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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Daniel Smith, QB, Villanova University

Villanova signal caller Daniel Smith recently sat down with Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
  • Name: Daniel Smith
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 205 lbs
  • Position: QB
  • College: Villanova University
  • Twitter: @dballin4

Daniel Smith is an exceptional athlete that was responsible for a total of 48 TDs in 2019 (35 through the air, 11 rushing TDs and 1 receiving TD). Smith proved to be a very effective QB in 2019 passing for 3274 yards with 60% completion percentage. He is poised to lead the Wildcats back to the playoffs once again for the 2020 season.

Tell us about your university/college. What was your major/minor? How is campus life?

I had a very interesting path to Villanova, but I wouldn’t trade my college experience for anything. I started at Campbell University, where I committed to play football out of high school.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?

I think my teammates would say my best quality is my competitiveness. I am a very competitive person underneath my laid back exterior, and my teammates see it when I’m out at practice, in the weight room, or on the field for game days.

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?

I am a QB who characteristically takes care of the football, distributes it to my teammates well, and leads by example. I can extend plays with my legs, drive the ball down the field from the pocket, and throw short and intermediate routes well.

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

John Daka of JMU. When we were gameplanning for that game, I noticed how disruptive he was off the ball on film. But in person he is easily the quickest defender I’ve ever seen come off the football, and definitely causes a lot of disruption in the backfield.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?

There are two people that impress me the most and for different reasons. The first is our defensive captain Forrest Rhyne. He was my roommate the past year and after being around him for even just a little bit, you can tell he’s able to get the best out of people and won’t let anyone outwork him. My other teammate that I’m most impressed by is Justin Covington, our offensive captain. Although he is a very gifted running back and works hard to be the best he can be, I’m most impressed by his ability to balance being a team captain and leader, as well as be a top student in the nursing program at Villanova. Both of them have inspired me to give more effort and to be a better person everyday.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.

Coming out of high school I was far from being a “highly recruited” football player. I had an offer from Campbell University and I took that as I felt that was the best opportunity for me to get a chance to compete. After having a pretty good career at Campbell I decided to enter into the transfer portal, with no guarantees of finding a new home for next fall. Again, I was not very highly recruited, as I only received a couple offers, but I got one from Villanova, who was my top school of choice after doing some research on places to go. This past fall at Villanova we had a very good year and made the playoffs, which was my first time doing so at the collegiate level. Throughout this whole process I overcame people telling me I wasn’t big enough, or I was just a runner who played QB, and I’ve put myself in a position to be a part of a team that expects to have a special year.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?

Growing up I played all kinds of sports, but basketball and baseball were the two that I played the most, although I stopped playing baseball after middle school. If it weren’t for football, I would most definitely be playing basketball, as it was my first love in sport before football came around.

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?

Going to Campbell out of high school they did not give football scholarships, as they were still members of the Pioneer Football League, and all they could offer was a spot on the roster. Once they moved to the Big South Conference for football, they were able to give out scholarships, and after my redshirt freshman year fall I earned a full scholarship, in which I was very proud of myself for earning by proving I deserved it.

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.

My redshirt freshman year at Campbell University we travelled to Davidson, NC to take on the Wildcats down there. This whole game was very memorable, as it felt to be my “breakout game” running the football, having ran for almost 290 yards that game. Though, one run was especially memorable. I had an 80 yard touchdown run where we ran an inside zone read option and the defensive end crashed down to take the ball carrier, leaving me one on one with the safety. I made one move on the safety and took off down the sideline thinking, “please don’t get caught” the whole time.

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?

Growing up I’ve always been a Redskins fan. Sadly, it’s been a rough few years recently. Though, my favorite quarterback to model my game after is Drew Brees. He gets the ball out of his hands so quickly and is so accurate with the football. I am also a fan of the ability that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning had to diagnose a defense and get the ball out of their hands quickly. 

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Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?

My favorite music artist is Brantley Gilbert, as I love that kind of rock-country genre that he falls under. I grew up listening to country music so that’s most of what I listen to, and on game days it’s no different. I have a playlist of country songs that I listen to before every game in the same order, starting at the same amount of time before kickoff starts. The one country song that is not on the playlist is the finale, and it’s “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins, a tradition that goes all the way back to my high school football pregames.

What is your favorite comfort food?

My mom has a lasagna recipe that is so good. Very beefy and very cheesy, I’d say it’s easily my favorite “comfort food”. 

Do you have a favorite movie or actor?

I love Keanu Reeves, and I have loved him since he starred in one of my favorite movies, “Hardball.” As of recently, me and my father are big John Wick fans, so my love for Keanu Reeves as an actor continues.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?

I have a few hobbies that I enjoy in my free time, including playing guitar, video games, and going hiking with friends.

Who or what motivates you the most?

Since I was young I’ve wanted to be a professional athlete, and I’ve had a lot of people throughout my life tell me that the chances are slim and not in my favor. That drives me to work harder and improve my game so that I can be the best football player I can be. I also hope to one day take care of my parents, through football, the way they’ve taken care of me for so many years.

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