- Graham Bensinger, Contributing Writer, ESPN.com
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Editor's note: Between now and the NFL draft (April 28-29), Graham Bensinger will be talking to a high-profile prospect each week. This week, he checks in with Ohio State QB Troy Smith.
Graham Bensinger: It's only the beginning of March. How sick are you getting of the same questions?
Troy Smith: I'm taking it in stride and accepting it for what it's worth. I knew it was going to come. I'm just proud and happy to be in this situation. Not a lot of people get to go through this and answer some of the crazy questions that I do get asked.
Bensinger: What's the most ridiculous question you're being asked?
Smith: The most ridiculous is probably: Are you really six feet? I've been measured off about 50 times already!
Bensinger: There are continual inquiries about your height. Do you think it's occurred to some of the questioners that it's not as if you would be any taller if you ate more Wheaties or did more push-ups?
Smith: I don't know, man. I talk to my good friends about this all of the time. It's incredible to me how someone who has no opinion in the situation [the media] shapes other people's opinion. Their opinion really means nothing to the people that really matter.
Bensinger: You say it doesn't shape the opinion of the people that matter – the decision makers – but to what extent do you wonder if the people in those positions listen to the analysts, columnists, and people of that nature?
Smith: Obviously, people watch TV and listen to the radio. No one wants to be bad mouthed. No one wants to be talked bad about. No one wants to be viewed as someone who's not smart or who doesn't put himself in good situations. It's incredible to me how the media's eyes for what goes on still shapes a lot of people's decisions.
Bensinger: How was the combine experience otherwise?
Smith: The combine was good for me. I enjoyed it. Anytime I can get into a situation where I can meet the top guys around the nation -- I'm going to have fun with it.
Bensinger: How did the actual experience compare with your initial expectations?
Smith: I was prepped so well prior to it by a lot of players from my university. It was everything that I expected it to be. I was told to be well dressed in meetings. I tried to do that and the people that were well dressed stood out. I was told to carry oranges and apples because there would be long days. It was exactly what I wanted it to be.
Bensinger: How long were the days?
Smith: Oh, man Starting at 5:30 or 6 a.m. and ending at 11:30 or 11:45 p.m!
Bensinger: And you're expected to come back the next day at your top ability on short rest?
Smith: (laughs) I guess so. If you're going to make an investment in an athlete, he better be all-world!
Bensinger: What's the best advice you received for going through this process?
Smith: Stay humble. Just be who you are. That applies to everything in life. Some people will like you for who you are and others won't. Just be true to yourself.
Bensinger: You mentioned the meetings that you went through at the combine. What did they entail?
Smith: Some were about football and others were about your life. The thing that's funny is even though they ask you the questions about how your life is -- they already know. (laughs) I guess it's just a matter of them wanting you to tell the truth and be upfront with them. You sign so many waivers releasing the consent of a team to go and do a background check on you. They're going to find out everything about you.
Bensinger: Is it just intended as small talk or are they really looking to see if you're going to be truthful?
Smith: They definitely want to see if you're being truthful. I know if I have an organization, I want nothing but honest people in it. That's the purpose of those types of meetings.
Bensinger: What types of questions were asked?
Smith: They ask about a particular situation and you're aware they already know the answer. Sometimes you don't know if they really know. If you don't bring it up, they'll say, "What about this? What about that?" And you're like, "Oh, yeah I mean, yeah!"
Bensinger: How do the questions that the teams ask you differ from those that come from the media?
Smith: The teams don't buy into the baloney. They get into more of the in-depth, truthful things as opposed to what's said in the media. At the same time, if there are things that are reported that raise eyebrows -- they'll address them. They've seen so many athletes that I think they have a pretty good understanding as to who's telling the truth and who's not.
Bensinger: To what extent, if any, do people discount your collegiate success?
Smith: I don't think they do. I think they understand and know winners when they're in contact with one. They know everyone can play football so it's more to get an understanding of the type of person that you are.
Bensinger: What aspect of your game are you most proud of?
Smith: My leadership and ability to communicate with other players. That's what I pride in the most.
Bensinger: What aspect needs the most work?
Smith: Probably my decision making as a QB. My decision making can constantly get better.
Bensinger: How do you work on decision making?
Smith: Film study and knowing where the guys are. It slows the game down.
Bensinger: What do you say to those who have expressed concerns over your accuracy?
Smith: (laughs) I think that everybody has an opinion. Some people say it's accuracy and others say it's arm strength.
Bensinger: What do your workouts presently entail?
Smith: They're tapering down right now because we're getting around Pro Day [March 10]. It was a lot of squatting, lunging, eating healthy, running, throwing, and testing the drills out.
Bensinger: You've had to attend a variety of Heisman Trophy banquets. In some cases you'd prefer training, but realize that you're really wanted there. How hard does that make it?
Smith: You're stepping into scrutiny regardless of the decision you make. I was going to be scrutinized if I didn't attend one of the functions. If I attended and later on I'm not able to work out, someone else will scrutinize me.
That's [an example of] people going on TV and scrutinizing athletes when they don't know what's going on. They've probably never even had to accept an award. They've never had the luxury of saying, 'Yes, I will accept this award.' They go on TV and talk about how they think someone is not in shape. I guarantee you the person that said that I would smoke in a race. He wouldn't even be close to me.
Graham Bensinger is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. Visit his Web site at: TheGBShow.com. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Troy Smith talks about his experience at the combine, all the scrutiny from the media and more in the Weekly Conversation.