QB Smith: I Made the Right Decision
DaMarcus Smith is all smiles. His smile beams when he talks about his new school, UCF, and his new teammates and coaches. His smile grew even bigger when his mom called him to check up on his new life in Orlando.
A few months ago, however, Smith wasn’t so happy.
The Elite 11 quarterback had difficulty deciding on whether to choose his hometown school, the University of Louisville, or UCF, to play football. After signing with UCF, Smith’s mother, Daytonya Ward, called Knights head coach George O’Leary asking for a release of the signed National Letter of Intent. Smith ultimately decided to follow through with the signed NLOI and arrived at UCF in June.
Clad in a UCF shirt and the same black UCF hat that he wore while spurning his hometown of Louisville, Ky., when he chose to sign with UCF, Smith sat down with the Central Florida Future to talk about his experiences so far in Orlando and what he’s looking forward to the most with the Knights.
Central Florida Future: Are you happy that everything is finally settled down now and you finally get to play football?
DaMarcus Smith: Yeah, I’m very excited. It’s been a rough six months, but it was all worth it in the end. I’ve really learned throughout this whole process. I made the right decision. I’m here now and I’m going to stick with it and see what these next four years bring for me.
CFF: What stood out to you about UCF that ultimately made you decide to come here?
Smith: There’s a lot I can say. Really, the first thing that stood out was the academics. I remember throughout my whole official visit they showed us a lot of the academic sights and gave me a lot of facts about the school. Just knowing that UCF is one of the top schools as far as academics that really stood out to me. Coach [George] O’Leary, one of the main things he stresses, is to go to school for four years and get a degree. That really stood out to me.
CFF: Coach [David] Kelly mainly recruited you. What stood out to you about him?
Smith: He’s unique with his recruiting. He’s really a people-person. I could really trust his words; everything so far that he has said, it’s really happening. I’ve been practicing with the team a lot. A lot of people think that coaches are only nice to you when they’re recruiting you and then things change when you get there, but he’s really been the same guy that I’ve met from day one. My relationship with him has grown more and more every time I spend time with him. Another thing that stood out about him was his beliefs. I’m a Christian and he’s a Christian too, and that really stood out to me. I didn’t have a recruiter who shared my same beliefs.
CFF: I know you’re still kind of new to the area, but what has been your favorite thing about the UCF area so far?
Smith: I love the campus. I’ve never seen something like this. Being from Louisville, we have a pretty good university. It’s only like 20,000 people. But just being here at the big campus, seeing all the people, it’s like a whole ‘nother world for a guy like me coming from Louisville. Your eyes really open up when you move from a smaller city to a bigger city.
CFF: What have been some of the biggest adjustments for you coming from high school to college?
Smith: Well first, the biggest adjustment has been time management. Once you get in college, it really becomes like a business, like a job to you. It’s not like you just come to practice and lift weights whenever you want. Everything has a structure and time-frame; just getting used to that.
CFF: In terms of football, what’s the biggest difference?
Smith: It’s a lot faster. Everyone’s a lot bigger, stronger, faster. Everyone’s athletic; everyone’s good. The way it’s set up, everyone is going to get better because everyone is either just as good as you or even better than you.
CFF: What do you think of the athletic facilities?
Smith: Well my weight coach isn’t going to like this, but I don’t like the weight room right now (laughs). It’s intense! But, it’s definitely going to prepare us and prepare me for when the season starts. My favorite place is the indoor facility. That’s where I spend a lot of time, throwing with my receivers and really working out and working on my craft as a quarterback.
CFF: Who are the receivers that you practice the most with?
Smith: As of right now, I practice a lot with Rannell Hall and Jacques Mackeroy. Those are my two freshmen receivers. We spend a lot of time, especially today, and just on a Monday through Friday basis we work out a lot and throw a lot.
CFF: What’s this I hear about your cousin possibly coming here?
Smith: Yes, Michael Fluellen. He’s taking a class at Valenica [Community College] and will hopefully be enrolling in January of 2012; kind of like a greyshirt.
CFF: Do you know who your roommates are yet?
Smith: I’m not in the towers yet, but I’m hoping that it’s going to be my two receivers, Rannell and Jacques. I’ve built a pretty tight relationship with those guys.
CFF: How’s your relationship with Jeff Godfrey and Blake Bortles?
Smith: Jeff Godfrey is like a big brother to me. He’s really showing me the ropes. He’s taken me under his wing and I’m learning a lot from him. I’ve been a sponge. I’m just looking up to him like a big brother. He’s doing a great job at leading. And Blake Bortles, I actually met him my sophomore year of high school. We competed at a camp together so me and him kind of clicked back up when I got here. We’re on good terms. I love the team camaraderie, and I love how the quarterbacks all stick together.
CFF: Do you know what’s going to happen, as far as being redshirted?
Smith: You know, I’m just a team player and I’m willing to do whatever I have to do to play. Of course I’m gonna go out and compete, me being a football player. I understand that this is a business and that coach is going to make the best decision for the team and for me. After camp and close to the start of season, that’s when we’ll really know.
CFF: What are some of your goals going into fall and practice?
Smith: I just want to be the best player that I can possibly be. With me being a people-person, I really want to be a good teammate and I’m looking forward to all of my relationships with my teammates. It’s a new beginning, a new start for me with new people. I definitely want to get that together and make that a go. After that, it’s winning. I wanna win a BCS championship, win bowl games, win Conference USA. I’m looking forward to a successful season.
CFF: Besides football, what is your biggest hobby?
Smith: I love playing miniature golf and golf. I haven’t played a round of golf here yet, but I played miniature golf over at Congo River. That was fun, but it was pretty easy. I’m going to be bringing my set of golf clubs back down with me so I can play.
CFF: Can you drive pretty far?
Smith: Oh yeah, I can hit close to 400.
CFF: But how far can you throw it though?
Smith: I can throw it! I’ve been spotted at 82 yards, first bounce.
CFF: Have you picked up the new NCAA video game yet?
Smith: All my boys are talking about it, but I don’t even think I want to pick it up because my speed is rated a 66, which is really low. They also made me number 13, but I’m really going to be wearing number 10.
CFF: Wasn’t Nico Flores wearing number 10 last year? Did you make a deal with him or something?
Smith: I’m not gonna say [whether I took it from him or not], but O’Leary made me a promise! He said if I come back to Orlando, I’ll be wearing number 10. He’s a man of his word. I’ve worn number 10 my whole life. The first team I’ve ever played for in Louisville was called the 10th Street Cardinals. I’m obsessed with it.
CFF: How has it been memorizing all those new plays?
Smith: It’s definitely challenging to memorize the plays. I wouldn’t say it’s hard, because when it’s something you’ve been doing your whole life you catch on pretty quickly. It’s what I’m used to. I’m used to facing adversity. This freshman year, I know it’s gonna be tough. But things will start falling into place eventually.
Source: Central Florida Future, Q&A: DaMarcus Smith talks future with UCF, by Erika Esola, sports editor. Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2011; Updated: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 17:07