The Washington University in St. Louis football team takes on Berry College Saturday at Francis Field in Southern Athletic Association (SAA) play. Senior running back Austin Smestad and senior quarterback J.J. Tomlin reflected on the past four years at WashU with Assistant AD for Communications Chris Mitchell.
What made you come to WashU?
AS: I came to WashU because it offered the opportunity to continue to play football while getting a top rate education. I knew WashU would be challenging and engaging and offer opportunities that I would not receive at the other schools I was looking at.
JT: I knew I wanted a school that would challenge me both athletically and academically. Upon discovering WashU, I obviously was immediately impressed and knew it was the right place for me.
What does it mean to be a WashU student-athlete?
AS: Being a WashU student-athlete means knowing how to balance your time and being able to prioritize. It means coming home after practice and getting your school work done while making plans with your friends and family. Being a WashU student-athlete is a hard thing to do, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
JT: I think being a WashU student-athlete is a high honor. To be associated with some of the highest achieving athletes on and off the field from an array sports is something special and to have pride in.
How much fun is it to run the no-huddle offense?
AS: I like the zone scheme and the way it allows for more freedom to run where I want to. With it incorporated into the no-huddle offense, it is a blast to run especially when JJ decides to hand the ball off and we can run all over defenses.
JT: As a quarterback, it's obviously a dream. However, there really are sometimes where we have to catch ourselves from going too fast in order to give our defense a breather.
What have you learned from playing under head coach Larry Kindbom for four years?
AS: In my four years under coach K, I have learned many things. The biggest of which is the importance of becoming a football family.
JT: I think Coach K has made a life-long impression on all of his student-athletes. Of all the things he has taught me, it truly is how to have joy playing my sport and a "next play" mentality that doesn't just apply to football, but really life in general.
What is your favorite football memory at WashU?
AS: Although I have many fantastic memories from the past four years-road trips, football camp, and the Pikes Peak hiking trip-my favorite football memory at WashU was freshmen year when we were all watching the D3 playoff selection. When the announcers called our name the whole room went crazy! It was amazing to a part of this moment, and it is a feeling that I will never forget.
JT: At the time I took it for granted, but hearing our name called from the NCAA playoff selection show was really a special moment for me at WashU. It really was a great group of men who had worked so hard for that moment.
What are your future plans upon graduation from WashU?
AS: After graduation, I plan to get a job in the chemical production industry. I am hoping to design these large industrial processes that can produce millions of pounds of chemicals a year.
JT: Currently, I am undecided.. I am interviewing with a couple firms at the moment, but could very well end working for my brother's tech startup in D.C.