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Dawuane Smoot, the athlete

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Part 1 of an exclusive sitdown with defensive end Dawuane Smoot. We discuss everything from offseason goals to pregame playlists.

NFL: AFC Championship-Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

You know Dawuane Smoot...

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ most recent third-round draft pick.

The once-heralded Illini prospect who, at one point, was the No. 5 overall prospect on Todd McShay’s 2016 draft board before deciding to stay in school one more year.

Yeah, that one.

But do you know this Dawuane Smoot? The budding vlogger with a YouTube channel of over 1,000 subscribers? Or the Twitch fantatic who loves challenging fans on Twitter to games of Madden, Fortnite, and PUBG?

I recently got to sit with Dawuane and discuss everything from his offseason schedule to his favorite player growing up.

Part I of this interview will focus on Dawuane the athlete — his pregame playlist, the decision to stay in school one more year, and how he makes the rest of the defensive line laugh.

Milind Mishra: How’s the offseason been so far for you? What have you been up to?

Dawaune Smoot: The offseason has been good. I’ve been down in San Francisco for the season— training since late February. It’s been a grind so far as I look to have a breakout year this coming year.

MM: Is there anything specific you’re working on? Did the coaches give you a list of things to work on during the offseason?

DS: Just to get bigger, get stronger. For me, I definitely need to get stronger in my overall strength, balance, and my core— honestly everything. That’s what I’ve tried to do every year. When I come back to Jacksonville in early April, I’m going to start getting a lot more hand work in to get ready for the season.

MM: What’s been the biggest difference between college and the NFL?

DS: You’re coming into a business. You’ve got to treat your body like a business. You can’t be too nice because you have to make sure you’re doing anything and everything to turn yourself into machine. You have to be able to perform at all points during the season, so you use the offseason to prepare for that.

MM: What are your thoughts on Coach Marrone and Coach [Marion] Hobby?

DS: I love Coach Hobby. He’s very detail oriented, especially in pass rush. He really emphasizes the little keys like hand usage and where your eyes should be. A lot of coaches don’t work on that stuff. He helped us understand that we [the defensive line] really work together, all four of us. When one person goes inside, the end will cover, the tackle will cover the end, and so on. We are all on the same page.

Coach Marrone has done an amazing job turning around the Jaguars. You know how Coach Coughlin and Marrone are. They’re hardasses but they want to see you succeed. They make you work as hard as you can. We’ll get about 100 or so reps a day [in training camp]. That’s every team, from first, second, and third, with over 100 reps so we’re prepared for the season and not tired in the fourth quarter. It’s a grind.

MM: What kind of music do you listen to before a practice, before a game, to get you in the zone?

DS: I listen to Wiz Khalifa. He’s been my favorite rapper since my freshman year of high school. All his old school albums, Cabin Fever, all the old school Wiz songs. I literally go through his albums in chronological order and work my way up before game time.

MM: Could you talk about some of the personalities along that D-line? Who’s the funniest guy on the D-line? Where do you fit in?

DS: Hands down Abe [Abry Jones]. The dude is hilarious. I don’t know if you’ve seen his Instagram stories; he’s actually out on his honeymoon right now. He’s a nonstop clown. He’s one of the guys I’m really close with. We sit right next to each other in the meeting room, just clowning around.

Overall, we’ve got a mix of personalities that mesh very well. Calais is the old head in the room. He overlooks and tries to correct everything. He tries to keep things real civil. Malik will give him all kinds of trouble. Malik talks way too much, haha. Me and Wildman [Carroll Phillips], we really mesh with the room.

MM: What’s it like having Phillips on the same team, being that you guys were teammates since 2014 and made the transition to the NFL together?

DS: It definitely helped me transition from college to the NFL, relating to someone going through the same things I was. Just having my close friend Carroll— from wrecking stuff out in Illinois to now the Jaguars— was huge for both of our developments.

MM: Speaking of new additions, how excited are you to go up against new Jaguars left guard Andrew Norwell in practice every day?

DS: I’m excited to play anybody honestly. I’m ready to get back on the field after being away for so long. The addition of Norwell is gonna be huge for us, especially in the running game. I’m out here training with [Panthers defensive end] Daeshon Hall, one of his teammates, and he told me he’s a big, nasty guy. He comes to practice every day ready to work.

MM: Is there anyone you try to emulate or pattern your game after? Who was your favorite player growing up?

DS: Julius Peppers, hands down. He’s always been my favorite player. His style of play, his tenacity out there on the field; he’s a silent giant. He goes out there, kills it, and walks off the field like it’s nothing. I look forward to seeing him this upcoming year. I watch a lot of tape on him, but the guy does things that nobody can do. You see his body shape and stuff like that; the things he does are incredible. You can try to emulate it but it’s kinda hard to.

MM: There was a lot of discussion on your decision to stay in school another year. The draft committee gave you a second round grade following the 2016 season, yet you choose to stay in school. Talk me through your thought process, and whether you would make the same decision knowing what you know now.

DS: For me, my dream has always been going in the first round, so when I put my name in the hat junior year, I was thinking about coming out. I got a second round grade. I talked to my family and I made a decision that was best for me honestly. I wanted to make sure I was a legitimate first round pick. Of course, it didn’t work out that way, but I have no regrets.

MM: What inspires you when you walk on the field? Are there any events in your past, or any people you look towards, to find the fuel to play such a demanding sport?

DS: The things that motivate me, and I have a saying for this, are just my humble beginnings. I’ve been humble throughout every process. I’ve came up through every level of football, high school through college, every new situation, on a low level. A lot of people look at me like I’m not gonna do too much. Of course you hear about it on social media. I use that all as fuel. I keep that deep down, and when I get out on the field I use it.

Part 2 will come out on Friday and focuses on Dawuane Smoot’s off-the-field endeavors.