You could say that. Even more so this season, for both on and off the field. Professional athletes are usually creatures of routine.
Telvin Smith is no different, and he knows it’s those tweaks and improvements in those routines each year that makes the difference when it matters.
Smith, the 25-year-old linebacker from Valdosta, Georgia, starts his offseason mornings one of two ways. He either eats breakfast and lifts, or he runs before breakfast. Smith usually doesn’t let his workout exceed more than an hour and fifteen minutes, concluding each morning session with a smoothie.
“I feel like you can get everything you need to get done in a hour,” Smith said, who sprints for 30 minutes or a bit longer for a tempo workout. But ladies, you won’t catch him shirtless and drenched in sweat for very long.
“That’s the biggest pet peeve of mine, after that I probably grab lunch,” he said. If he’s back home, he usually passes time spending it with his family and kids. When he’s in Jacksonville he’s probably catching a flick, whether it’s “Captain America: Civil War,” his favorite movie of the summer, or Andrew Luck’s reads and tendencies. Usually, he goes by himself to the theater.
The third-year linebacker out of Florida State has grown into a verbal leader on the defense, so you can understand the appeal of some quiet time. Smith’s favorite all-time movies are “Lion King” and “Friday.” Come this season, he knows his commitment to game film is going to make a difference.
“If we have what we need to master down, it doesn’t matter what the offense will do,” he said. “But I’m really focusing and learning how to watch better film on other teams more so than what we do.”
It’s not like he hasn’t been watching boatloads of game tape his whole career. He’s just ready for more. Now, he’s seasoned and poised to take the next step.
“Play recognition, formation recognition and understanding game situations. That’s where I really need to grow in order to take that next step as a player,” he said.
It’s along the same lines of why we will see quarterback Blake Bortles audible much more than his first two years. They are each in NFL 301 instead of 101. You’ll hear announcers refer to them as veterans for the first time.
The film study may be something Smith enjoys, but the wakeups during the regular season garner much less appreciation. Smith usually wakes up around 9:30 or 10 in the offseason, but has to wake up at 6 a.m. to eat breakfast before the team’s mandatory workouts. One thing that gets him through his workouts is music.
“That’s one of the biggest things. I don’t have a choice but to get up early,” he said. “Music and what you work out to is just as important as the lifting, because most of the time, the music that you work out to is the same thing you listen to before games to get your mind right.”
Smith listens to a lot of Southern rap. Mostly from the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Early T.I., Gucci Mane and Pastor Troy are what he usually listens to before games.
“As a matter of fact, I just asked them (the Jaguars) to start playing Pastor Troy before the game,” said Smith, referring to Pastor Troy’s sort of stadium anthem, “We Ready.”
During the regular season most of his meals come from the team buffet. He’s a giant Firehouse fan, and a sub fan in general. For finer dinning, he likes Ship 2 Shore, a seafood place in Southside, but he gets steak there a lot too.
For the other parts of his days, Smith is a self-described homebody, either in his hometown or in Jacksonville. He does get in video game tournaments with teammates from time to time, and claims he’s the former Madden champ. Smith has recently picked up going to the gun range, and to get out of his house, he also will hit the St. John’s Town Center.
One of the giant benefits of being from the South and playing in Florida for so long is his tolerance for the heat.
“The heat outside is one thing that you can never be in perfect shape for, I’d say. No matter how good of shape you are in, on a humid day you’re going to feel it,” he said.
There’s really no way to prepare for it, besides to practice in it. Smith does acknowledge that the amount of Southern or even Florida-grown players on the team will help their overall reaction to that heat during the first couple months of the season, especially since the Jaguars play Green Bay and Baltimore early in the season.
Smith was featured at number 83 on the NFL Network’s countdown of the top 100 players this season, and he’s firmly entrenched in the national spotlight at this point. After football, you might see him pop up as a movie critic, but for now and throughout the season, it’s time to dive even deeper into that game film.
It hasn’t been the smoothest ride for the team over the last couple of seasons, but Smith may have taken some advice from one of his favorite movies, “The Lion King.”
“You can either run from the past or learn from it.”