Eli Smith | Kansas Wesleyan University | OL
Twitter: @EliSmith55 | Instagram: @elismithusa55
Q: Tell us about your college career and what the recruiting process was like. Why did you choose Kansas Wesleyan University?
A: I chose KWU originally for basketball. I really developed a relationship with the basketball coaching staff while I was in high school, so it was my frontrunner by a landslide. I was recruited for football as well, however I was around 210 pounds leaving high school, so with my smaller size I chose basketball. After two years of college basketball and allowing for my body to develop a little further, I made the switch to football at KWU in the spring of 2016. There was a lot of time in the coaches’ offices, as I had never played 11 man football, nor offensive line. I was blessed to be surrounded by a lot of outstanding talent for such a small school, so we had a lot of success the four years I played, including back to back conference championships and playoff runs my junior and senior year.
Q: What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your sports career so far?
A: After our 2018 season, I was selected AP First-Team All-American, so that was my biggest honor. Personally however, I view my development into the offensive lineman I am today as my biggest accomplishment. I never played offensive line until I made the switch to football at KWU in 2016.
Q: What do you consider to be one of the more important things you learned from the coaching staff while playing at Kansas Wesleyan?
A: You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with. Surround yourself with good, hard working people.
Q: What was your major and what are your plans if football doesn’t work out?
A: I will finish my Masters in Business Administration in March 2020. My undergrad degree is in Business Management, along with a standalone Accounting degree. If football were to not work out, my next steps would be developing my career in taxes and real estate investing.
Q: What would your current/past teammates say about you and your qualities?
A: They’d say that I am a humble man and I’ll do what is best for the team. Once you get to know me, I can be a funny guy.
Q: What has been one of the most memorable plays of your career at any level?
A: I was playing defensive end my senior year of high school. It was homecoming week against our rivals. As I rush around the edge, their QB throws the ball, and it’s blocked at the line by our stud defensive tackle. It falls right into my hands, and I return it 50 yards for a touchdown. It was a special play that I’ll never forget.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge and how do you manage it?
A: One of the biggest challenges I’ve had to overcome is fighting that voice in your head that says, “You deserve a break.” That voice is complacent, and when I’m not careful, it can really impede progress on my dreams. I’ve found that the best way to manage it is through establishing routines. When a day is planned out and you keep track of the progress, it’s easy to maintain. When you leave windows of free time or fail to plan, it becomes a lot harder to make progress.
Q: If you could compare yourself to a pro athlete, who would that be and why?
A: It is difficult to compare myself to a pro athlete in my opinion, because I understand how high of a level they play at on a consistent basis, and I have a lot of respect for that. However, if I had to, I would compare myself to Eric Fisher. I hope to have an opportunity for growth similar to his, where he was a player who did not come from a power 5 school, yet still developed into the great player he is today.
Q: What is your biggest strength that you bring to a professional team and why should pro scouts consider you?
A: I have a desire to be better than who I was yesterday. I consider myself to be a raw project for any pro team, but knowing that, I also believe I have a high upside, as well as the intangibles for a solid foundation to start my pro career on.
Q: Are you involved in mentoring, a charity or do you “give back”/”pay it forward” in your community?
A: While time restrictions have limited my opportunity for it this year, last year I participated in VITA, or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, where I helped people in the community screen and fill out their tax returns for free. Additionally, I’ve given back to the community through service projects done by our football team as well.
Q: How are you preparing for the 2020 National Scouting Combine and what are your goals?
A: I have been training at Sharp Performance in Salina, KS. My goals have been to catch up with the competition, essentially, and I feel like I am close to doing so. Considering that I started college at 210 pounds and wasn’t able to bench 225 until my second year, it’s been a long road, but I have and will continue to put myself in the best possible situations to close and surpass that gap.
Q: What would be your ultimate achievement?
A: NFL practice squad my first year, then continue to grow and learn from the best.
A: Spending time laughing and planning with my wife and watching her coaching dreams unfold. I really enjoy spending time with my family and friends as well.
Q: Who is or has been the most influential person in your life?
A: My father. I’ve learned from him that when all else fails, keep working hard and don’t complain.
Q: What is something unique about you that people would find interesting?
A: I have a twin sister! The twin bond is something that’ll never be broken.