Derrell Smith is one cool cat. He’s a friendly dude, considers it an honor to don the orange and a hell of a linebacker. Solid rep for the ‘Cuse. The Fizz caught up with him at Big East Media Days in Newport a few weeks ago.
You like the public declaration by Marrone that a bowl game is the goal?
“Yeah. It’s like a call to action. He’s setting the guidelines and now we gotta go out and do it.”
Is it strange at Media Days to pal around with all your opponents?
“It really is, you gotta make friends with people you’re trying to beat on the field.”
How difficult was it to survive the first summer under Marrone?
“It was very tough, as far as the whole mindset he brought with him. It was toughness, mental toughness, physical toughness. The people that weren’t up for it, left. You see the defense went from 119th to top tier in the country at some points. We had a lot of tough people on the defense. The whole mentality he brought here just changed the program right there.”
Smith said it wasn’t difficult to watch Groobers leave – the coach that recruited him. Just a business. Why? Because Smith didn’t come to the 315 for Greg Robinson. He came because he grew up an Orange fan.
“The tradition. I’m probably the biggest Donovan McNabb fan in the whole world. I grew up a Philadelphia fan. A McNabb fan. I can’t wait to put (the new jerseys) on. I might just cross out the 2 and just go with 5. I’m just playin’. It’s definitely an honor to play here.”