Antonio Smith

Walk-on from Columbus Beechcroft High School who became a starter at cornerback on the 2006 Buckeye team that won the Big Ten and played for the BCS National Championship.
Today: Smith is on the roster of the National Football League's Indianapolis Colts. He spent the 2007-08 season on injured reserve.

Why did you decide to walk on at Ohio State?
It was a goal of mine to continue playing football on the collegiate level. After my senior year I had some offers from smaller schools-Division II programs and smaller Division I programs. I had a lot of contact with Mid-American Conference schools like Ohio University and Akron, but it wasn't clear what they were offering. I had some contact with Hawai'i, but that didn't work out. Once I got into the Young Scholars program at Ohio State I got in contact with (then Buckeye defensive coordinator) Mark Dantonio. I sent him some game file and he gave me the opportunity to come to fall camp in 2002.

How were things in the beginning for you?
The first day we got to camp, it was just the freshmen, and we had to do pre-tests with the strength staff. We did a number of drills to give the coaches a sense of where you stood athletically. I did the short-shuttle drill and ran one of the fastest times. The response from my teammates really uplifted me and gave me an extra boost that helped me feel like I belonged here.

Is it hard to move from walk-on to starter?
You definitely have to work twice as hard to get noticed and get established. You aren't necessarily going to be someone who gets watched regularly, so you have to make sure you stand out. But once you get established and get that respect, you know the coaches will consider you just like everyone else.

How difficult was it to balance football and working in a rigorous curriculum like mechanical engineering?
If it were easy, everyone would do it. I just rose to the challenge. It was definitely tough, but it just goes back to hard work, discipline, and determination. I had my goals and I was going to do whatever I could to accomplish them.

You signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent after the 2007 college football season. Is it comparable to joining the Buckeyes as a walk-on?
It's full circle almost all over again. I feel I can play and compete at this level, just like I felt I could play and compete at Ohio State. I just have to dig down within myself because I know I have the ability. I'm 100 percent healthy now, so I just want to get on the field and compete, then earn a spot and produce and perform.