SUNY athletic departments strive to provide preparation and knowledge to succeed at the next level. Throughout SUNY’s 64 campuses, they provide collegiate athletic programs ranging from Division III, up to Division I. Being able to make it to the next level after playing college ball is an achievement, but talent is not the only thing needed in order to achieve success. SUNY allows students to not only be physically ready for the next level, but mentally as well. Many SUNY colleges are nationally ranked for their education, and this provides that extra edge needed to accomplish goals at the next level.
Athletes work harder and harder every year, and our athletic programs grow because of it. Recently, SUNY football has had some collegiate players attempt success on the next level. Miguel Maysonet, a recent Stony Brook Alum, achieved many awards throughout his time in Stony Brook. One of these prestigious awards was the “All Purpose Award” within his conference.
Drew Smith, a former University at Albany running back who decided to pursue his dream of making it to the NFL, agreed to talk with us and tell us a bit about how his time in college football compared and helped him with his journey to the NFL.
The move from college to pro
Playing at the NFL level has its major differences when being compared to college football. The experience received at the college level does factor in and help a player progress into the next level. We asked Drew Smith how his experience was, and how exactly it differed from the NFL:
“It was a blast, playing under Coach Ford was an honor. I was lucky enough to win a couple Conference championships there too. It definitely differs from NFL programs, the talent in the NFL is out of this world. Everyone is extremely talented. The main difference is the speed of the game, adjusting to the speed is the hardest part. Playbooks are the same and that wasn’t difficult to adjust. I have seen similar size guys, but not guys that can move that quickly.”
SUNY tries to prepare its athletes as best as possible if they were to choose to continue their athletic careers. We asked, did the University at Albany prepare you for the next level?
“Absolutely, scheduling CAA teams definitely helped me adjust, they are harder teams and that worked out well for me. Our coaching staff and Bob Ford knew exactly what they were doing. Coach Ford is a genius and helped me out a ton.”
Being a rookie and adjusting to a new program is very difficult. Making the leap to an NFL program takes time to adjust. What is it like being a rookie in training camp?
“It was definitely tough, but fun at the same time. Of course I had to go through rookie initiations like eating a couple of gross things, and doing rookie talent shows, but I understand it. I understand NFL teams are fraternities. Even with all of the rookie stuff every player does take you seriously. They respect you and are trying to do the same thing you are, trying to feed their families. Overall it was tough, but obviously I had a lot of fun at the same time.”
Every young kid playing football dreams of one day playing in the NFL. There is no other realization than signing an actual contract. What does it feel like to sign an NFL contract?
“Surreal, not really something I can explain with words. As a kid you dream of playing in the NFL, once you get that phone call it really is out of this world. Complete shock. I was able play a kids game for a living, and do what I love every single day.”
Laying out goals for yourself is extremely important. Striving to meet and surpass those goals keep players going. Do you have any upcoming goals for yourself Drew?
“Playing in the NFL is hard; making it there is no joke. The hardest part is staying in the NFL. After you get the first taste it’s always a goal to keep playing. The average player survives about 3.7 years in the NFL, my goal is to beat that, and make a name for myself.”
Finally, with the experience in hand of getting to that next level, Is there any advice you can give to aspiring NFL athletes?
“My main advice is to make sure you work hard. You want to make as many great relationships as possible and be close with your teammates. These guys are constantly in the media talking to everyone and giving interviews. Be kind, do nice things and make a name for yourself. But the main thing is to ALWAYS work hard.”
We continue to root for SUNY athletes to succeed at the next level. SUNY will always prepare student athletes for the best and help them achieve their goals!