Former Western Kentucky University offensive lineman Adam Smith had to wait an extra day, but he found a professional home Sunday morning by signing a free agent deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“It’s been a roller coaster for sure,” Smith said. “You try not to think about it as much as possible, but once it gets close to the end of the draft, you start – I don’t know if worrying is the right word – but you get anxious.
“It’s definitely exciting to have it official and see all of the hard work come to fruition.”
The 6-foot-5-inch, 325-pound Smith helped lead an offensive line that paved the way for standout WKU running backs Antonio Andrews and Bobby Rainey. He was a first-team all-Sun Belt Conference selection in 2012.
During his time on the Hill, the Hilltoppers became one of five programs in NCAA history to produce a 1,500-yard rusher in three straight seasons. Smith played in 48 career games, missing just one contest in 2010.
He watched the NFL draft conclude Saturday, and after no free agent deal was made that night, Smith got the call he’d been waiting for at about 8 a.m. Sunday.
“It all moves so fast, man, and we missed a couple of opportunities there,” Smith said. “We thought we missed out (Saturday) night, and I was going to go to Tampa Bay as an unsigned guy and fight for a contract. But I woke up this morning, and my agent said they wanted to give me a contract.”
Smith is one of three WKU players to join an NFL team through the draft or a free agent contract. Defensive end Quanterus Smith was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the fifth round, and tight end Jack Doyle landed with the Tennessee Titans in free agency.
“When we got there, it was rough,” Smith said of his WKU career. “We were going through the transition and trying to become a I-A team, and while we fell short on some of the goals, we did some good things.
“I’m glad me, Jack and Q get the opportunity and can represent the school that’s been our home for so many years.”