TAMPA, Fla. -- From admiring Randy Moss as a boy to rushing passers as a professional, Jacquies Smith has chased his football dream.
The 6-foot-2, 260-pound defensive end burst onto the scene with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, when he had 6.5 sacks. He has four sacks this season, which ranks second on the team behind defensive tackle Gerald McCoy's 4.5.
Smith, 25, shared his inspirations and discoveries as part of our weekly Q&A with a member of the Bucs:
When did you know you wanted to play football? "I started playing at 7 years old. I kind of watched football a lot. I was a big Randy Moss fan. So when I started, I played running back, and I wore 84 because I loved Randy Moss. He was my favorite player. So that's what really kind of got me going."
When did you know football could become a profession? "High school [at South Oak Cliff High in Dallas] is when I used to kind of speak it [as a possibility]. I used to always be like, 'You know what? I can go pro in this thing. I feel like I'm pretty good. I'm good enough to make it happen.' That's when I really started to speak it, probably my sophomore year when I first moved up to varsity. My freshman year, I could have [made varsity], but I didn't because I was like, 'I'm not big enough. I'm not ready for this.' So my sophomore year, my first game playing linebacker, I had like 12 tackles and a sack. I was like, 'You know what? I might be all right in this game.'"
Who's your biggest inspiration in the game? "I play it for my grandfather [Herbert], honestly. He's the one who put me in sports -- football, basketball. I remember Sundays just sitting down watching sports with him and things of that nature. He has been a big inspiration to me. He has passed away, but I play in honor of him."
What has been your biggest challenge in the sport? "The mental challenge of getting everything down pat. [Having an] environment that, inside and outside of football, it's stable enough where you can focus on what you want to focus on. Because I feel like, mentally, that's really half the battle in playing football."
What's the best advice you've received about being an NFL player? "Probably it was my time with the Dolphins, when I first got cut. The D-line coach there was Kacy Rodgers. He told me, flat out, 'I know you're getting released, and it doesn't look good right now. But you can play in this league.' And once he told me that, I stuck with it, and I believed that I really could."