Allen Smith, Part III: The Future

"We've had some rough games, some rough losses and some rough seasons, but at the same time, we've had some amazing joys. I would never trade the time I've had with my teammates for anything. The success that we've had with Coach Harbaugh has made the struggle entirely worth it, in my mind. I even told Coach Harbaugh and Bob Bowlsby after the Notre Dame game, 'This is what I was playing for.'"

For Part I, click here.
For Part II, click here.

The Bootleg: You're in sixth year, so academically, what are you doing right now?

Allen Smith: I got my degree in STS with a focus in Management Science and Engineering. I applied for the Communication co-term and did not get in, so for the most part, since last year, after I successfully graduated, I've been taking sociology classes to finish up a sociology minor which I intend on turning in to a master's once my career in football is over.

Q: Anything else that you're doing outside of football?

A: All last year, when I was hurt, I was a mentor at the James Flood School in East Menlo Park—it recently relocated to East Palo Alto. I was a sixth grade mentor for an after-school program there and taught three subjects. It was a lot of fun, and some of the best exposure since I've been out here. It felt really good to give back to the community, so I'm still really involved with them. That's been my focus, as well as trying to visit the vet hospital. But beyond that, I've really tried to focus on getting healthy and realizing my dream.

Q: What are you doing for fun? Anything that stands out when you're just relaxing?

A: When I'm just relaxing? I love video games, I love my PS3.

Q: Any games in particular?

A: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has really put a damper on my finals studying.

Q: I was talking with Chris Owusu before, and he said he plays Modern Warfare 2, too, is there a group of your guys that play?

A: Oh yeah. Me, Chris Owusu, David DeCastro, Matt Kopa, Warren Reuland, Sean Wiser—we're always on there. Video games are a great chance to kick your legs up—you don't have to be on your feet—and it's entertaining, so it's a win-win situation. In terms of things on campus, I thought Gaieties was hilarious. I always enjoy that stuff. Exotic Erotic is going to be interesting this year, too.

Q: Absolutely. Continuing on about teammates, are there any guys who are redshirting, or haven't seen much playing time, who you think are going to impress in the coming years.

A: Yes, I believe Usua Amanam, our freshman running back who came in and has been out with a fractured foot all year, was an extremely dynamic player when he played at Bellarmine down here in the Bay Area. I have people in the community asking me how he's doing, if he's going to be a good player for us. After seeing what he was able to do in high school, I think he's going to be an extremely dynamic player down the line. I also think Jamal Patterson, who is an up-and-coming wide receiver for us and has seen a bit of playing time this year, is going to be a very big threat in the Pac-10 as he hones his skills at the wide receiver position. Stepfan Taylor, after Toby Gerhart leaves, him and Tyler Gaffney are going to be the future in our backfield. They're a running threat. You're never going to replace a Toby Gerhart, but they're not a bad substitute at all.

Oh, and Trent Murphy. He's one of the best young players I've ever played against. He's given me a handful all throughout training camp, all throughout this season. As a sixth-year senior, to have trouble with a true freshman defensive end like that—my hat is off to him. He plays a lot bigger than he is and is going to be an outstanding player here.

Q: You mention that Usua was a dynamic player in high school and before he got hurt. There's been some talk about him moving to the defensive backfield. Do you see him more as a running back or defender?

A: I really think that because he's early on in his career, he can play any position he wants to. He has something you can't teach, and that's the speed and athleticism that his mom, dad and God gave him. At whatever position he decides to put that to work, I'm sure he will be an outstanding player.

Q: Are there any players who you see as potential coaches down the road? Is that something that you would like to do?

A: People have asked me that in the past, and honestly, I have really enjoyed the time developing the young guys, especially the offensive linemen and teaching them the position. That definitely makes coaching very tempting. But it's hard to think of myself in those terms because I still consider myself a football player and want to play this game as long as I can. When that time is done, I might re-evaluate my position, but as far as I'm concerned right now, I'm a player.

In terms of other players who could be coaches, our quarterbacks know the game as well as anybody, given the preparation that's required by Coach Harbaugh. They know the game of football inside and out. Also, Chris Marinelli could be an excellent coach, he's a very dynamic guy. I could also see Ryan Whalen just because of how he mentors the young receivers. And also, Tom Keiser, after seeing the way he's raised those defensive ends by telling them how their moves are and picking apart their technique. He's one of the true technicians of the team. Any of those guys could be an outstanding coach.

Q: We usually just see everyone in pads when they're on the field. We rarely go behind the mask. Is there anyone who is particularly funny? Does the team have any big characters?

A: Joe Dembesky is absolutely hilarious. He does impersonations of every single person on our team, and he does them to a tee. We would not have made it through training camp without him. He can always make the locker room light-hearted, regardless of circumstance.

Q: You've been here through one year of Teevens, two years of Harris and three years of Harbaugh. How do you sum a career like that up?

A: Peaks and valleys. It's really what it's been since I've been here. Stanford had always said that it was on a cyclical system: there would be a few years where they were really good and a few years where they were really bad. My class came in with the mindset that we wanted to bring continuity back to the program, we wanted to make it a consistent contender year in and year out. Just now we're getting to the point that we wanted when we came in, and so for that I'm thankful. But through the years here, we've had some rough games, some rough losses and some rough seasons, but at the same time, we've had some amazing joys. I would never trade the time I've had with my teammates for anything. The success that we've had with Coach Harbaugh has made the struggle entirely worth it, in my mind, without a doubt. I even told Coach Harbaugh and Bob Bowlsby after the Notre Dame game, "This is what I was playing for." That was the feeling. You've never had so much pride and so much joy in knowing that your team had prepared and that you had ended your season on a note, and with a playing style, that you wanted to reflect on for the rest of your days. Beating Notre Dame, coming from behind, finding a way to win—that's everything in the world I've been looking for from this team, and I was so happy that we were able to get it done. That's how my career has been—it's been a struggle, but as they say, you sometimes have to go through hell to get to heaven, and we're finally there.

Q: Where do you see Stanford football over the next few years?

A: I firmly believe that Stanford will be a national championship contender for easily the next decade. I see this program doing nothing but building on itself. The bar is being raised every year. With Coach Harbaugh's intensity that he brings to recruiting, as well as coaching, along with the staff he's put together here, there's no doubt in my mind that we could easily win 10-11 games. I expect that to be the result, year in and year out, at least for the next decade.

Q: Any final thoughts?

A: I do want to say that I really appreciate the Stanford community, the fans, the greater Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton community, and everybody who is a Stanford football supporter for the support they've showed us this season. The Red Zone has been absolutely amazing. The feelings that I've gotten from the public, and the fans' encouragement with me coming back from my injuries—honestly, I couldn't have done it without the support of the fans and everybody in the program. I wouldn't have been in the position I'm in, I wouldn't have had the success that I've had, and I wouldn't have had the memories I've had, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Q: That's actually something people wanted me to convey. They hoped that they knew that they deeply appreciated how you kept on fighting.

A: Thank God. As I said, I appreciate it, and realistically, I am thanking them, because without them, there would have been a lot of time where, without that encouragement, it would have been a lot easier to stop. But I'm so happy I didn't, and I hope they continue to support Stanford football in the future.

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