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NFL Draft: Interview with New Cardinals Left Guard Lecitus Smith

Years later, and after one invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl, Smith landed in the position to be drafted into the NFL. The hard work he put in over the years would only be the beginning.

More than 200 guys got their shot in the NFL Draft this year, with a handful of guys getting picked up by teams after. But one of those lucky 262 players who got the phone call was Virginia Tech’s left guard, Lecitus Smith. Smith was the 215th overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals.

Smith accrued a lot of honors over the years at Virginia Tech. In 2020 alone, he was elected to the PFF College National Team of the Week for October 10; the All-ACC Third Team, the All-ACC Second Team and an All-ACC Honorable Mention.

Though Smith spent years perfecting his football skills to ultimately get to the next level, his heart wasn’t always set on football.

He liked watching football with his brother, who became an inspiration for him to begin playing.

“One day he told me, he was like, ‘Lecitus, you need to ask dad to sign us up for football,’” Smith said.

Smith brought it up to his dad, and his dad was on board with one condition.

“Okay but, you get out there and you get hit, you better not start crying,” Smith said. “He signed me up, I went out there for the first day of practice, we put on pads. I’m really small - and we’re doing this hitting drill, and I get hit and I fall on my butt and immediately start crying.”

Though day one of football was not so easy for the eight-year-old, Smith found love for the game anyway and came back the second day ready for more. Smith played up to high school, describing himself as a skinny and scrawny freshman who didn’t have the chance to play right away. Smith’s odds were not in his favor since there were seniors in the tight end spot.

By sophomore year, however, the starting tight end went down, and Smith got his shot to play. Ultimately, his playing time was limited, but he knew he’d be playing more into his college career. By the time he got to Virginia Tech, he switched to offensive lineman.

Years later, and after one invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl, Smith landed in the position to be drafted into the NFL. The hard work he put in over the years would only be the beginning.

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“Ever since the combine ended for us, I’ve been here every single day working out,” Smith said. He took the training and workouts seriously, noting that he wants to be in shape and ready to go on day one.

“Some teams want you to report a day later, two days later, maybe three, there’s a quick turnaround,” Smith said. “If a team picks me up that really needs a guard, and if they throw me in right away. It’s one thing to be in the NFL, but to actually play, is gonna be crazy, especially if it’s a quick turnaround,”

Smith’s hard work helped him stand out in this year’s draft, due to his athleticism, his ability to move, get to the second level and being able to stop the bull rush.

Smith looks to guys like Christian Darrisaw, the starting left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, for advice about anything. He also reaches out to Wyatt Teller, especially since Smith was a young guy when Teller was in his last year. Both guys have helped Smith become the athlete he needed to be.

Smith took advantage of the pandemic, especially since he wanted to continue his training and workouts in case he and his team would return to the field.

I still do have videos of two years ago me working out in my living room with my bookbag full of books,” Smith said.

He got creative by making use of things around the house, Since he couldn’t get to the gym, he had a mindset of trying to balance what was lacking. He talked about how there are people who say, “I didn’t go to the gym today so I’ll work twice as hard tomorrow,” are not thinking in the best mindset, and instead should find motivation in one way or another. This thought process helped Smith hold himself accountable.

“I feel like that’s how a guy can show real resilience,” Smith said.

Smith also used yoga to get flexible, help with knee bending and focus on working out in that regard as well. He found that yoga was good for both physical and mental strength, but focused mostly on its physicality.

Smith kept a level head through the years, ultimately leading to his cool composure coming into the NFL Draft. His helpful advice to younger athletes is to not come into college with an ego. Every level you move up, there are just as many people as good as you. He also talked about the importance of listening to your coaches. They get paid to do their job and they want to win, so they will put the best possible player out on the field. It’s always best to listen to and get the necessary feedback from the coaches so players can succeed.

“That’s why I am where I am today, I love to say it’s because I work hard, without a doubt, but I also give a special thanks to my college coaches, my college strength staff, my high school coaches and high school strength staff,” Smith said. “They definitely got me to where I am and I greatly appreciated it.”

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