In a somewhat surprising but not entirely unexpected move Wyoming quarterback announced on Friday evening that he will forgo his senior season and declare for the 2014 NFL Draft. There were rumors last week that Smith had submitted paperwork to have his draft status evaluated.
When Wyoming hired Craig Bohl there was some speculation that Smith may transfer. He quickly squashed that rumor by saying he was very happy in Wyoming. Transferring would have made little sense as he would have had to redshirt if he went to a FBS school. The interview with Kevin Smith (Brett's father) was careful not to specifically say if Brett would actually be at Wyoming next year.
Here is part of the official release from the University:
"After much consideration, I have decided to forgo my senior season at UW to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the National Football League," said Smith. "Wyoming has been such a special place for me and my family, and will always hold a special place in my heart.
"I’m so thankful to have played with such great guys over the past three years. I have so much respect for Coach (Craig) Bohl and know that we will be very successful at Wyoming. I appreciate him coming out and meeting with me and my family this past weekend and talking with us about his vision for the future of Cowboy Football.
"I thank my teammates, coaches, Wyoming Athletics and most of all the fans for three special years. I’ll never forget you guys. I’ll forever be a Cowboy."
Cowboy fans should not feel angry or betrayed by this decision. A large percentage of college football players have goals of playing in the NFL. Only a small percentage have the opportunity to even get a shot at the next level. Smith dedicated himself to Wyoming and owns nearly every record for a quarterback. He leaves Wyoming as the school’s all-time leader in total yardage (10,365 yards), touchdowns (97) and touchdown passes (76). He also holds the Mountain West and Wyoming record for total yards in a game (640).
There was no guarantee that his senior season would boost his draft stock. Wyoming faces a tough challenge with road games at Oregon and Michigan State. The conference schedule is not easy with a trip to Fresno and hosting Boise State and Utah State. In 2012 Smith missed a couple games due to concussions, he was able to avoid suffering any injuries this year. Concussions are huge concern today in football. One bad hit could end someone's career rather easily. He's coming off any impressive year and is healthy, hard to ask for more when entering the draft.
With the hiring of Craig Bohl as head coach, a new offense will also be installed. It certainly would not be as dynamic as Christensen's spread that Smith worked so well under. This may not be an entirely smooth process and Smith could have seen his draft potential drop.
"We wish Brett (Smith) and his family the best as he chases his dream to play at the NFL level," said Burman. "Brett has been a great ambassador for our athletics department, our university and the state of Wyoming during his time as a Cowboy. We will miss him, and I know Wyoming fans and his teammates will miss him. When he contacted me late this afternoon, he said after talking with his family he felt the time was right for him to pursue a professional career. I thanked him for letting us know as soon as he had made his decision."
Bohl and new offensive coordinator Brent Vigen traveled to Salem, OR on December 21st and 22nd to meet with Smith and his family. They also met with backup QB Jason Thompson who lives in Washington State. Smith is the first underclassmen QB to declare for the 2014 NFL Draft. By making his announcement as soon as possible it helps the staff who is busy working on the recruiting class and preparing for next season.
Wyoming already has one QB commit in Austin Fort from Gillette, WY. I would expect them to add one more to help add some depth as Thompson and freshmen Tommy Thornton are the only quarterbacks on the roster at this time.
I wish Smith all the best in his journey to the NFL. He's promised his dad that he will finish his degree. It will be exciting to see where Smith, Robert Herron and Marqueston Huff all land this year. The last two have been invited to play in the 2014 Senior Bowl. There hasn't been this much Wyoming draft excitement in quite a long time.
I'm excited for 2014: new coach, new quarterback. It just feels like this is a good time for a fresh start to this new era. Thompson possesses a tremendous skillset and it will be exciting to watch him take the reins.