One-on-One with Trent Smith

Oklahoma's senior all-american tight end talks about his final season and being a Sooner

Trent Smith goes into his senior year rated as the top tight end in the country. A three-year starter at Oklahoma, Smith is the favorite to the win the John Mackey Award, which is awarded to the top tight end in the country at the end of every season.

Smith has developed into a team leader on the Sooner squad and is working harder than ever in Jerry Schmidt's strength and conditioning program. After one of the teams many morning skelly drills, Smith sat down with and talked about summer workouts and his hopes for the 2002 season.

JH: When you came out of Clinton you were ranked as the top tight end in the country. Do you find it ironic that you are now rated the top tight end in college football?

TS: It's getting close to that point in the year where I will have to stop reading about myself, the team, college football and just concentrate on what we need to concentrate on. I guess you could say it is time to get focused on the business of winning a National Championship. I am going to take a page out of Roy Williams book and put all that stuff up and not look at it again until next July. Roy shut everything off and let whatever happen for him happen, and it worked out pretty well for him.

JH: But Trent, Roy didn't even like college football. Sure he liked to play it, but he didn't like it. He didn't care what any of the other teams or players were doing, while you are a college football fan and are totally different than Roy. Can you totally copy his actions from a year ago?

TS: I know a few of the players and teams, so I would say I am more of a college football fan than Roy is, but his ability to focus was tremendous. I got caught up in my press clippings my first year and in my first few games that didn't workout for me. My senior year at Clinton, I didn't play up to my potential or standards and I think part of the reason why was because I paid to much attention to what people were saying about me. I am going to try to learn from my mistakes and listen to what Roy told me and just play football. Believe me all the publicity and kind words are flattering, but that doesn't let me keep my game on the edge where it needs to be.

JH: How are the summer workouts going and how has Jerry Schmidt and his staff improved your ability?

TS: We show up and get after it that is for sure. At this point we are just lifting and running, and that is about it in the summer. You really can't say enough about what Coach Schmidt has done for our program. Everyday, everybody wants to know what kind of program Coach Schmidt has for us each day. It's a real nerve-racking experience, until to find out what you have to do and sometimes when you do find out you wish that you never found out what you were going to do. His workouts not only prepare us for the physical, but for the mental as well. I think I have been in shape for three years now and there really isn't much more they can do to get us in better shape. It's just a matter of how much bigger, faster or stronger they can get us and how much tougher mentally they can get us. I would say that after last season they can get us tougher, mentally.

JH: When you take the field this team plays with so much confidence that it seems that you totally believe that you are in the best possible condition you can be in?

TS: Yes, I know if I am getting tired out on the field, then those other guys have to be ten times more tired than I am. Our conditioning gives us an added benefit of confidence that maybe a lot of other teams don't get to experience.

JH: Give us an idea what a day in the life of a "Big Time" college football player is like?

TS: This morning I got a phone call about five minutes before my alarm went off at about 6:25 (am) from you, reminding me that I had an interview with you (laughs). I got to get up five minutes early today at 6:25 AM. We then go out at 7:00 to get into our skelly drills. The wide receivers and defensive backs hold our own passing skeleton in the mornings. We get there about 6:50 to warm up and get going at 7:00 AM sharp. After that workout I have class at 8:10 and then another class from 10:30 to 11:30. For lunch, I try to grab a little bit of food if I can, but not too much because my weight workout starts at 1:00 o'clock. That stuff tastes a lot better going down than it does coming up. I try to eat two to three hours before my workout. I work in the weight room until 3:00 in the afternoon. After that I usually catch balls with Jason (White) and Nate (Hybl). I try to get some one-on-one time with (Andre) Woolfolk if he is still around and then I will go jump into the common swimming pool to rinse off, go home to take a shower and then relax by playing the guitar or whatever.

JH: So you put in a solid eight to ten hour day centered about being a student/athlete even in the summer?

TS: Yes I do, and to be perfectly honest with you I use to dread it. I really didn't realize back then that doing those things could really be fun. When you first get to OU you forget about the fact of how lucky of an individual you really are to be playing football and to have the opportunity to workout and go to school at OU. I remember when I first got here that they were building all the Switzer stuff and they were tearing down everything. Now the landscape of the whole football facility has totally changed physically.

"When I first got here our weight room was in the Mosier Indoor facility. I can remember getting underneath the old squat racks that we used to have and just get goose bumps on my body, because I couldn't believe that I was actually an OU football player. That was something that I had dreamed about my whole life. I am an Oklahoma kid and I used to sit in the stands every game and watch the Sooners play. I felt the same gut-wrenching pains when OU was going through that down-time that the 70,000 people in the stands were feeling. Believe me, I know how lucky I am right now to be at OU. I know I wake up every morning and I am totally a Sooner and I know that the people that are watching me love the Sooners as much as I do. I want to play very hard for them, but for my teammates and for the state of Oklahoma.

JH: You were a state kid that always wanted to play at OU and you made that happen in recruiting. It seems today that the Oklahoma athletes are the toughest athletes for the Sooner coaching staff to recruit. What do you try to tell the local guys about playing at OU?

TS: If you are an Oklahoma kid, I don't see any reason why you wouldn't play at OU, unless you have just had a negative experience in Oklahoma and you needed to get away. If you are an in-state kid, there is not any other school in the country that will support a player from Oklahoma like the University of Oklahoma. My dad always believed and said that those in-state athletes that stayed and played at OU became state assets. They are players that people will always look up to. Those players will always be remembered as local players who stayed home and played for their hometown university, and they will never forget about those players.

JH: Who looks good in practice right now?

TS: All of our receivers look good. However, it's tough for all of our guys to get up in the morning and we are really battling the young guys. Just to get them at practice is something that I am happy about at this point. There are no coaches there to tell them they have to be there, so there is no punishment except from the players and the senior class. The quarterbacks are throwing the ball well and Nate and Jason both look great. Brent is coming along well. Mark Clayton keeps catching the ball well. Bubba Moses, our freshman tight end, seems to be improving every day. Lance Donley is now a veteran and he looks great this summer.

Among the defensive guys Eric Bassey is a guy who has stood out to me. Brandon (Eveage) must be feeling pretty good, because he has started to talk a whole lot more. He can't hit anybody right now, so that aggression has to go somewhere because he doesn't have any pads on.

JH: What do you think of the young tight ends that will be taking over for you after this year?

TS: We have Chris Chester, a kid from California who is coming along nice. He is real hard worker, shows up when he is supposed to and that is 50 percent of the battle right there. The same thing goes for James Moses, who we call Bubba. I am kind of upset with him right now, because he missed pass skell this morning and I have to find him and find out what happened. That is the first one he has missed. Lance Donley is not the young guy anymore and that feels crazy, because he has always been the young guy. This will be his third year at OU and he is now a junior. It is kind of like watching your little brothers grow up sometimes. Now I know how Matt Anderson, Chris Hammons and Jason Freeman felt when I was young. The young guys now come to me when they have a question or two when Coach (Jonathan) Hayes isn't around. It is just a special bond that we all have all together.

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