Combine Snub Only Adds Fuel to Smith's Fire

Brian Losness - USA Today Sports

Wyoming's unassuming record-setting quarterback, Brett Smith, spent the past two summers at the renowned Manning Passing Academy and has been working with Jordan Palmer to improve mechanics. The gifted quarterback talked to Packer Report about his path to the draft.

Brett Smith — future NFL quarterback — was back in his hometown of West Salem, Ore., to watch his brother compete in a high school track and field meet.

That made Smith something of a celebrity, right?

"No, I wouldn't say that," Smith said after a long laugh.

Smith was the Gatorade State Player of the Year following his senior season at West Salem. Somehow, he was deemed not good enough to be offered a scholarship by Oregon or Oregon State.

"I was definitely disappointed about it because those were my dream schools," he told Packer Report last week. "I would have loved to have gone to either one and be the hometown kid who goes to the home-state school. But, that didn't happen. Tom Brady said it the best in ‘The Brady 6.' It's not really a chip on your shoulder. It's just a feeling that nobody wants you, and that really, really made me angry. It put it in my mind that, ‘I could care less where I go now. I just want to go to a school and prove that I can do it.'"

Mission accomplished.

Smith landed at Wyoming. In 35 starts encompassing three seasons, Smith threw for 8,834 yards. He tossed 76 touchdown passes — ran for 20 more — and just 28 interceptions. Even while leaving school a year early, Smith ranks fourth in Mountain West Conference history in touchdown passes and set a conference record by either throwing or rushing for a touchdown in every game of his career.

Still, Smith somehow was deemed not good enough to be offered an invitation to the Scouting Combine.

It was as if the scab of being slighted by Oregon and Oregon State had been ripped open.

"It's funny you said that," Smith said. "I was talking to my dad about that. When I didn't receive the Combine invitation, it was kind of like going back to the old high school days. I used all that fuel for pro day instead of just working toward the Combine."

Beyond his athleticism — he ran a stunning 4.51 at pro day — the focus was on his quarterbacking mechanics. He admittedly got out of whack last season, and has spent the offseason working mostly with Jordan Palmer and also Jeff Garcia.

"Toward the end of the year, my mechanics got poor," Smith said. "I started to become exposed to the kind of offense we were running. I was told to get the ball out as fast as I could and throw a lot of east/west throws. A lot of the concepts we were running were 3-, 4-, 5-yard routes where I was told to throw the ball to our receivers as quick as I could. It definitely translated to the film. You could see where my feet were kind of messed up and I was kind of throwing it like a baseball player. I wanted to show them that I could throw with good mechanics and I'm coming over the top again (with his throwing motion) and I could go under center as well as the gun. And I incorporated some play-action in there, as well, and some concepts that we didn't run at Wyoming with the spread offense. I wanted to showcase the talent to throw universal concepts that the NFL will have."

Not only has Smith worked with Palmer and Garcia, but for the last two summers he worked at the prestigious Manning Passing Academy. It was a chance for Smith to help teach the quarterback stars of the future but pick the brains of Archie Manning and his famous sons Peyton, Eli and Cooper. Of particular interest to Smith was how the Mannings study film — especially the beginning stages of that process.

Smith is a quarterback junkie. He calls Peyton Manning "one of the greatest of all time," says Drew Brees "mechanically, he's one of the best," and Aaron Rodgers "is probably my favorite to watch just because of his ability to improvise and the way that he takes command of the offense every week."

In about three weeks, Smith will join them in the NFL. What will that moment be like when his phone rings and it's his new employer?

"I sure hope it rings," said Smith, ignoring projections that he'll be selected in the fifth or sixth round. "I was talking to (Washington quarterback) Keith Price about that when we were in California driving to a workout. I can't really explain it. You dream about it since you were a little kid. All it takes is impressing one team and I really hope so. For me, the work — that's just the first step. I've got to make the team afterward so I won't be able to celebrate it for too long."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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