Russell Edgar Smith was born on January 28, 1987 in Jacksonville, Florida. Guess what that means? The first starting quarterback from Jacksonville that came from the 2010 draft to start will be Rusty Smith.......not Tim Tebow. Speaking of Tebow, Smith and Tebow attended First Baptist Church in downtown Jacksonville when they were in high school . Both know each other and have worked out together.
Rusty Smith was a four-year starter at Florida Atlantic University, and he is the leading passer in both school and Sun Belt conference history, with a statline of 10,112 yards and 76 touchdowns. Smith became the first player ever drafted out of Florida Atlantic when the Titans selected him in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. FAU has had a football team for only seven years, and the Rusty Smith-led Owls were the youngest college football program to ever receive an invitation to, and subsequently win a bowl game. In the 2008 Motor Bowl, Smith got MVP honors with 20/35, 306 yards and 2 touchdowns. In 2009, he only managed to play seven games due to an injury to his left shoulder. It is believed by scouts that if he had managed to stay healthy, he would have risen in position considerably in the draft.
It's notable that Smith played for the legendary Howard Schnellenberger at FAU, who has coached QBs such as Joe Namath, Vinny Testaverde, Bernie Kosar, Jim Kelly, Brian Griese, (including being Dolphins OC for the perfect season in '72) and many more over the course of his legendary career.
Smith was one of the 30 draft prospects who made a visit to the Titans prior to the draft.
Some highlights from his pre-draft ESPN scouting report:
- Named FAU team MVP in 2008. Took responsibility for poor play during the first half of the 2008 season despite playing hurt and bounced back to finish the season strong.
- Questionable overall poise. Takes too many chances and can throw the ball up for grabs when he feels pressure closing in. Is not afraid to throw across body while rolling out but sometimes puts too much faith in his arm strength. On the flip side, he is a tough competitor who plays with emotion and is willing to take the big hit if it means completing the pass.
- Ball explodes off his hand but his funky, three-quarter, wind-up release makes it easier for defensive linemen to get their hands up in throwing lanes. Can drift to the side when releasing the ball and the imbalance can affect accuracy.
- Can get outside the pocket and throws well on the run but doesn't show the ability to sidestep pressure in the pocket with any consistency. While he fights for yards after contact when he scrambles he is not much of a home run threat.
"I feel that I have been in a pro style offense from high school until college. Every system that I have ever played in was a pro style offense. I have been under center my entire career. I’m very good at I think reading defenses from under center and dropping back from under center. I will do whatever the coaches ask me to do."
- Rusty Smith
I fell in love with him when I watched his technique. His feet are always underneath him. He can get rid of it from any place he needs to. He makes all the throws, deep and short. He’s one of the few guys that has taken snaps consistently from underneath the center. He’s been in the gun and underneath but it has been a pro style and taking snaps from under the center...he can throw if from everywhere. The thing that really got me was his feet. He slides in his pocket well. He’s a true pocket quarterback. He can make all the throws.
- Mike Heimerdinger
Whoever the quarterback is going to be or however it turns out, I'm pretty sure I'll believe in Rusty."
- Chris Johnson