Chargers interest at SDSU

The San Diego Chargers had the convenience of home field advantage. It was easy to see why they would send four members of their staff to the San Diego State Pro Day. It may surprise who their target of affection was.

While many fans have fallen in love with Kirk Morrison, the prodigal son of Aztec football, the Chargers spent some time checking out Vernon Smith – perhaps a fit as an undrafted free agent.

Smith, a member of Eastern Oregon University, played defensive back in college but appears to be making the transition to receiver.

In his first game after transferring from the University of Montana, Smith tallied three interceptions and returned two of those for touchdowns. He understandably earned NAIA Defensive Player of the Week. In that same game he added three pass deflections, a sack and returned two kicks for 83 yards.

Smith's departure from the Montana program stems from an incident where he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge. He received a six-month suspended jail sentence and was ordered to complete 80 hours of community service. Smith reportedly brandished a gun during an argument.

During his career at Montana, Smith also lost some time to injury. He had pins removed from his wrist and suffered a shoulder injury trying to block a field goal which required surgery.

Smith did graduate from Montana and earned an extra year of eligibility, transferring to Eastern Oregon in the process.

With Eastern Oregon, Smith had six interceptions and returned eight kickoffs for 255 yards, an average of 31.9 per return. He doubled as a receiver, catching two passes for 42 yards with a touchdown.

On Saturday, two members of the Chargers organization talked to Smith. James Lofton wanted to see what he could do at receiver and Smith turned in a solid performance. He showed fantastic hands and ran some crisp routes with Lofton staring down his every move.

A San Diego native, Smith is looking to put his past behind him and concentrate on the game he loves. The Chargers would seem to have his number handy when the draft ends and they are securing their undrafted free agents for the year.

Rest assured the Chargers did spend a lot of time checking out the linebackers that worked out on Saturday. They happen to know that Morrison is accessible should they need further details, but that is a stretch considering his ties to the Chargers.

He was at every home game the Chargers played in 2004 and knows many of the players on the team.

"Even though I had the day off, I wanted to go out and support those guys, watch those guys and see them revitalizing the city," he said.


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