A Word With: Charles Smith
George Marinos recently sat down with Hanover Rhinos cornerback and leading pass-deflector Charles Smith to discuss growing up in Baltimore City, pass deflections, and PB&J sandwiches.
GM: I’m here with Hanover Rhinos veteran corner Charles Smith. Tell our fans how long you’ve played for this team, and what got you started playing semi-pro football.
CS: This upcoming season will be 5 years. My cousin, and former player, Marquis Jackson got me started. I went to practice, liked what I saw, and got back to playing football.
GM: You’ve also been very successful recruiting a number of your friends to come out and play for the Rhinos over the years. What does a successful recruiting pitch to one of your friends sound like?
CS: Are you still playing football, or trying to play?? Are you ready to see what it takes to be a Rhino, do you have what it takes?? If you’re up for the challenge, come to the tryouts and show out, if you’re as good as you say you are, you should have no problem becoming a part of a great organization, family and team.
GM: What are some of the major selling points of the Hanover Rhinos’ football franchise?
CS: The organization itself does a lot for the team each year. The organization normally looks forward to getting the team what we want. We are heavily involved with our community. We support and coach local teams, we have a kids camp every year that teaches the kids the fundamentals of football. Making a name for yourself is all up to you.
GM: How do you feel you’ve done at making a name for yourself here?
CS: I’ve come along way. From the scrimmage that made me a Rhino, ’til present day, I went from “rookie” to “The Deflector”. Teams used to underestimate me because I was new, and had to step up the way I played. I’ve earned my respect in this league. With that being said, there’s always room for improvement, because every player on the field is looking to show out.
GM: “The Deflector”. Has that become sort of a nickname for you?
CS: According to our team reporter, George, that’s the name he gave me along with my player card he released with the Rhinos card set. The article title read, “Deflect This”, in the article it focused on the most deflections I had on the season, so it fits. Will it stick….only time will tell
GM: (Chuckles), George is a pretty good reporter, isn’t he?
CS: Good is an understatement. He is the best reporter we ever had. He takes care of stats every game, gives a game recap, interviews with the players, makes player cards. He also goes back a few years to talk about previous match ups, and compares them to now. It kinda feels like ESPN or NFL network. I look forward to theses articles every week before the games.
GM: (Chuckles), Speaking of ESPN, do you ever check out the documentaries they run?
CS: If I can catch them, I’m always on the go so I barely see them anymore.
GM: What are some of your favorite teams?
CS: As far as teams- football: New England Patriots. I was a big fan of Ty Law and Tedy Bruschi. Basketball: Boston Celtics. Paul Pierce and KG will always be Celtics to me. Baseball: Baltimore Orioles. Adam Jones is that guy, plus the O’s are looking good this year. Hopefully, they will finish strong as well.
GM: You’ve probably seen the moment a hundred times. Did that give you chills when the Celtics won the championship, and KG did his “Anything is Possible” interview?
CS: I was pumped, I remember sitting with friends back home in Baltimore watching the game. Of course, I was outnumbered, but hey, win or lose, I still back my team. KG’s “Anything is Possible” interview was a classic. He is right though. When you really want something, anything is possible
GM: A friend of mine is a Lakers fan, and he still resents Paul Pierce for coming back into the game after going off on a wheelchair. We went to a Wizards game the year Pierce played for them, and Pierce got knicked up, and I think left the game with an injury. To which my buddy yelled, “bring out the wheelchair”. What’s your message to Laker fans still bitter about that series?
CS: Tell Kobe it’s a team sport, pass the ball.
GM: How do you feel about Laker fans in general? Do you feel there is a legit rivalry still between Boston and the Lakers?
CS: Lakers fans are ight by me. My sister and some of my friends are Lakers fans. As far as a rivalry being there still…gotta have a team first. The competition between them isn’t what it use to be.
GM: Tell our readers a little bit about where you grew up.
CS: My Baltimore City will forever be my home, no matter where I reside. Being brought up in the city was never easy, but I got through it all. The city life is for me, so this Hanover area is quiet to me, sometimes quiet is not bad. I’m just glad I accomplished so much coming from B’more, I say that because many people don’t live long enough to get that chance.
GM: Do you still live in the Baltimore Area?
CS: No, I don’t, but I still visit my hometown every chance I get. My family still lives there.
GM: Has Hanover become kind of like a second home for you?
CS: In a way, yeah.
GM: Finish this sentence: You know someone is from Hanover, PA when _______________.
CS: Hanover is all they know. That could be any city.
GM: What sets Hanover apart from any other city?
CS: Hanover is a quiet city compared to where I’m from. I’m used to a busy city. Hanover has a lot of opportunities, people don’t take advantage like they should.
GM: A lot of people seem to assume that a small town like Hanover could never consistently compete with the Harrisburgs, Baltimores, and Virginias in football. However, there’s a lot of talent in this town. What do the Rhinos have to do to take advantage of it and compete for league titles?
CS: We need too play as one unit, learn from each other. Football is a very emotional sport, so the team that wants it more and plays in unity without letting up on offense, defense, and special teams…who can top that?
That’s what I like to call the well-oiled machine, when that’s running, who can stop it?
GM: What would it mean to you to be part of a championship team here?
CS: To me, it means we were the team that played, practiced, won, lost, or tied the games leading up to the ‘ship. We played the best and beat them as a team, we put in the work.
GM: How frustrating is it to go through a 2-8 season like the one the Rhinos just had?
CS: I’ve never been on a team that went 2-8, so it was very frustrating. It was hard to get some of the other players to realize that every game is a new game, so if you lost last game, use that fuel to fire yourself up to get the W the following week. We had some new players, so playing together improved toward the end of the season, regardless of the score.
GM: What are the most recent 5 songs on your music playlist?
CS: Panda Remix- Lor Scoota. In My Shoes- Lor Scoota. Lock Jaw- French Montana. Hell & Back- Kid Ink. Late Weekends- Lor Scoota
GM: Lor Scoota is a rapper from Baltimore who passed away. Could you explain what got you into his music?
CS: Yeah, that’s him, #LongLive Scoota.
Coming from the same city, I could relate to some of the things he said. He spoke the truth about how it is growing up in Baltimore City, yeah Baltimore is a bad city, but what city isn’t. Baltimore will forever be my hometown no matter what, because I do see the positivity in my city, you just gotta be from there to understand. He showed the kids no matter how your life starts, it’s what you gotta do to get up and do better. He was on his way, he was the voice of our city.
GM: Did you ever meet him?
GM: Do you ever rap or beatbox into the mirror just for fun when no one is around?
CS: I still freestyle every now and then for fun.
GM: Do you think you could win one of the battles from the movie 8 Mile?
CS: No, I don’t battle.
GM: What’s your favorite type of sandwich, and why?
CS: Can’t go wrong with a PB&J sandwich.
GM: Steak dinner?
CS: Steak, chicken, fish, pasta, or potatoes sound good to me.
CS: Not over steak
GM: What about a peanut butter & jelly steak sandwich?
CS: I’ll pass. Would you eat that??
GM: I’m pretty traditional when it comes to food. About the strangest thing I will do is put duck sauce on my rice.
Some guys reward themselves with a steak dinner after a good game. What are your plans when you get your first career interception?
CS: This season, I dropped at least 4 from excitement. when you’re a 6’3 corner, you don’t get targeted a lot. When I am targeted, it’s over thrown. I’m keeping the ball, and running to the sideline. Keeping the ball from my first semi-pro interception is reward enough, there’s no need to celebrate. I’ve been there before, just not at this level.
GM: When you say dropped, do you mean balls you think you should have caught, or ones you actually got two hands on? I only really remember 2 that you actually dropped this year.
CS: If it touched my hand it should have been caught.
GM: Don’t you think sometimes a one-handed deflection is a really good play, though?
CS: Of course, anything that stops the offense from advancing up the field is good in my book.
GM: So, it’s not really a drop then, unless you got both hands on it.
CS: To me it is, but I’ll take a deflection over anyone on the the offense catching it. Deflections can result in my teammates getting interceptions, as well.
GM: When did you start playing cornerback, and how did you know that was the position for you?
CS: I started playing when I was 11, my dad told me that it was the hardest position to be good at on defense. It takes hard work and dedication, you have to cover some of the fastest players, so I like being challenged. I also play wide receiver (occasionally), but I love defense.
GM: At times, as a corner, if you do your job and cover your man, you can go for long stretches without the ball being thrown your way. How does that feel when that happens?
CS: It’s a great feeling, because you took away an option for the QB. Even if I wasn’t targeted, I never really know when I will be, so it keeps me on my toes. In my mind, I tell myself to keep it up. I’m always focused on the following play, because worrying about the play that just passed can mess with you. You’re either gonna be down or cocky, and I stay humble.
GM: If you could have an intro song playing for when the Rhinos’ defense takes the field, what would it be?
CS: Here Comes the Boom, by Nelly.
Or We Too deep (by Clemson football players Yoda Jenkins and Darius Robinson). I like the intro to We Too Deep.
GM: Who is the most serious player on the team, and who is the funniest?
CS: Most serious, Alex (Isennock) or (Richard) Settle. when it’s game time, they are completely locked in until the game is over. Travis (Garretson) is the most serious (on the team).
The funniest is hard to pick, we all have a funny side. That’s one of the way we bond.
GM: I’ve got one more question for you. Donald Trump’s hair is ________ and reminds me of __________.
CS: Thin. A wig.
GM: Thanks for your time.
CS: No, thank you. It was a pleasure.
Remember, you can catch a new Q&A session with a Hanover Rhinos player on Wordy Wednesdays, once a month during the offseason, exclusively on Rhino Charge, the official blog of the Hanover Rhinos.