"For every one of me, there are a million other people in my situation," Smith said. "Like with my mom, there's a million of her, a million other women making mistakes, being in relationships they probably shouldn't be in, and there's a kid that has to help his family, [has to] make a decision whether to be positive or turn his back and go the wrong way. When you're an athlete, it gets more attention. ... There might be a kid who [hears my story] and goes a certain way."

Smith has spent the past few months in Miami, working out with other clients of his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, trying to refine the nuances of his game. He has talked with Chad Ochocinco and Donte' Stallworth about route running, lifted weights with Lardarius Webb and caught passes from Detroit Lions quarterback Drew Stanton. Every morning, he would roll out of bed at 7 a.m., determined to do everything possible to prepare for the next level.

At night, when other guys would hit up South Beach, he would head back to his room to goof around on Twitter or play video games.

"It's just my way to relax and not think about anything," Smith said.

Smith said he has received a lot of positive feedback from NFL teams about his upbringing, and that general managers and coaches seem to understand his experiences are proof he can handle just about anything thrown at him, and that he won't be a headache for an organization.

"They just know I don't get caught up in any off-the-field stuff," Smith said, adding that his family is doing well these days. "I think they understand I'm not going to get in any trouble, and that's a big deal for teams these days. They don't want to have to deal with any of that."

Hortiz said Smith's back story is something teams will take into account, and almost universally look at as a positive.

"I think it creates a comfort level with him," Hortiz said. "You say 'Hey, this kid has been through a lot already.' He has maturity in a way of handling things. He may hit a bump in the road, and who knows what it will be. But he'll be the type of guy who is going to handle it well."

kvanvalkenburg@baltsun.com

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