FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - By the time Will Campbell had gotten off the phone with his parents, the meeting between Geno Smith and the offensive linemen was over. But Smith made sure he got his hotel roommate up to speed before Day 1 of rookie minicamp.
"As soon as he got back in the room, he told me: 'Oh, you weren't in the meeting, come on,' " said Campbell, who went over play-count cadences with Smith for "a good 15-20 minutes" Thursday night.
Despite the reports of Smith being a prima donna, the Jets' second-round pick already has impressed his fellow rookies with his dogged pursuit of perfection. Even coach Rex Ryan took note of Smith's presence on the field, saying: "It's unusual the way he did command the huddle. That's sharp."
Soon after Smith fired his agents, reports surfaced that he was a diva with unrealistic draft-day expectations. The former West Virginia quarterback, who was taken 39th overall by the Jets, has denied those anonymous accusations and said Friday that he's never been one to pay attention to the media "and probably never will."
"I think it's been a more eventful few weeks for the media," Smith said. "I've just been my natural old self. Nothing's changed, I'm not feeling any way towards any of it. Like I said, I [couldn't] care less about it. My only job is to focus on what I have here and get better."
His new teammates use words like "wholesome," "humble" and "leader" to describe the QB, who will don No. 7. "As soon as he walked in, he ordered something to eat and got in his playbook," said Campbell, a sixth-round pick who played defense as a senior at Michigan but will switch to guard. "So as a leader, and as my quarterback, I love to see something like that."
"Right when he walked in the door, he was bright and happy," added guard Brian Winters, a third-round pick out of Kent State. "You definitely feel like he has those leadership skills that we definitely need as a rookie class. We've got some good offensive linemen coming in and we want to do everything we can to help him succeed."
Despite those rave character reviews, Smith was highly critical of his Day 1 performance. "I'll let the coaches do the grading. But if I say it, it's an 'F' because I want to be an 'A-plus,' " he said.
Smith said he already has studied film of former NFL QBs who played in similar systems, guys like Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb and Brett Favre. "The West Coast system is one of the toughest ones to learn, but I don't think it was too foreign to me," said Smith, who has yet to choose a new agent.
Though he insisted he's not focused on being the starter in Week 1, behind the scenes, he's preparing like someone who expects to have the ball in his hand every down.