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Guard ready for NFL draft eager to explain blood clot issue

Trey Smith has no problem explaining his situation, no matter how many times he has to detail his history of blood clots. The Tennessee guard wants to ensure no NFL coach or general manager has unanswered questions about his availability to play before the upcoming draft. “I’ll explain it a million times if I have to,” Smith said. “Because it’s just something unique. It’s different. I want to play football at a high level. I want to go to the NFL, so I have no issue helping people understand what I went through and making them comfortable with it.”

The 6-foot-5, 321-pound Smith played 42 games at Tennessee even while dealing with his condition.

Blood clots in his lungs kept him out of spring practice in 2018, but blood thinners allowed him to return eventually. He missed the final five games that season when doctors worried Smith had a recurrence of blood clots before extended testing made them confident that hadn’t happened.

Doctors and specialists put together a plan and medications that allowed him to start 12 of 13 games in 2019 at left guard, and he earned first-time All-Southeastern Conference honors.

Smith was confident enough in the plan that he played in each of the Vols’ 10 games during the 2020 season instead of opting out during the pandemic. He also was All-SEC for a second straight season.

That’s why Smith has no concerns about being able to play in the NFL. He says teams that do their research will understand, especially if they talk to the doctors and specialists Smith went across the country to see.

“They’ll sort of see the plan we have set and (have) a lot more confidence in it,” Smith said. “I know that’s something we haven’t been completely open about due to my privacy. But at the end of the day, it’s a plan that will not only sustain itself in the NFL but also have a lot of success.”

NFL scouts and coaches got a closer look at Smith at the Senior Bowl in January and Tennessee’s pro day in March. Before the Senior Bowl, Smith got some feedback from former Tennessee offensive lineman Ramon Foster, who played 11 seasons at guard with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“So just being able to communicate with him, and just get knowledge and information from a veteran that played in the NFL that long, I mean, I want to soak it up like a sponge, man,” Smith said.

Teams have talked with Smith about playing tackle and guard and whether he prefers the left or right side. At Tennessee’s pro day, he ran a 5.1-second 40-yard dash, had a 31-inch vertical leap, and did the three-cone drill in 7.43 seconds to show off his athleticism.

Smith also bench-pressed 225 pounds 32 times, raising over $4,100 for Uplifting Athletes to help people with rare diseases. He wound up doing two more reps than he hoped for, inspired by people he trained with.“For them, it means the world,” Smith said. “But for us as athletes, with our platform, I think it’s something we should do.”

That’s nothing new for Smith, who won the Torchbearer Award for serving Tennessee excellently. Smith also joined fellow athletes in leading an anti-racism march on campus last August.

Still, the first and biggest question about Smith is his health.

“Hopefully, it will be a way to pioneer ground for people with my issues, that have blood-clotting issues and things of that nature,” Smith said. “Then you look at people like David Andrews, Russell Okung, who’ve been playing and had very similar issues that I’ve had. We’re talking about very high-level offensive linemen.”

And Smith wants to be the next.

Follow Teresa M. Walker at https://twitter.com/TeresaMWalker.

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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