The Iowa Hawkeyes are known for sending tight ends to the NFL. This year, the program is sending a pair of potential-packed wideouts to the pros in Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
Smith showed a lot of promise during the 2019 season at Iowa, hauling in 37 passes for 439 yards and five touchdowns. He didn’t have as great of a season in 2020, but he still had 21 catches for 231 yards and two scores.
Although his production took a hit due to Iowa’s style of offense, Smith is an intriguing prospect due to his 6-foot-3 frame and ability to make contested catches. It’s also worth noting that he put up impressive numbers at the House of Athletes combine.
Smith had an 11-4 broad jump, 44-inch vertical jump, and posted 22 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. All of those would’ve been ranked in the top three for his position at last year’s NFL Combine.
We caught up with Brandon Smith to discuss his impressive performance at the HOA combine, career at Iowa, and expectations for the NFL.
The Spun: You put up some impressive numbers at the House of Athletes combine. How would you grade your performance?
Brandon Smith: I think I performed really well. Just working with Troy, our strength coach, he was on me about the vertical because I was jumping pretty well. He unlocked some stuff in me for sure.
Iowa WR Brandon Smith gets 135” on his second broad jump at the House of Athlete combine. He had a 136 on his first jump, which would’ve ranked third among receivers at the NFL combine in 2020. @BMarshall #HOAcombine pic.twitter.com/xB8QFWtkez
— Safid Deen 💯💯💯💯 (@Safid_Deen) March 5, 2021
The Spun: Iowa has always been a run-centric team. Do you feel like you didn’t get to show off your full skillset with the Hawkeyes?
BS: I think I showed my explosiveness and route-running. I was able to win one-on-one battles a lot, and I think I blocked well too.
The Spun: Do you feel like you’re one of the most underrated receivers in this draft?
BS: I feel like I’m kinda underrated, but that’s a loose term nowadays – everyone says they’re underrated. But I feel like a guy with my ability was a little limited in the pro-style offense Iowa has. I’m looking forward to tapping into everything at the next level.
The Spun: What’s your go-to route?
BS: My favorite route has to be the fade route. I love the jump ball.
— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) March 8, 2021
The Spun: Speaking of the Hawkeyes, what’s your favorite individual moment with the program?
BS: The Penn State game during my junior year. I feel like I had a monumental catch in that game. I had one also during my sophomore year against Minnesota. I knew the catch against Penn State was big, but I didn’t really understand it until I look back on it because during the game I was so focused. Unfortunately we didn’t win though, so that’s kinda bad [laughing].
The Spun: Who are some receivers you model your game after?
BS: Julio Jones. His route-running is always good. D.K. Metcalf – I used to watch him in high school and college. He’s always been so explosive, but now he’s even bigger. His style of play is physical and dominant. I also watch Calvin Ridley because when he was at Alabama his route-running was great. Those are some wide receivers I like to watch.
The Spun: Your former teammate, Tristan Wirfs, is already a Super Bowl champ. Have you been able to talk to him since?
BS: I talked to him before I even signed with Octagon because he had nothing but great things to say about his agency. But yeah, I talked to him about the process leading up to the league. Even though the training process for offensive linemen and wide receivers is different, I wanted to ask him about the mindset you need to have and how different your lifestyle is about to be.
— Brandon Smith (@_BSmith12) December 30, 2020
The Spun: Which quarterback would you love to be teammates with?
BS: To be honest, I haven’t really thought about that too much. I’m mostly just focused on the receivers because I feel like all these quarterbacks out there can sling it.
The Spun: Is there a cornerback you can’t wait to face?
BS: Jalen Ramsey because I respect how dominant he is. He’s one of the top defensive backs in the league. He’s got the right size, he’s aggressive and moves well. I think he’s the best of the best.
The Spun: Who was the best cornerback you faced during your career at Iowa?
JS: The best cornerback I faced was Denzel Ward my freshman year, but I was just getting acclimated to the game.
The Spun: What’s a valuable lesson you learned from Kirk Ferentz?
BS: Just doing the little things right. Never be too big for the little things and focus on all the details leading up to the game.
The Spun: What should NFL fans expect from Brandon Smith?
BS: A guy that’s hungry, has a chip on his shoulder, is a hard worker and will win his one-on-one matchups.
— Brandon Smith (@_BSmith12) December 27, 2020
Smith is projected to go on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. He’ll excel in an offense that plays to his strengths, which means he should be primarily used on the outside.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.