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Tykee Smith Explains Why He’s Mentally Ready for NFL at Combine



Tykee Smith at NFL Combine

After growing up in Philadelphia, Pa., starting his college career at WVU and then being surrounded by pro players at Georgia, Tykee Smith is now poised to take what he learned throughout his entire football journey with him to the NFL.

WV Sports Now was able to talk with the former Mountaineer for the second time in a month on Friday at the NFL Combine. And just like when we spoke with him at the Senior Bowl, Smith sounds confident his game can translate well to the next level.

Smith’s experience at the Senior Bowl, where he was named the American Team MVP, fueled his confidence even more. “Being able to go out there and compete. And show counts I can play high safety. I showed a little bit of that at Georgia,” said Smith about the Senior Bowl and what he was able to show scouts.

While Smith expressed his appreciation for West Virginia last month, he believes Georgia developed him into a player ready to excel on Sundays, both physically and mentally.

“I think Georgia developed me mentally just showing me all the stuff outside of football. I think I was a real good football player when I transferred in, so them being able to show me the mental side of how to handle the meetings, the long meetings that we do, the walk throughs, all the stuff outside of football,” explained Smith. He even credited the Bulldogs for molding the person he is today.

“They helped me be able to handle yourself like a young man and help me become the best version of myself.”

The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Smith left Morgantown after the 2020 season still a teenager and now looks to become a professional as a 22-year-old grown man.

Despite still believing transferring was the right decision for his life and career, Smith still respected where his college career started when he announced his plans to enter the NFL Draft. Smith then explained why he still holds the fact that he was once a West Virginia Mountaineer in high regard and why he felt the need to recognize the WVU program in his post.

“Definitely appreciate them (WVU) giving me the opportunity to come in my freshman year and take off from there and them (WVU) believing in me. I saw West Virginia’s staff out here yesterday so I said ‘what’s up?’ to them and talked to them. I hadn’t talked to them since I hit the portal so it was good to talk to them. So it was a good time seeing them,” said Smith.

As a Mountaineer, Smith earned Freshman All-American status in 2019 and was a second-team All-Big 12 player in 2020.

Tykee Smith Explains True Feelings About WVU, Why Versatility Will Serve Him in NFL

But no matter where his journey ends, Smith is trying to appreciate the journey, a journey that started at WVU, led him to Georgia and will likely end in the NFL, and take things day by day.

“What I appreciate the most about the Senior Bowl is being able to showcase my talent on this stage and then being able to represent one last time in the right way.”

Smith is coming off his best individual season statistically, recording 70 total tackles, four picks and two pass deflections. The Philadelphia, Pa. native feels he was finally able to put his true ability on display. After transferring from WVU, Smith missed most of the 2021 season with an injury and even played sparingly in 2022. So even though 2023 did not end in a Georgia nation championship like each of his first two years as a Bulldog, this past season proved the most for Smith.

And Smith believes his game translates well to the NFL. To that end, he described himself as being “a physical player and a dog” while also having “a real good football IQ” and being coachable and ready “to come in and give it all I got” on any NFL team.

The clip below shows Smith in action during a practice at the Senior Bowl.

Alan Saunders provided reporting from Indianapolis, Ind. at the NFL Combine 

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