some of his fellow Bulldogs were stiffed by the NFL combine.
“That’s the biggest injustice I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen anything like that happen before. Me personally, I feel like I had one of the best seasons as a D-tackle in the country,” he said. “… You put up them type of numbers as a D-tackle in a 3-4 defense and you don’t get invited to the combine? Wow, that’s amazing.”
But Smith, who is always good for a witty soundbite, said he is confident in his game tape, something he said he’s talked to a handful of NFL teams about. There were 23 at Georgia’s Pro Day last week and Smith said he spoke with a representative from Carolina, Jacksonville, San Diego and San Francisco, among others.
“If you watch that film, you’ll see I’m a good player,” he said. “I’m an underrated player. I don’t get much love from the ESPN reporters. I don’t get much love from nobody, but people that know football know I can play. That’s what I’m happy about.”
Smith said he values his game tape more than his ability to perform drills in shorts and a T-shirt with a stopwatch in the hand of a nearby coach or scout.
“I feel like anybody can look good in shorts and T-shirts,” he said. “It’s a lot of T-shirt all-Americans out here. It’s a lot of guys that can look good running the 40, look good doing drills, but when you put them pads on, they don’t look that good. … I’m not a T-shirt all-American. I’m backing it up with them pads on. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.”
Smith, who suffered an ankle injury during Georgia’s game against Georgia Tech in late November that caused him to gain some weight while he recovered, said he has trimmed down to 294 pounds, down five pounds from his weight at the start of the 2013 season. He said he’s been working on his quickness and agility as he trains with Georgia’s strength and conditioning staff in preparation for the NFL draft, which is May 8.
“I can look good in T-shirts,” Smith quipped after Pro Day. “I can look good in a birthday suit, it don’t matter. But when them pads get on, it gets real serious. In them trenches, ask about me down there. I got a lot of respect down there.”
The Douglass High product ran a 5.23-second 40-yard dash, recorded a 8-foot, 2-inch broad jump, a 24-inch vertical leap and bench pressed 220 pounds 23 times at Georgia’s Pro Day. Smith said he hopes his ability to play at any position along the defensive line helps him catch the eye of scouts. But it’s his heart, he said, that separates him.
“I performed, I did good (at Pro Day)and somebody out there’ll see me,” he said. “I can’t worry about nothing else. I’m just putting it in God’s hands. You can’t teach heart. I got that heart. I was born with that, man.”
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