You probably have never heard of University of New Hampshire defensive tackle Jared Smith. Players from the FCS subdivision of college football rarely enter mainstream consciousness. Fans will get a chance to get to know the man teammates affectionately call "Fat Rabbit" at the 2013 NFL Combine, however. The 6'3, 292-pounder is one of a handful of small-school prospects to earn an invitation to Indianapolis, an opportunity he calls a "dream come true."
Smith earned his nickname for his surprising speed and agility within an outsized frame. He was a force during his senior season with the Wildcats, racking up a team-high 10 tackles for loss among his 40 stops, to go with four sacks, two forced fumbles and three blocked kicks. His efforts earned him All-CAA First Team honors, and several mentions on FCS All-America teams.
Despite the accolades, you won't find many articles talking about Smith's NFL Draft stock. He was left off SB Nation's own list of the top defensive tackles entering the 2013 NFL Draft in April. Smith is doing what he can to put himself on radar, however. He recorded two sacks in the Texas vs. The Nation game earlier this month, and can boost his stock even more with an impressive workout in Indianapolis.
Though the FCS doesn't usually produce the best pro talent, there are plenty of players that went overlooked by bigger schools who have gone on to productive careers. Baltimore Ravens quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco is the latest prominent example. Smith is hoping to add himself to a list of small-school defensive linemen that includes the likes of Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Frank Kearse (Alcorn State), New York Jets defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis (Hampton), and Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen (Idaho State).