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2022 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Naeem Smith, DB, Rice University

Naeem Smith Rice
Naeem Smith the hard hitting safety from Rice University recently sat down with Justin Berendzen of NFL Draft Diamonds
  • Name: Naeem Smith
  • Position: DB
  • College: Rice University
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 190 lbs.
  • Twitter: @naeemsmith_

What sets you apart from other defensive backs?

What sets me apart is my versatility in the secondary. I had to play all three safety positions in our defense, due to injuries or the coaches just needing to move me around because I understood the defensive scheme. 

What type of energy do you bring onto the football field?

I bring a competitive edge. I love to compete and play with passion for the game. I normally am not going to talk a whole lot, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not an intense player on the field. 

If you could hang out with any football player past or present for a day who and why?

Tyrann Mathieu, because I watch his highlights every day. I can tell he’s also a great person by how much he gives back and cares for other people. 

How are you planning to prepare for the draft?

A lot of training from speed/explosive work, lifting, DB drills, etc. I will be primarily training at Rice. And then will have outside training to supplement it. 

What are your favorite moments from your football life?

Hard to name, because I had a lot of great memories from Juco football at Ellsworth Community College and Rice but the brothers I have meet along the way is for sure one. The one play that I won’t forget is the pick 6 vs. Marshall in 2020. 

What do you love about the game of football?

I love the aspect that you grow close to a group of guys through training and practice, hanging out, etc. just for so many limited opportunities. You must come together as a group of guys and it’s the ultimate team sport. You have to play with passion and hunger to be great. 

What should we know about Naeem Smith the person?

Determined person to be great not only in football but also in life in general. 

What is your favorite coverage and why?

I would say man to man, because at Rice we ran it a lot. We had creative pressures off it, and you know as a defensive back its 1 on 1 vs. the receiver. 

How do you handle challenges both in life and on the football field?

If I am going through challenges, what I do is just evaluate the situation and put a plan in place on how I can either grow or improve from the situation depending on what it is. I always stay positive and optimistic though because you have too. Can’t be stuck in the past especially as a DB.   

What would a team get in a player like you?

Someone who won’t be out worked and that will always be on time. I want to win, so I am not afraid to put in the extra work.  

What do you think are the keys to success on the football field?

Alignment- knowing where to line up and landmarks, assignment- knowing what you are supposed to do, technique- knowing what technique to use during the play, and communication because our coaches say its free. 

What are you looking to achieve as a football player going forward?

I want to play in the NFL. It starts with taking every day and treating it like you’re a pro from watching what you do, training, sleep, etc. I want to have an eye-popping pro day by running a great 40-yard dash and being smooth in the drills. I think that will give me a great shot to achieve what I want going forward. 

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