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2020 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Eli Smith, OT, Kanas Wesleyan University

  • Name: Eli Smith
  • Height: 6’7″ 
  • Weight: 305
  • Position: Offensive Tackle
  • College: Kansas Wesleyan University
  • Twitter: @EliSmith55

Tell us about your hometown, and what you love most about it?

I grew up in Severy, Kansas, an incredibly small town about an hour from the nearest city. What I loved most about it was the family, friend, and community support I received. It was a blessing to grow up around a huge family and community who strive to be involved with one another.

List these three in order of importance and why: Film Study, Strength and Conditioning and Practice?

Practice first. No doubt. The repetition at practice allows you to adjust and perfect your skills accordingly. However, if you are unaware of the mistakes you make, you can’t correct them. That’s why film study would be the second most important in my opinion. Film helps you identify the points of emphasis to focus on for the next practice, creating truly efficient practices. Lastly, although still vitally important, is strength and conditioning. Commitment in strength and conditioning undoubtedly helps one reach their potential on the field.

What do you worry about, and why?

I worry about leaving a positive impact on those around me. Life is too short for judgment and constant negativity.

Give me an example of when you failed at something. How did you react and how did you overcome failure?

I gave up a sack early in my career that cost our quarterback a couple games out of his senior year. Shortening someone else’s career because of my mistake was tough to bear at first, but I approached the failure to improve. I identified the failure not just as a weakness, but as an opportunity to become a better player. I analyzed the film and consulted my coach on what I could have done better in order to prepare for similar situations in the future.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?

Humility. Many teammates know that I wanted to and was capable of playing tight end or defensive line. These positions were what I originally wanted to play, however I instead chose offensive line for the sake of the team, as there was not much depth in those positions when I first joined.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?

If teammates count, Shaq Bradford by a landslide. If you’re looking for an opponent, then Timmy Hamilton, a former defensive end from Friends University. I believe he transferred out of KU if I’m not mistaken. Both guys are incredibly fast, know how to use their strength, and have an arsenal of moves at their disposal.

What would your career be if you couldn’t play football? 

I’d start my career as an accountant, earn my CPA, open my own tax-firm, then become a real-estate investor as time and money allowed me to. Then I’d do real-estate investing full time when that became possible.

Room, desk, and car – which do you clean first?

Desk. Clear desk = Clear mind

If there was a disaster and you could either save three strangers or one family member, which would you choose and why?

I’d save the family member. They are closer to me, so instinctively I’d look to save them first. But I’d try my hardest to save the other three as well.

If you could be any television or movie character, who would you be and why?

Ironman, and it’s not even close. It’d be incredible to have that kind of brainpower. Also watching the character develop into a more selfless being is something I strive to achieve more and more.

Tell me about your biggest adversity in life and how you’ve dealt with or overcome it?

My biggest adversity was self-doubt. I overcame it through self-education and a powerful support system, realizing that I can accomplish a lot in life regardless of the path I take, and that I have the tools in me to be successful, I just have to believe in myself.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

My most embarrassing moment, looking back on it, was constantly using the excuse, “I’m too tall to gain weight. I can’t gain weight, it’s not in my genetics.” I now realize it was simply the lack of discipline, creating systems and plans, and being consistent, which is pretty shameful to admit.

What was the most memorable play of your collegiate career?

I don’t have a particular play in mind, but our offense’s scoring drive to take the lead against Langston University is something I won’t soon forget. I could feel the energy in the stadium and there was no doubt we were scoring on that drive. It was an incredible feeling.

What song best describes your work ethic?

The Mountain by Three Days Grace

What is the most important trait you can have (Physical or Non-Physical) to help you succeed at the next level? 

Staying consistent with the desire to be better than you were the day before.

If you could bring one person back from the dead for one day, who would it be and why?

I’d love to bring back my grandfather for a day. He passed before I met my wife, and I know they’d love each other’s personalities. I’d also love to play one more game of Farkle with him. It was almost tradition to play Farkle whenever we visited him, and that’d be a game I’d never forget filled with people closest to me.

If you were to open a dance club, what would you name it? 

Studio 55 (That’s my number)

Who is the most underrated player in the NFL? 

Quenton Nelson

Would you rather be liked or respected, and why?

I’d rather be respected. The way I see it, being respected means people see me as a strongminded person and know exactly what to expect from me, whether they like it or not.

What player who had his career derailed by off-field issues do you feel for the most and why?

Pat Tillman. While it wasn’t personal issues that derailed his career, issues with the world, more specifically the 9/11 tragedy, called him to enlist in the Army, where he made the ultimate sacrifice. Considering he traded an exciting and rewarding opportunity in the NFL for the sake of his country and its citizens is something I have an insurmountable amount of respect for.

Do you love to win, or hate to lose?

I hate losing. Winning is fun no doubt, but the pain of a loss is far greater.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life and explain why?

My father has been a huge influence in my life, pushing me to try and reach my full potential. He’s been one of my biggest critics and best supporters, frequently encouraging me and calling me out to reach beyond my comfort zone, and building me up when there were times I doubted myself. 

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NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at nfldraftdiamonds@gmail.com

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