Smiley grew up in Seattle (WA) but moved to West Helena (Ark) the summer before his junior season.
"The move was tough on me for sure," added the very well spoken Eric Smiley. "It was pretty much a culture shock for me, but now I would not trade it for the world. I love it down here. Everyone treats you like family."
What were Smiley's expectations for his first season of football?
be honest, I did not think I would be that good because I thought everyone else
would be more advanced, physically stronger, but I had more natural technique
and strength that I thought. I pretty much amazed myself and learned everything
they taught me. You just have to listen to your coaches and let everything sink
Smiley dominated on the field in his first season as he collected 73 tackles, 14 sacks, and had 29 qb hurries.
"I still have a long ways to go though," added the matter of fact Smiley. "I need to understand the plays better. I just need to learn the basic fundamentals. The only thing I know is hitting the person with the ball in his hands."
One of Eric's attributes is his speed as he was timed at a 4.68 while weighing 270 pounds.
"I can run with the running backs most of the time, and that helps me out a lot. I really want to stay at defensive end in college. I love to get after the passer. Everyone looks at me and says, he is a a defensive tackle, because of my size. But I can run like a defensive end. I just love it at end."
Smiley rode down with his head coach and four of his teammates to Ole Miss' Jr Day on Saturday.
"Coach Nutt was the first coach to start recruiting me. Coach Vaughn and all of those coaches at Arkansas came over there with him. I just like how they care about you more as a person than a player. They are all about your academics, sports is secondary. It is not like football is not important to them, because it is everything, but so are your grades and going down the right path. They are all about making you into a man."
There were a couple of new things that Smiley learned about Ole Miss that he did not know from before.
"I did not know they had that much history. I was looking at all of those banners and All-Americans they have produced. And I did not know that Chucky Mullins went to Ole Miss. I knew all about Chucky when I was in Seattle. Ole Miss has a lot of history."
Was Ole Miss about what he was expecting, better, or worse?
"It was better because the coaches want to build a true
relationship with the individual players. I got to speak to some of the current
players down there, and every single one of them had nothing but good things to
say about them. I also did not know the facilities were that nice. I have never
seen an indoor practice facility like that. I hope to one day get to practice
Where do the Rebels now stand?
"They stand first. They are my first choice, but I am still looking at Washington State pretty hard too. That is my home town."
Coach Nutt sent Eric a written scholarship, but the Rebels are not the only ones.
"I have written offers from Ole Miss, Arkansas, and Arkansas State."
Smiley reports a 3.2 Core GPA.
Stay tuned at Scout.com as we will have highlights from Eric's junior season in the coming days.