Geno Smith has yet to throw a pass in the NFL, but he's garnered significant attention since the April draft -- unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.
But the former West Virginia quarterback doesn't seemed bothered about the media or his growing reputation as a diva. "I don't worry about what people say — my skin is pretty thick," Smith told USA TODAY Sports. "I've never been in trouble."
Smith's hopes of being a Top 10 pick were quickly dashed on Day 1 of the NFL draft, as Florida State's E.J. Manuel was the first QB off the board (taken 16th overall by the Bills). Smith had visions of being one of the first players to exit the Radio City Music Hall green room that Friday night, but instead he was selected 39th overall by the Jets -- who used their first and second first-round picks (No. 9 and 13) to nab cornerback Dee Milliner and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.
Within days of his selection, Smith dropped his agents.
He still maintains his decision to part ways with his representation had nothing to do with his free fall to the second round. Smith, who hasn't decided on his new representation, insists his tumble out of the first round wasn't the reason for firing his agents.
"No, that's not why I let them go," he said, adding that he has yet to select another agency. "Parts of the draft experience were tough, but not all of it, Smith said. With that entire process, you can see where some things went wrong. ... Choosing to leave those guys was the best decision for me at the time. That's what I went with."I think I'm pretty good with my decision making. So I trust myself."
Smith also denied reports that he painted him as a diva and spoiled brat. A Yahoo! Sports story claimed Smith rubbed some NFL teams the wrong way during his pre-draft visits by "texting friends or reading Twitter" instead of engaging with team personnel.
"That's not true," Smith told USA TODAY Sports. "I got strong remarks from all the teams I visited with. ... I couldn't care less what's coming out in the media because I know what's true."
In the article, Smith expressed regret over taking his agents' advice to skip the Senior Bowl in January. The Jets rookie QB also claims he never told ESPN he wouldn't stay for Day 2 of the NFL draft. "Coming back on Day 2 was never not an option for me," he said. "My goal was to go up on that stage and shake Mr. Goodell's hand. And that's what we did."
Smith also said he received congratulatory text messages from both Mark Sanchez and David Garrard -- his new teammates and biggest competitors heading into camp.
"Mark is a great guy,'' Smith said. "I have the utmost respect for him and I look forward to competing with him. David sent me a text the day after I was drafted. I expressed how much I was looking forward to learning from him, competing with him and allowing him to mentor me and to help me get better. I'm going to do the same for him.''
Smith, who has been in "constant communication" with new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and quarterbacks coach David Lee, is currently poring over his playbook in hopes of staying "ahead of the curve."
Smith also said he's not stressed about the five-person QB competition.
"What more can you ask for?'' he said. "As of right now, my role as a rookie quarterback is to be a sponge. I have a goal in mind. I'm going to work hard towards it. And I'm just going to do all the things I think are necessary for me to eventually be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.''