Brandon Smith Interview

Thanks for taking the time Brandon, tell us what you’ve been up to.

I’m not sure if a lot of people know, but I was involved in a very serious car accident on September 29, 2007. I was hospitalized for five days, suffered a dislocated hip and was out of work for a month. I want to let everyone know that I am on my way to a full recovery. I just want to thank everyone for keeping me in their prayers, it definitely helped. I have been recently cleared by my doctor and my physical therapist and am beginning to get back to my old self. If God permits, I would like to be running routes and catching passes again on some professional level. But right now I am enjoying teaching and coaching wide receivers at my alma mater, St. Augustine High School in New Orleans.

Who or what inspired you to become a teacher and coach?

My ultimate goal is to be a coach on the college or professional level. I see this as a stepping stone to bigger and better things in the future as far as coaching is concerned. Teaching is just a way of me giving back to the high school that gave so much to me. I feel that these young men need young, positive role models that they can look up to because not all of them have father figures at home.

Do you think you are healthy enough to give the NFL another shot or have you considered the AAFL?

I’m definitely a few months away from being healthy enough to give pro football another shot. I most certainly want to and it is definitely something that I plan to do. Before the accident, I was trying to get a workout set up with the AAFL. A few of my former teammates for both high school and college we selected in the AAFL’s draft and also in supplementary drafts. I figure that might be my best bet. When I do come back though, I want to make sure that I am on top of my game. Not being able to do anything these past few months have made me a little rusty, lol. But I figure that if you got it, the only thing that can stop you is age and being that I just turned 24 in November, I’m still pretty young.

What made you decide to come to Vanderbilt over other schools that were recruiting you?

There were only two Division I schools recruiting me after my senior season in high school, Vanderbilt and Tulane. Both schools similar in the academic realm, but there were two deciding factors that made me choose Vanderbilt. The first reason was the chance to play football in the best athletic conference in the country, the SEC. The second reason was that I wanted to go to school out of state.

What are you most proud of from your time at Vanderbilt?

The thing that I am most proud of during my time at Vanderbilt was that I was able to receive my degree from one of the best academic schools in the country (at least last time I checked)

Where was the toughest place to play?

The toughest places to play had to be between Florida and South Carolina. It was extremely loud in these two stadiums. Even so, SEC football is very big and every road game was a hostile environment (e.g. LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, etc.)

What do you remember about the MTSU game your freshman year? That was the lowest I’ve ever been as a Commodore fan.

The thing that I remember the most about the MTSU game in 2001 was that I was excited about having the opportunity to play as a freshman. As the game went on though, I began to get anxious and upset that I wasn’t getting any playing time. I remember there was about 10 or 15 seconds left in the game and I had already began to take some of my tape off when I could hear the coaches calling for me. My thought process was “why do you want me to play now? I could have made tons of plays earlier that might have put us in a better position to win the game.” Even though it was my first college game, it was very frustrating.

The next week we played Alabama right to the very end. We wound up losing by 3 after missing a 35 yard field goal with a minute to go. What do you remember about that game?

I looked at the Alabama game the following we as sort of a coming out party for me. I was able to showcase some of my abilities and let the coaches know that I could make plays to help the team. I was upset that we lost the game, but I was pleased with my performance.

The 2004 Rutgers game was also heartbreaking. You had over 100 yards that night but still came up short after we blew a 24 point lead. We looked to have had a chance to win when Cutler hit Marlon White with that bomb that was called back. Looking back now I’d bet you give up all those stats for a W.

It’s funny that you ask this question about the Rutgers game and about me giving up my stats for the win. It’s funny because out of every interview that I ever did during my career at Vanderbilt, no one ever asked me that question, even though I thought they would. The Rutgers game was a very tough loss. I had a great game and thought that we would walk out with the W. In response to your question, I would have definitely given up some or all of my stats for a win, as I would have done in any game that we played. I know it sounds a little crazy but all I wanted to do was win by any means necessary.

Do you think Jay was past the line of scrimmage when he threw that last pass?

We got a chance to look at the play on film the next day and I didn’t think that Jay was past the line of scrimmage.

Now onto happier times, 2003 Kentucky was a great win. I remember I was one of the crazy fans trying to tear the goal posts down. What do you remember about that game?

I remember that it was very cold that day. I think I only had one catch that game but it didn’t really matter because we got the win. All I can remember was being behind Jay in the “victory” formation as time ran out and all the fans ran onto the field, I also remember my younger brother and my dad running out onto the field as well. It was just a great feeling.

Your last game as a Commodore was also your best. We lost another heartbreaker to UT on Senior Day, which was your birthday. You had 160 yards receiving that day. We were in it until 2 minutes to go when they picked Jay off. I thought that was going to be the game where we finally beat UT. What sticks out to you from that game?

Before each game, I try to envision myself making plays for my team. I thought that day was going to be special for me because it was Senior Day, my 21st birthday, and it was going to be my last home game as a Commodore. I definitely wanted to go out on a high note, but I never thought I’d have a blowout game like that. It was almost like I gave myself a birthday present. The best present would have been beating UT though.

The very next year we finally beat the Vols. Where were you on November 22, 2005?

I was actually in Nashville when that happened. My family had evacuated New Orleans after Katrina and was in Tyler, TX at that time. I had just been released by the Giants about a week before Katrina hit. Tyler was a little small for me and after a workout with the Falcons, a workout with the Packers, and a second workout with the Falcons, I decided to move back to Nashville and live with my roommates from my senior year, Jason Burns, Erik Davis, Ron Bullock, and Tim Miller. The guys were in Knoxville of course, but I stayed at home and watched the game on TV. I was one of the first people to greet the team when they returned on the busses. I felt like the team gave me a late birthday present

Thanks again Brandon for taking the time to talk to us. Is there anything else you’d like to say to all of you Commodore friends and fans out there?

I just want to thank my former coaches and teammates for all of the memories.