Patriots Draft Prospect: DB Harrison Smith

Patriots Insider spoke with California defensive back Harrison Smith to get his thoughts on the Draft. Having worked out with fellow defensive back Donnie McCleskey in a private workout for the Patriots, Smith just hopes for a shot at the next level. Smith is still on the board as a potential Day Two pick for the 2006 NFL Draft.

If it weren't for football, Cal-Berkley defensive back Harrison Smith would have a whole lot of unwanted time on his hands.

"I like to fish a bit," he said, trying to think of some hobbies. "I'm trying to get into golf, but I am not at all good at golfing. I'm hitting balls all over the place. It's not a pretty thing. I just hit it around."

And he plays saxophone too, on and off, just for fun. But Smith's focus can be summed up in seven words: I'm just getting ready for the league.

The league, of course, being the NFL, where this versatile safety/CB candidate hopes to spend a good amount of time.

"You are just anticipating every moment and hoping you're preparing yourself to be ready to play," he said. "But I love doing this, working out, football, all of it. Its fun."

Smith chuckled, adding "I'd be living a life right now if I had some money in my pocket.:

Where hell earn that money is probably the No. 1 question facing Smith as a pro. He was a safety in high school at Oakland's Skyline High, but after a redshirt freshman season at Cal he emerged as a cornerback. At 6-2, 200 pounds, he matched up against some big Pac-10 receivers, like Mike Williams of USC but he wasn't fazed. As a junior, he was seventh nationally with 18 pass deflections.

"There's a lot of guys I've faced; I've come to grips with a few good receivers out there," Smith said. "Me being a bigger corner, I get matched up with the bigger receivers. It doesn't really matter to me, as long as I'm getting chances to make plays, I'm happy."

He probably wasn't as thrilled between his junior and senior seasons, when he was shifted to free safety after that breakout 2004 performance. But he made the best of it.

"Well, it was like starting all over a little," Smith said, "but I had the benefit of experience and once I got the hang of it was fun. Moving to safety from corner, covering stuff was way easier, it's just being more physical out there."

The class with which he handled the move didn't go unnoticed.

"For him to move in and not complain about anything, that talks about great character," Cal defensive backfield coach J.D. Williams told the Oakland Tribune after Cal's 3-0 start in 2005. "He's got the athletic ability, and he's a true team person."

All of that positive karma will probably come back to him at the next level, where he can boast of a fairly unique versatility.

"I think I have the size to play safety, Im physical enough, and I feel like I have the athletic ability and speed (4.61 in the 40) to play corner," he said. "If a team is looking for a corner with good height that can move, I can definitely step into the corner spot."

Working out with Cal teammates like fellow safety Donnie McCleskey, another NFL hopeful has been the best part of the post-college-football process.

"Were always going to be part of something special together," Smith said. "We come out here every day working out, sharing stories, looking to see what's going to happen to the other guy. Were just all hoping to get a shot."

Smith visited the Lions and 49ers, and had workouts for the Patriots and Browns, but wherever his destination, he cant wait to get started.

"I'm looking forward to being on a team, going to a camp I'm looking forward to going back to being a football player. Put on some pads and tee it up on the football field."

Sounds a lot better than an afternoon spent losing golf balls.

Patriots Insider, Jon Scott contributed to this report.

Be sure to check the archives for Part Two of this interview (members link) along with interviews from other prospects the Patriots worked out or have shown interest in.

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