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Preston Smith Shows Defensive Versatility

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The Redskins' second-round pick, linebacker Preston Smith, began his football life as a running back. A growth spurt during the summer before his sophomore year of high school, however, pushed him onto the

Check out these photos of Mississippi State linebacker Preston Smith, the Redskins' 38th-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

defense.

"I hit a growth spurt from like 5-foot-7 to like 6-foot-2 one summer," Smith said. "Then they moved me to end from then because I had so much length on my high school team. I was coming up and still growing so they moved me to defensive end and ever since…"

Soon, his inspiration shifted from players like Redskins running back Clinton Portis to some of the top defensive players in the game.

"Ray Lewis instantly became my favorite player because of his passion for the game and how hard he was playing," Smith, who also mentioned Julius Peppers as inspiration, told The Clarion Ledger.

"A lot of people compare me to Antonio Smith," he said. "I really haven't seen him play but I try to steal stuff from every great player who has a successful pass rush, players who have done a lot of successful stuff in technique – what they do that is special. I try to pattern myself from Von Miller, I steal moves from J.J. Watt, Justin Tuck – guys who I think will fit the mold what I may potentially do. They may not be my size or body build but they're close to it to do something impossible. Some people who are smaller can get away with it."

The Stone Mountain, Ga., native is known for his versatility on the field, switching between different stances and schemes.

"We had a lot of different looks on in college playing stand-up and I was doing a lot of drops, doing a lot of different defensive looks from standing up," he said. "I feel like it'll be a great transition [to linebacker] because it's something I'm used to and I'm familiar with. It won't be hard for me to."

Want a sense of this guy's passion? How about this clip from 2013. Mississippi State was pummeling Auburn 28-10 with just 26 seconds left in the game.

It didn't matter. Smith barreled through the offensive line for a strip-sack, definitively ending the game.

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