DeVonta Smith: Saban Retiring “Shocking”, “Players Are Changing”

It’s the week before the Super Bowl, and Heavy Sports was able to sit down with Philadelphia Eagles star wide receiver DeVonta Smith for an exclusive interview to get his thoughts on the big game as well as some other big topics going on in the football world.

The Eagles’ season obviously came to a screeching halt when Smith and the birds lost big in the NFC Wild Card game. Since then, the media has followed stories about both a new OC and DC for the team. Smith’s storied college coach, Nick Saban, also called it quits just under a month ago. A lot is changing around the three-year wide receiver, but somehow, he keeps a level head.

When asked about Saban’s retirement, Smith said while dawning an Alabama Crimson Tide long sleeve, “It was shocking. We knew the time was going to come, but we didn’t know it was going to come that soon. Pretty much, we knew it was going to come eventually; he was getting up there in age, and times are changing. Players are changing.”

Smith’s Words Sound Similar to a Popular Sentiment Going Around College Football

One can’t help but correlate that last part of Smith’s quote to the changes with NIL. Back on January 11th, NBC’s Karris Harmon wrote a piece on college coaches saying NIL could be the reason for Saban’s retirement. In that one, Harmon quoted Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville saying, “Another generation is kind of moving on. This is a direct correlation of the NIL.” Tuberville goes on to say, “I tell you it’s going to get a lot more people. This NIL, is a detriment to college sports.”

Smith wasn’t willing to go that far. He did seem to suggest, like many have, that it’s a new generation, though. Saban himself told a story of a player asking for a half a million dollars to get his girlfriend into law school. It’s safe to say the landscape has changed from when he started coaching at University of Toledo way back in 1990.

The Eagles Are Going Through Changes as Well

That’s not all that’s changing around Smith, though. After the Eagles disappointing season, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Eagles will be bringing in Kellen Moore to be their new offensive coordinator.

Another big assistant move in Philadelphia: Eagles are hiring former Chargers and Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore as their offensive coordinator, per sources.

Eagles coordinators now will be Moore and Vic Fangio.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 28, 2024

Moore struggled in his last two seasons, one with the Cowboys and the other with the Chargers, both marred by key injuries. Though there may be some detractors, there are also those who are enthusiastic about the change like John McMullen of Sports Illustrated who wrote that “The Eagles hired a new OC in Kellen Moore who just happens to specialize in what Nick Sirianni didn’t.”

For Smith, though, it’s another day. On the topic of the coaching changes, he said, “Really just another day at the office. Football is football no matter who comes in. Everybody runs the same things. They just call it something different. So, the biggest thing will just be getting used to the new terminology.”

Humorously, when he and fellow Eagles WR, A.J. Brown, came on the Up and Adams Show on January 31st, he said his “one wish” was to “Just let us do what we do. Like anybody else would say. Just get us the ball.”

“Just let us do what we do…” @DeVontaSmith_6’s one request for his new OC Kellen Moore 😅@heykayadams

— Up & Adams (@UpAndAdamsShow) January 31, 2024

Smith Is Excited About What He and the Eagles Can Accomplish in 2024

When it comes to the big game next week, Smith did tell us that he had a player to watch, and that was the 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk. “Aiyuk has had a great year. He’s been one of the guys who stood out. So, I would say him. He would be that guy.”

Overall, though, amidst all the change in football and up and downs of the Eagles through 2023, Smith knows that consistency in his work ethic is what will bring more success his way.

When asked about the quote that raced around the media late in the season where he said he was “not happy” and the late season injury he incurred on a play where he was assigned blocking duties, he just said, “What happened this past year had nothing to do with next year. New season. New opportunity to go out there and do things. So, I’m always excited for the next one, but what happened last year, happened last year.”

Smith may have received less targets this year, but his efficiency has only gotten better through his three years in the NFL. On how he’s maintained a trajectory of growth, he said, “Trusting my training day in and day out. When I go into the building, I’m doing everything I can to keep myself healthy and doing everything I can so that when I get to Sunday, it’s easier than what I’ve done throughout the week.”

Smith Carries the Same Consistent, Versatile Approach to Football to All Aspects of Life, Including “VRST”

This mindset and approach has been something that Smith seems to carry into all aspects of his life. As he said that he’s mostly spending this time relaxing and spending time with family this offseason, he’s also bringing awareness to VRST, a modern minimalist clothing brand he partners with.

VRST, short for “versatile” is a clothing line exclusively available at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Smith’s approach to football is similar to VRST’s approach to design. Smith is a route runner on the field that seems fit for any situation and VRST is a sophisticated line designed for men to run, train, and commute in style.

Smith himself said, “Any occasion, whether it’s business, lounging around the house, or going to work out. They are very comfortable.” He specifically mentioned the Icon Tee having “great fabric, and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, making sure you’re comfortable in whatever you’re wearing.”

On Dick’s Sporting Goods’ site you can find VRST’s All-In Short, their Pinnacle Fleece Hoodie and Jogger and much more.

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