2 Minute Drill with Luke Smith-Anderson

The Coeur d'Alene native first hit the Idaho campus in the fall of 2001 and played immediately as a true freshman, making his TE debut at Husky Stadium against Washington. Since then LUKE SMITH-ANDERSON has sustained three season ending injuries, had one fantastic season (2004), and has remained the team's top tightend througout. The same holds true this year for the 6-5, 260 pound junior.

Luke Smith-Anderson has seemingly taken it all in stride. Despite the varied injuries and the thoughts of hanging up the cleats (as many would have done in his situation), Luke has kept the dream alive.

Despite two knee injuries and a ruptured spleen, he has battled back and each time appears to actually be in better physical condition than before. When he's been healthy, he's been entrenched at the top of the Vandal tightend depth chart. Always. No questions asked.

In '04 Luke led the team with 4 TDs, including a longest reception of 44 yards.
He's the complete package; outstanding blocker, good hands, good routes, good wheels for a man that goes 6-5, 255 pounds...and tough. And disciplined.

He takes the jabs in stride about his age...and the fact that he's a junior in playing status (awarded two medical redshirt years by the NCAA this offseason) and going for an advanced degree. It's given him more focus...more resolve.

He's truly seen it all at Idaho. He was recruited by Tom Cable, had his offense completely shift with the arrival of Nick Holt and his staff in 2004, and this year finds himself not only playing for a legend in Dennis Erickson, but led by an offensive coordinator in Dan Cozzetto who has had a remarkable coaching career (most notably as the offensive coordinator at Arizona State for seven years), and his position coach is one of the few carry-overs from the previous offensive staff, Jason Eck, who took over tightends and recruiting coordinator duties this winter.

He's gone from practicing on a shredded, poorly maintained practice field and working out in a dimly lit dungeon of a weightroom, to one of the premier weightrooms in the West, SprinTurf practice fields complete with protective fence and lights, and a brand new locker room to boot.

Not to mention having been there when Idaho went from the Sun Belt and wondering about its future, to the Western Athletic Conference and looking forward to where the future might take Idaho.

He's literally seen, and experienced, it all.

This week, as he prepares for Idaho's season opener at Michigan State, VV.com's Gaylen Wood caught up with Idaho's starting tightend to discuss his expectations for himself and the team this fall.

Luke leads a TE rotation with significant starting and playing experience, and includes Keith Greer, Eddie Williams, and Rick Harrison.
VV: Over the years here you've battled injuries, and through it all you've been at the top of Idaho's tight end depth chart. What are your expectations are for yourself, and for the Idaho offense, this fall.

LSA: Well, my expectation for myself is to play to the best of my ability and stay healthy all season. I want to be an impact player on our offense, whether we're running right behind me, right off of me, or we're passing the ball on like third down or in the red zone...pretty much any time. I want to be an impact player. For our offense, I expect us to execute, and I expect us to be the best offense we've had here since I've been here.

VV: Can you compare the offense as it's drawn up this year to what you've had in the past?

LSA: Well, there are some familiar things. This is the third offense that I've had to learn since I've been here; every offense is similar, and there are just small differences. I would say this offense is pretty much a combination of them all. Coach Erickson runs a complicated NFL offense; so we run a lot of different formations. We're not just strictly single back here. We run spread, we run doubles, we run I-formation, we run...we run a lot of different formations; so I would say this is the most detailed offense that we've had since I've been here.

VV: You've seen it all in your lengthy career at Idaho as we were talking about. What, if anything, is different about this year's Vandal team?

LSA: Well, I would say there are a lot of differences. We have a lot more skill in every single aspect of the ball. We have a lot better skill in our student athletes. We have depth this year; we've been struggling with depth the last few years since I've been here. We have...professional coaches, which makes a huge difference; to have a coach that knows what he's doing whether it's your position coach or your head coach. It's nice to have a coach that's proven and that knows what he's doing. He's going to go into the game with confidence, and that makes the players have confidence. The coach has confidence, and the players have confidence in the coach.

VV: How do you compare the speed this year with the years that you've seen here in the past?

LSA: I think we have a lot more speed. I think we have a lot more speed in the running back position…we've got a few new players, and we have a lot more speed in our wide receivers mostly. We have DeAngelo (Ramsey). He's going to be really good for us. Wendell (Octave) is returning. He's always been good for us. We have Matt Askew, who's going to be good, and we have a couple of new JC guys that look pretty good. Hopefully they can prove themselves in some games. Our defense is a lot faster also. We have much faster linebackers.

VV: What do you think, personally, is the strength is of your game. In other words, what do you do best for the Idaho offense?

LSA: I like to pride myself on my blocking technique and footwork and stuff like that. I like to be the guy that we run behind on the goal line. I like to be at the point of attack all the time. I've really been working on my routes, and I want to try to become a better receiver. I think that I've done that through this fall camp and spring ball. Really...getting faster. I dropped my 40 a tenth of a second from spring ball; so I'm feeling a lot faster. I dropped some weight since fall camp. I was 270 last fall camp when I ruptured my spleen, and now I'm about 250; so I'm feeling a lot faster, a lot more mobile; so I pride myself on that also.

VV: I saw that you've already finished your undergrad work and you're applying for grad school. What do you have in mind? What are you applying for? What would you like to major in and get a master's in?

LSA: Well, I would like the master's in sports and recreation. I graduated with a bachelor of science in advertising, and I think that I want to always stay in sports no matter what I'm doing; so if I get a master's degree in sports and recreation then that would pretty much secure the fact that I was going be involved in sports, whether it be sports and recreation or advertising; so it's a win-win either way.

VV: One last question. It's kind of a fun one. Who is your favorite band or musician or singer?

LSA: (Laughing) My favorite band or musician or singer? I would say my favorite (pauses)…Wow. Man. That's such a hard one. I would say Tom Petty. You've gotta go with him. He's good, you know? It's fun to put him on after practice and just kind of cool down. Before practice I would say Drowning Pool...gets you pumped up and getting you ready to go.

VV: Great. Thanks, Luke. We appreciate your time. Good luck Saturday.

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