“Drew talked his ear off,” Mike Smith recalled. “He’s here to watch the game and my kid’s bugging the hell out of him. But he was great toward Drew. He told him everything about the business. I apologized to Falk afterwards.”
That night in 1995, Smith decided he would become a sports agent. Seventeen years later, he is living his dream, representing NFL players for Miami-based Goal Line Football while also working as an associate at Tysons Corner-based Protorae Law.
At 29, with 15 NFL players under contract, the Sterling native ranks among the youngest agents with 10 or more active clients.
He has prospered by letting other agents chase stars and training his sights on under-the-radar players such as fullback Darrel Young of the Washington Redskins, fullback Henry Hynoski of the New York Giants and Chicago Bears linebacker Dom DeCicco.
“I wish I could walk up to [Stanford quarterback] Andrew Luck and say: ‘Hi, I’m Drew Smith. Let me represent you,’ ” Smith said laughing. “But you have to have a realistic sense of who you are and what you do. . . . I tell everybody, I try to find ballplayers . . . hard-working, blue-collar-type players. Guys that will fight and work and have the mind-set of: ‘I’m not leaving. I’m going to be here.’ Guys that are going to be viable NFL players for eight to 10 years.”
Generally, Smith earns up to three percent of a client’s pay once he signs with a team. Often, however, Smith has to invest up to $15,000 into a player to cover training, living and travel arrangements to help him before he is drafted or signs a contract.
Growing up, Smith kept his nose in NFL draft preview guides — sometimes in class with a history book over them so his teacher wouldn’t catch him. That love for statistics and scouting reports is one reason why an internship at Goal Line Football Management became a full-time job.
Brian Levy, who founded Goal Line Football in 1990, agreed to bring on Smith, then a first-year law student at the University of Miami — but with reservations.
“A lot of times to give someone an internship, it’s a drag and very draining to train the person,” Levy said. “I had avoided bringing on interns for years. But Drew showed an incredible knowledge of football. He wasn’t an intern sitting there, saying, ‘What do you have for me today?’ He was always proactive, putting together scouting reports, making recommendations on guys we should recruit. . . . He did an incredible job.”
In 2009, Smith landed his first client: Nebraska offensive lineman Lydon Murtha, a seventh-round pick of the Detroit Lions who now plays for the Miami Dolphins and just re-signed for one year and $1.9 million.
Since then, Smith’s clientele has steadily grown. In addition to the 15 players under contract in the NFL, a couple of more are NFL free agents, two play in the Arena Football League and nine more hope to be drafted or signed as rookies this spring.