Allen Smith Q&A

By now, you have read enough stories on the rollercoaster recruitment of 6'5" Arizona offensive lineman Allen Smith to make you sick. But through them, you have seen but a fraction of this young man. For a much more intimate look, take in this interview conducted Wednesday evening. I took questions from subscribers, and selected a group to give the four-star recruit. Regardless of your school affiliation, you will fall in love with this guy...

The Bootleg's Q&A session with Allen Smith
(1/14/04)

AS: Man, I am ready. Game ready. I even shaved my head. Let's do this.

TB: Based on your mother's profession, how will that influence your college decision?
AS: Not at all. My mother has been very intense about me making my own path in life; she would hate it if I went to a university based on her rather then what my heart tells me.

TB: What are the favorite/least favorite parts of the recruiting process?
AS: My favorite part of recruiting is by far, all the outstanding recruits and players I meet on the phone, and on visits. My least favorite part about the whole thing is going to be telling those schools I am not attending that they did not make the final cut. I hate to dissapoint.

TB: Do you see yourself at right tackle, or left? Does either offensive position seem like a better fit for you in college than defensive line?
AS: I like to think of my self as a renaissance man of the O-line. I will play and like to play any postition on the line, including center. But the truth is my body build is more typical of an O-linemen then a D-tackle, though I'm sure with enough training I could be just as effective. It would just take more time.

TB: Have you travelled the country much? If so, what areas to you enjoy the most?
AS:
No, I have not travelled as much as I would like to. I have seen a little back East like Virginia, Vermont, and New Hampshire, but I know I'm more of a Western kid. However, all of my family and both my brothers live in or attend college in the East.

TB: In making your choice, are are you assessing the overall academics of each school, or more at the quality in the specific departments in which you are most interested? How significant are these assessments to your ultimate decision?
AS:
I am looking at the overall academic performance of schools. I do have a selected major I know that can change, so I want to go to a school where I can remain flexible without losing anything from the education. While early on it was a major part in determining which schools I would consider, it's turned into a moot point as all the schools I'm considering have met a base academic standard.

TB: Is your computer science interest more applied (engineering) or theoretical (science)?
AS:
When I get my four-year degree, it will be more theoretical, but in the end I plan on making use of on the practical side of programing. I just decided that there was no need to pursue the practical side of the field since I have self-learned enough to attain my future goals.

TB: Are there any particular aspects of computer science theory that you are most interested in? (i.e. artificial intelligence, language design, etc) Or is it more a broad interest in getting a theoretical grounding to complement your programming knowledge?
AS:
The biggest aspect of CS theory that I'm interested in would have to be artificial intelligence. It's been a dream of mine to program a computer that when it "dies" it tells you why, and possibly how to fix it, rather then just a blue screen of death. Sadly it's only a dream.

TB: If you could pilot a spacecraft to Mars, would you go? If you went there, what types of things would you like to do?
AS:
(laughs)Yes I would go. If I didn't, my second oldest brother, Aaron, would never speak to me again. He's an astrophysics major. I would probably try and find a water source - I get thirsty quickly.

TB: If you are not playing pro football in 10 years, what do you see yourself doing career-wise?
AS:
(laughs) Honestly 10 years after my degree I plan on being retired. But I know that's not very practical. I see myself in the private computer security services, or working for the government.

TB: What do you think about being a prized blue chip recruit in your position?
AS:
I am? Honestly I had no idea. While that does make my day, as you can tell, I don't think much about it at all. I was told when I was young: luck is when preparation meets opportunity, and I guess you can say I got a little lucky. But I know that this is a chance I can't let slip away.

TB: Is anything distinctive about Stanford's recruiting approach, and if so, what?
AS:
Stanford's approach has been successful for me, beacuse they have never sold themselves as "a school in relation to." By that, I mean a lot of schools have told me that their football team is excellent in relation to a certain group. I like Stanford beacuse they sell themselves and only them, and not by bad mouthing other schools. Though that would be easy to do, especially from an academic standpoint.

TB: Who was the toughest guy you've blocked in camps you've attended?
AS:
I have only attended one camp, and that was at a local community college. But one of the toughest people I have blocked would have to be either Zach Miller or Mike Pollak, neither of whom were at the camp, but I can distinctly remember it being some of my most instense moments.

TB: Do you intend to throw the shot or discus in college? Do the throws help you in any aspect of football?
AS:
If I have the opportunity I will throw in college, beacuse both shot and discus require such great foot work - it's exceptional for increasing pass blocking coordination.

TB: What is your current workout schedule?
AS:
During the week I have basketball practice from 2 till 5, from which I go directly to our school gym. Monday, Wednesday and Friday I do all power lifts, such as bench, clean and squat. On Tuesday and Thursday I do curls and other body sculpting stuff. Got to look good for the girls, you know?

TB: Have you had the opportunity to do much community service? If so, what kinds interest you?
AS:
Yes, I have done tons of community service. I love it. I used to work at my old preschool as a "big brother" type person to keep them entertained. I'm also involved in my National Honors Society chapter where I clean up streets, and participate in Habitat For Humanity projects. And every three months or so, I give blood.

TB: What kind of advice have you gotten from your brothers regarding the recruiting process?
AS:
Honestly none that's been helpful, not that they don't help me in other ways. It's just that my brothers give advice from their point of view, but it's hard to take to heart when they are not as knoledgeable about the situation as you are. In the end it's their emotional support that has been their biggest contribution. They know and I know I couldn't have made it this far without it.

TB: Which NFL player resembles your style of play and why?
AS:
(laughs) This might be a shocker, but I don't watch much NFL. I know it's sad, but it seems to be just a constant reminder that there are people better than me, and I hate that idea, even though I know it's true. (laughs) But the one player I try to model myself after is Jonathan Ogden. He has the size of a brawler, but has the feet of a technician. That's what I want to be, and I work hard every day to get there.

TB: What do you think about the Cards and Fiesta leaving Tempe?
AS:
Honestly I couldn't tell you - I rarely go to either.

TB: Who is your favorite athlete?
AS:
Michael Vick by far. Truly a man that has it all - speed and strength in a humble package. So it would be Vick or a close second would be Todd Heap.

TB: Interesting that you are a fan of Heap and Vick. Do you ever dream about carrying the ball in a game?
AS:
Of course I have that dream. I would love to get a fumble for a touchdown or intercept a pass and run with it, but I don't dream about it nearly as much as I do making that key block that keeps the QB alive. Then he throws a touchdown pass to win the game - that's my fantasy. That's what I live for.

TB: Allen, you are obviously an articulate thinker. Did you feel like an odd man out being academically accomplished and a great football player? Also, did you feel like the two conflicted?
AS:
Thank you for the compliment, and yes, I have gone on some recruting trips where being a strong academic student was unheard of. I have even been approached by fellow recruits asking, "Hey Big Al are you gonna go to some smart school?" I was honestly at loss as how to awnser, but no, the two will never ever conflict. If they ever do, then I won't be playing football. My mother said so.

TB: What is your favorite meal to eat before a game?
AS:
Well during the day before games, we have team meals, so I eat what is prepared for us. But the night before I love eating fried chicken and my mom's mac and cheese. It's not very good pregame food, but it's good for the soul if you know what I mean.

TB: What routines do you have before a game? Are you superstitious?
AS:
I am very superstitious. I actually bought 10 pairs of cleats my junior year, and wore a new pair every game. The ones where I played well I kept; the ones that I felt I played poorly I tossed away. This year I pulled out the good game cleats and repeated the process. As far as pregrame rituals - The night before, I always shave my head. That day of, I construct my shoulder pads, pants and helmet into what I call my "Man," which is basically the girdle under the pants, and the shoulder pads on top of the pants, then the helmet on the pads and my gloves at either side until it looks like a man. Then he and I sit and listen to music until dress time.

TB: How will you sort out your college decision since you have a very busy travel schedule in the remaining days of the month?
AS:
I am going to look, and look and look untill I find 'it' and once I find 'it' and im sure 'it' is what I want, then I will make my decision. But that's the way I have handled everything in my life: look and seach, fight and claw, until everything feels right.

TB: What type of music prepares you for football?
AS:
You all are going to think I'm nuts, but classical. Mozart's Symphony No.40 and 41. It does something to me. Whoever said "music soothes the savage beast" never met me.

TB: I hope this is not a leading question, but what are you looking forward to this weekend?
AS:
(laughs) I would have answered it regardless, but what I am looking forward to is first of all seeing Stanford. I have been told it's beautiful, but I want to experience it first hand. (laughs) My mom grew up on a farm; I want to see what it was like. But other than that, I want to meet the players, and get a feel for 'it.' Stanford either has 'it" or it doesn't, but it will be exciting to see.

TB: If you weren't going to play football in college, what three schools would you be applying to?
AS:
(laughs) Stanford, Notre Dame, and UCLA... maybe ASU.

TB: How do you feel when coaches from schools badmouth the other colleges after you?
AS:
There is no emotional response. It doesn't make me angry or anything of that sort; I just make a mental note of their maturity level. I won't go to a college where the average coach holds a maturity level of a six-year old.

TB: Has Alex Fletcher influenced your college preferences?
AS:
(laughs) I can't answer that, but I will say Alex is one of the finest young men I have ever spoken to. I can't wait to meet him someday.

TB: Do you have a funny/amusing recruiting story that you can tell. You don't even have to tell us which school is involved.
AS:
(laughs) I don't have any stories from any school-side events or even phone conversations. Well I have one, but it's not exactly PC... I am in a class called competition government, where we divide into six units of four people and write a speech based on certain questions related to the Constitution. One night when I was revising a speech with my Chinese friend named Howard, I get a coach's phone call on my cell. I answer, we greet each other and he asks, "So how are you doing now?" I respond, "Just fine. We are just ironing out the last few chinks in our presentation." When I realized what I said it was too late; the rest of my unit besides me and Howard began laughing hysterically. After a while, I gave in and started laughing as well. But I sent him a fruit basket in apology. I really meant to say "kinks," but you know how it is.

TB: How do the coaching changes at these schools affect your decision? Or will they?
AS:
Yes, they affect me greatly. This decision is already very nerve-racking because a lot of it is chance. I made a promise to myself that I would not put myself in an already unstable situation, because as long as I'm in the driver's seat I want stability. Once I get there I can't do anything about it.

TB: Have you met Ekom Udofia, and do you think you could block him?
AS:
No, I have not met him, but I love going against oustanding athletes. Yes, I think I can block him. Everyone has a weakness; I mean everyone. So give me a tape of his game and a sandwich and I will find it.

TB: Who will be making the trip this weekend with you? Does your family go with you on all your trips?
AS:
Yes, my family and even some of my extended family will be making the Stanford trip this weekend. My family went with me to Notre Dame, but Arizona State, UCLA and Tennessee are solo visits.

TB: Has your high school coach helped in this process?
AS:
Yes, as much, as he can. We have not had anyone recently to have the type of exposure that I do, so he is doing what he can. But I love his input. He shaped me into what I am as a football player today. He saw a young 351-pound freshman, and said, "I will make him one of the best in the country." I couldn't have asked for more. So his emotional support as a father figure has been help enough.

TB: Do you read message boards? Which community is harshest on their coaching staff - ND, UCLA, ASU or Stanford?
AS:
Don't read message boards, don't read my own press. What people say and think about me, I have no control over, and it's the same for how they think about certain programs. I am in no place to answer that question.

TB: What is your biggest concern about Stanford, pre-visit?
AS:
(laughs) My biggest concern: Do the dorms support 330-pound 6'5" individuals? The reality is if they can't, then Stanford was obviously not meant for me.

TB: You are stuck on a desert island with one DVD, one CD, one book and one woman. What are your choices?
AS:
DVD: Rocky IV- teaches survival. CD: Mozart, of course. Book: Sun Tzu's Art of War or Machiavelli. Woman: my girlfriend.

TB: How many pieces of mail do you get each week? How many phone calls (including reporters)?
AS:
I'm sorry I can't tell you - I no longer check my mail, and I no longer directly take phone calls. I have an excellent screener: my mom.

TB: Does your girlfriend have her college choices made?
AS:
Yes, she does. She applied early action to Brown, but got deferred and is hoping she gets in with general admission. If not Brown then she will attend Harvard or Columbia.

TB: How would you handicap your college choices today?
AS:
Stanford 25%. ND 25%. ASU 20%. UCLA 20%. Tennessee 10%.

TB: What are you looking for in a football program? National Championship, development for NFL, running offense, pro style offense, etc?
AS:
My ultimate goal is the NFL, but what I look for in a football program is just 100% commitment to each other. Offenses can be changed, but in the end the winning attitude is what makes the game of football worth it. We will get our National Championship as long as we have a champion attitude.

TB: What are your hobbies and spare-time activities? What would you do in college extracurricularly if not football?
AS:
I have a plethora of hobbies. I love to write computer program code, speech and debate team, poker (for no money of course). If I did not play football in college then I would love to join a basketball IM league and play. Anything where I can compete and sweat. I need competition; without it I feel idle. Last time I checked, that was a sin.

TB: Do you have an opinion on whether or not college athletes should be paid?
AS:
No, they absolutely should not be paid. Why ruin one of the last pure facets of the game of football? Once you cheapen the game by playing it for more then just the pure love of competition, then you open the doors to everything else that could corrupt the game, and it's just not fun. (laughs) But let's be real. I'm sure at some point in my career I'll say, "Man I wish I got cut a check for this at the end of the month." And then I would promptly kick my own ass and refocus.

TB: If you had the Lebron James option and could jump directly to NFL with $90 million in endorsements, etc. - would you still go to college instead?
AS:
No, no. I would not beacuse if the $90 million is there out of high school, then I would expect $200 million coming out of college. And I would be good enough to have that $5 million body insurance just in case I got hurt. So no matter what, by staying in college I'm set.

TB: What do you consider the greatest sporting event of all time?
AS:
Greatest sporting event of all time would have to the Little League World Series. I don't know why, but seeing those young athletes compete for their own love of the game - and their country - it gives me a lot of hope for the futrue. I mean, it's not spectacular; it's not flashy. But it's got something every other event does not: a wholesome attitude.

TB (moderator): How about one particular sporting event in time?
AS:
Oh, snap. I can't think of the greatest one, but I can think of the most interesting one. What was the Olympics where the Soviet Union beat the American team on a last second shot? 1976? 1972? The U.S. still hasn't picked up their silver medal. That's what made it so impressive to me - their will to win refuses to let them acknowledge an unjust loss. I mean, that game is open to interpretation, but I just admire the spirit of both sides.

TB: If you were President of the United States for a day, what would you want to try to accomplish?
AS:
(laughs) Wow - that's by far the most difficult question all night... After much concideration: health care for all Americans.

TB (moderator): How are going to pay for that, chief?
AS:
Oh, I've got the plan, my man. I wrote a 20-page proposal on it. To defend my position I would first like to define what I mean by "all Americans." By this I mean those 40 million-plus who already don't have a health care plan. So this would only apply to those who can't afford it, or those just turning 18 that don't have it yet. I would fund the program by increasing corporate revenue taxes. While this might be a little harsh, I would give them an option of donation, where a public charity is set up with the sole purpose of health care funding. When corporations give large dollar donations, they can recollect it on taxes as a charitable donation. I might even add a potential option of tax credit, like they do with citizen donations to schools. But the program would be completely funded by the corporate sector, and for those small business with a corporate title that don't want the corporate tax to apply to them, all they have to do is simply not renew their title. I know that's a little tentative, but it's really hard to explain without the full paper. You get the outline.

TB: What did you think of the official Stanford application process - the essays, the work, etc?
AS:
I felt like the application was really interested in the type of person you are, not just what your numbers came down to. The essays were a great way to reveal character. It has been my most fun application to date. Just a little slow. It took a long time before I got my acceptance. I thought they didn't like me.

TB: What player past or present would you most like to pancake?
AS:
(laughs) Excellent question to end on. There are lot of choices out there - college, high school and NFL. But my dream pancake is Warren Sapp. I don't know why; I just feel the need.


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