Vikings Safety Harrison Smith Unfiltered

It’s been over two decades since Joey Browner’s Hall of Famer caliber career ended with the Vikings. While their have been some standout players in the secondary since then - Orlando Thomas, Antoine Winfield, Darren Sharper, among others - the team has always lacked an intimidating presence; the type of guy who makes wide receivers look over their shoulder instead of at the ball.

That changed in 2012 when Harrison Smith took the field. An instant starter in a demanding position, Smith hits hard, covers a lot of ground and has shown an offensive player’s instincts when he gets his hands on the ball. The second year safety and I chatted recently at Winter Park.

DZ: You have a pretty young secondary right now, you are in your second year. Do you feel like you have to step up and take more of a leadership role this year?

SMITH: Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of leaders on our defense all around. I think there’s just a lot of leadership in that room altogether. I think Jamarca (Sanford) is definitely our guy we look to for vocal support. He’s the oldest guy; he’s got the most experience. He’s a guy that we all look to and then it’s kind of personal responsibility of guys kind of taking leadership roles.

DZ: What’s the biggest difference coming in for your second year versus your rookie year?

SMITH: You just have more experience and know a little bit what to expect. Seeing teams in the division two times a year is big and gets you more familiar with them.

DZ: Playing safety, how does your role change on passing downs versus running downs?

SMITH: You really don’t know going into the play – we might have an idea or a key on what tendencies they have, but you don’t know if it’s going to be a run or pass on any down. Just reading your keys and knowing what to do.

DZ: You play in the NFC North, so there is a lot of passing…would you like to play more running teams….what is your favorite thing to do?

SMITH: The reason I like safety so much is because you get to do it all. If I was just in the box all of the time, I would miss playing deep, if I was deep all of the time, I would miss coming down. I like doing it all.

DZ: How about trying to tackle Adrian?

SMITH: I am glad I don’t have to that, that’s for sure (laughs).

DZ: I read that you graduated early from Notre Dame and then your (senior) year, you entered a graduate program. Is that something that you look towards finishing when you are done playing?

SMITH: I was really just taking some classes that I wanted to take. I wasn’t necessarily working toward a graduate degree. That might be something that I look into in the future though.

DZ: One last thing, Notre Dame had kind of a tough loss against Michigan the other night, what do you think of their prospects this season.

SMITH: There is always going to be some tough games. There is always big time, national games on TV, so there is a lot of pressure playing there, but I think those guys are going to bounce back.

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