Cameron Smith arrived at Hoag Performance Center with the same determination that put him on the map at USC.
It’s that type of laser focus and grit that made Smith such a decorated inside linebacker during his time with the Trojans, and why he attacked the Chargers’ local pro day as if he was suiting up for the Rose Bowl.
Simply put, Smith will do whatever it takes to prove his worth to NFL evaluators.
To that end, it’s been a whirl-wind few months for USC’s two-time captain. It began at the Senior Bowl, where Smith logged three tackles to help the North team to victory. It was then onto the Combine, where he ranked fourth among all linebackers in the vertical jump (39.0), tied for the fifth-best broad jump for LBs (10’3”) and tied for eighth at position for the 20-yard shuttle (4.23).
Since then he’s performed at his school’s pro day while also making visits coast to coast to prospective NFL teams.
However, while he’s showcased his talents several times this offseason, there was nothing quite like taking the field with the Chargers’ coaches.
“It was super cool,” he said. “It’s always a great experience getting to work with some of these guys who do it at a high level, so it was really fun. I’m glad to be here…. I talked to (the Chargers) at the Senior Bowl briefly, but this is really the first time since then we’ve been in contact.”
Thursday was also an important day for Smith as he believes he’s an ideal fit at Mike linebacker for the Bolts.
“It would be great (to be a Charger),” he admitted. “I think it’s such a great place to be, and you all saw the year they had this last year. And then to play with Uchenna (Nwosu) again would be really cool…I think that I can bring the mental side of the game better (than most), so being the Mike backer (in this system) with the green dot and being able to run the defense, that’s where I’m most comfortable. I think that I’ve put together four productive years at USC, and I’m looking forward to an opportunity to showcase that, and show that my mental side of the game is beyond other people’s.”
That falls in line with what pundits say about the 6-2, 238-pound linebacker.
Nearly every single scouting report raves about Smith’s reliability, his natural football instincts and tackling prowess. Those qualities led to a ton of productivity over his years with the Trojans, including a dynamite 2017 campaign when he led the team with 112 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, three passes defensed and one interception, earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors as a junior. He also impressed a year ago while playing in just 10 games, once again leading USC with 81 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and four passes defensed.
Overall, it’s clear that Smith’s tape and production speaks for itself, which is why he’s using each opportunity he’s had these past few months to showcase the intangibles he brings into the locker room.
“(I’m) a productive guy, and a guy who’s instinctual,” he said. “Is going to walk in and you’re not going to have to correct him twice. I’m a guy who can wear the green dot and run the defense on the field. The mental side of the game that I bring, I think I can really offer a lot in that category.”
By now Smith’s done all he can to cement his case.
But is that enough to impress the Bolts and the 31 other teams?
There’s nothing for him to do now but sit back and see how it all unfolds.
“It’s been good, but (now) it’s a lot of hurry up and wait. This month is going to go really fast, so I’m just excited for the opportunity and look forward to my next step.”
The Bolts coaching staff host the 2019 prospects at Hoag Performance Center for the Chargers local pro day.