One on One: Vernon "Pig" Smith

Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard linebacker Vernon "Pig" Smith, 5-11 and 235 pounds, was hoping to be roaming the field for the Pittsburgh Panthers this season. Unfortunately for Smith he did not score high enough on the SAT. Enter into the picture Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas.

Butler has played in the NJCAA National Championship game seven times since 1981. The Grizzlies won titles in 1981, 1998, 1999, and 2003. Head Coach Troy Morrell's team finished as the runners-up in 1987, 2001, and 2004. Morrell and the Grizzlies lured Smith away from the comforts of South Florida to the laidback landscape of El Dorado.

Smith took some time out of his workout schedule on Thursday to discuss his new lease on life at Butler Community College, and what the future may have in store for him. Big East Recruiting Analyst Bob Lichtenfels goes one on one with Vernon Smith.

Bob: Hello Vernon, I'd like to take the time for allowing us this opportunity.
Vernon: No problem, it's been a while.

Bob: The last time we spoke you were waiting on your final SAT score. You had considered at the time, not playing this year, and trying to enroll at Pitt in January, what happened?
Vernon: My final score was 780 it was not high enough. Butler came in and asked if I'd be interested in coming out here to play ball. I figured it would be a learning experience for me.

Bob: Coach Dulin told me you came in here a little out of shape.
Vernon: (Laughs) Yeah I was. Being here has helped me a lot, there's not much else to do except go to school and work out. We are always taught to always run to the ball, so I had to get into shape.

Bob: Have schools been recruiting you while you've been at Butler?
Vernon: I'm not looking at any schools; my focus is getting to Pittsburgh. That's the only school on my mind.

Bob: How often do you stay in contact with the Pitt coaching staff?
Vernon: Coach Bray came out here to see me this season. I try to stay in touch as much as I can.

Bob: When we first spoke you had said you and Kelvin Chandler wanted to go to Pittsburgh together. How often do you and Kelvin get to talk?
Vernon: We talk as much as we can; he really liked his first season at Pitt.

Bob: Did you get a little bit of culture shock out here?
Vernon: (laughs) There isn't anything to do here. I kind of like it because I can keep my focus. Once football is over you are just waiting for the next season to start. It's very different from South Florida.

Bob: What has been the biggest adjustment you have made while being here?
Vernon: We have this thing called "Grizzly Time" it stresses being on time, we have to be two minutes early for everything. Bob: Is the football here as competitive as it was in Florida? Vernon: There are a lot of D-I kids that you face, but I think Florida was a little tougher.

Bob: How long will it be until Panther fans get to see you patrolling the middle of the defense at Heinz Field?
Vernon: I have to be here two years and earn my associates degree, so I should be there in January 2006. Bob: Ok Vernon, I better let you get back to your workout. Once again I really appreciate you granting me the interview. Hopefully we can get an update on you more often. Good luck with your work, and I'm sure Pitt fans can't wait to see you in blue and Vegas.

Vernon: No problem Bob, anytime.

Panther Digest Top Stories