Torrey Smith knows precisely where he stands entering the first day of the NFL draft, likely to go late in the first round Thursday or early in the second round Friday. He’s relaxed, knowing the eventual outcome is out of his hands.
Perhaps most strikingly, the former Maryland wide receiver makes sure as many people as possible know about his journey - and more importantly, who he is - as he waits to hear his first professional destination.
Smith won’t go to New York for the draft, instead staying in Virginia to watch with his family and high school coach. ESPN will be there to televise the proceedings, a fact Smith mentioned on his Twitter account (@TorreySmithWR) earlier this week.
He used it frequently starting last season, and the lead-up to the draft helped him accumulate more than 5,500 followers. Yet the greatest payoff isn’t necessarily the interaction - though Smith frequently replies to fans - but the opportunity for the engaging and curious 22-year-old to create his own brand before landing in an NFL city.
“I think that’s important,” Smith said. “A lot of times, people go off what they know. There’s people who think I can’t play receiver. They might say I’m not as good as [others] think. They’ll think I’m this or that. They only go on what they know beforehand. I’m taking it upon myself to let them know who I am.”
At least beyond the numbers, which are easy enough to find. He had 67 catches for 1,055 yards while setting a school record with 12 receiving touchdowns as a junior. He’s also the ACC’s career kickoff return leader with 2,983 yards.
Any Smith highlight film is littered with moments from his 14-catch, 224-yard, four-touchdown game against N.C. State. It seemed likely it would be his final game at Byrd Stadium; sure enough, he declared for the draft - on Twitter, naturally - just after the Terrapins trounced East Carolina in the Military Bowl.
He went through draft preparation in Miami, then the NFL combine, then Maryland’s pro day. He reportedly made visits to Atlanta, Baltimore and Detroit, then returned to Miami before spending much of the last week in the Washington area.
In some ways, it was hectic. He figures Thursday night won’t be.
“I’m not nervous,” Smith said. “It’s not the best if you have to wait a full 24 hours [until Friday]. You’d like to know that day. But at the end of the day, I feel confident. It’s about opportunity and understanding it’s not where you get drafted but what you do once you get there.”
Smith projects similar calm - which was reflected throughout his college career - in his online interactions. Littered among a variety of nuggets, be it trading card signings or a visit to Baltimore-based Under Armour, are thoughtful observations about how the past four months have unfolded.
Naturally, there’s some fun involved, too. Smith’s back-and-forths with Maryland defensive tackle A.J. Francis, a Twitter staple while the two were still teammates, have continued since Smith left College Park.
“I was even at Comcast [SportsNet] yesterday and a bunch of people asked me about the Twitter jokes between me and A.J.,” Smith said. “It’s funny. It’s all entertainment.”
Undoubtedly, Smith savors the chance to play professionally. Some of it stems from a rapid rise; he was a relatively unheralded recruit and knew he would switch from quarterback to wide receiver when he came to College Park. He just didn’t know when he would play.
“I knew I had a shot [at the NFL] when I was done,” Smith said. “As a freshman, I knew I wanted to play special teams. I didn’t expect a lot at receiver until really last year.”
Of course, Darrius Heyward-Bey departed Maryland a year early, allowing Smith to develop into a multifaceted threat by the end of his sophomore season. But that didn’t mean he was especially well-known.
Smith took to fixing that on his own. And after his name is announced in the next two days, a new set of fans will get to know Smith in the months to come thanks to a social medium the wide receiver is using to his advantage.
“It’s just another way to interact,” Smith said. “They get to see my personality, and they know I’m not like a stereotypical athlete.”