Smallwood says he’s the best linebacker for 2014

Story posted April 18, 2014 in Sports, CommRadio, NFL Draft by Patrick Woo

The University of Connecticut is fresh off of the men’s and women’s basketball national championships but it’s more than a basketball school.

“Football players are making a name for themselves now,” said Yawin Smallwood, UConn Football’s leading tackler two years in a row.

Smallwood, a three-year starter, is skipping his senior season in favor of entering the 2014 NFL Draft.

“I felt like if I was going to go through another coaching change, then why not it be in the NFL,” Smallwood said. “It was just the right time.”

Smallwood will be following the footsteps of Sio Moore, who was the leader of the UConn linebacker corps last season and had an outstanding rookie season for the Oakland Raiders after being drafted in the third round.

He compares favorably to Moore with his athleticism, speed, vision, demeanor and ability to cover receivers and tailbacks.

When thinking of a school that has sent numerous defensive players to the NFL in recent years, UConn is not one that comes to mind. But the Huskies had four defensive players drafted last year alone.

“We all play with chips on our shoulders,” Smallwood said about the UConn defense being overlooked. “Anyone who’s watched us over the last couple years knows there were some dogs out there on the field and we can compete with anybody.”

Smallwood had to compete hard just to earn playing time after redshirting his freshman season because of the level of talent at linebacker in front of him. Moore and Trevardo Williams were both linebackers drafted last season from UConn.

“I just followed guys’ steps,” Smallwood said. “I just wanted to go out there and compete with those guys and takes notes on what they did.”

Now, Smallwood wants to follow in the footsteps on Moore, who has had the most success of the recently drafted Huskies and was a mentor for him. He already possesses two big qualities Moore had – passion and confidence.

“There’s no doubt that I’m the number one linebacker in this draft in my opinion,” he said.

Patrick Woo is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email pww5053@psu.edu.