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Lee Smith: ‘Humbled’ to be a part of Patriots’ tight end crew

04.30.11 at 4:29 pm ET
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Patriots fifth-round draft pick Lee Smith just wrapped up a conference call with the media — here are a few quick highlights from the Q&A:

Thoughts on getting the call?
Oh, man. I was actually in my backyard playing baseball with my three-year-old. I got the call, and walked inside with my wife and it’s a dream come true. You know, my father played in the NFL. It’s been a dream of mine my whole life to play at the highest level of competition in this sport, and just to get that opportunity and to be able to bring my son and my daughter and my wife along for the ride, it’s just so humbling and so rewarding, I can’t explain the emotions that went through my body.

How did your father help you through this process, being that he went through it as a professional?
My Dad actually passed away last year, but throughout my whole life, he prepared me mostly for the mental aspect of the next level. He always told me that it’s pretty much even ground as far as the physical attributes go. Once you get to that next level, as long as you continue to work hard and be as mentally strong as you can be, then you have a good chance to get through it. Every step of the way that I’ve gone through in my athletic career to this point he had already gone through, so having him there to kind of lean on and ask questions when something would go wrong or something would go right, have him there to say, ‘This is how I handled it,’ and maybe I should have handled it different. Having his help was something that I’d never take for granted and something I wish I had today. I wish I could call him and talk about being a Patriot.

Walk us through the move from Tennessee to Marshall?
Yes ma’am. I’d known coach Fulmer my whole life. My Dad played for coach Fulmer at Tennessee. It was kind of a no-brainer situation for me. I was raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, here where I’m living now with my family. That where was where I always wanted to play college football. There was a bump in the road, and it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me. I ended up moving to Marshall, met a lot of great people, a lot of great men in my life that helped me become a man. I had my two children there. Me and my wife got married while I was at Marshall. I think something that seemed to be a negative at the time turned into a very great positive. I don’t think I’d be a Patriot right now if it wouldn’t have happened.

What did you think of the New England tight ends last year?
It fires me up to see two and three and four tight end sets on the field. It’s very special when a team can do that. It definitely makes mismatches. I think Hernandez and Gronkowski and Crumpler, they are all very different players, but at the same time, with all three of them on the field, it’s a nightmare for a defensive coordinator for any team in he NFL. I’m humbled to be put in a group with those three guys, and I’m excited to kind of pick their brains and hopefully get a little knowledge from each one of them. I know Crumpler’s been in the league for a long time — I remember watching him when I was a young kid. It’s very humbling to get to play beside him, and like I said, I’m excited to take all I can from him and the other two guys as far as their experiences as rookies.

Do you feel you could serve as a long snapper in the National Football League?
Well, a guy named Mike Bartum actually played tight end at Marshall, I think he was in New England for a little while. He did it for a long time in the league — I think he was in the league for 13 or 14 years, and at that position, it can add two or three years to a players’ football career. I feel like anything that allows me to play in the National Football League an extra year is worth working at every day. That’s been my passion my whole life — I love playing football. I love the competition. I love the cameraderie. I will say that if there’s someone in New England who cam get me right n my long snapping, I definitely could use a tweak on it here and there, that’s something I could definitely learn to do. If there’s an extra tight end on the roster, I feel like he could also be your long snapper. It adds a roster spot or someone else. So it could be nothing but helpful to me and the Patriots.

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