MOBILE, Alabama -- There aren't many blank spaces on Devin Smith's calendar. For the former Ohio State wide receiver, that's been business as usual ever since he embarked on one heck of a senior season.
Smith and his teammate/roommate/cousin Doran Grant came here with a disadvantage, but any acknowledgement of it served as the ultimate humblebrag. While some players enjoyed more than a month away from football before their first Senior Bowl practice, the former Buckeyes had less than a week because of all that went into winning the first-ever College Football Playoff national championship.
Grant, a defensive back, labeled it a "good problem" to have. Smith acknowledged the obvious without a hint of complaint.
"I think we're all a little tired from practice a little bit and meeting with tons of coaches and things like that and doing this here with the media," Smith said Tuesday. "We're kind of drained a little bit but at the same time we're having fun and just soaking everything in."
Both players play positions the Browns could fill in the 2015 NFL Draft. Cleveland's seen 45 former Buckeyes dot its roster over the past 66 seasons, and it last drafted an Ohio State player in 2009 (Brian Robiskie).
When Saturday's game comes to a close, Smith will be among the large group of players heading West to San Diego, where he'll immediately begin his training for next month's NFL Combine. He conceded there might be time for a day off or two after his Pro Day in March, but there's little reason to believe this marathon will end anytime soon.
"Not much down time," Smith said, "but I'm going to really take care of my body and do what's right and what's best."
For Smith, who grew up in nearby Massilon, doing what's best simply requires maintaining the kind of performance that made him one of the central figures on Ohio State's first national championship squad in more than a decade. The Buckeyes' big-play threat was at his best down the stretch, as he caught at least one pass of 40 yards or longer in Ohio State's rivalry win over Michigan, its Big Ten Championship rout of Wisconsin, its stunning College Football Playoff semifinal victory over Alabama and its championship triumph over Oregon.
Smith finished the season with 33 receptions for 931 yards, good for a whopping average of 28.2 yards per catch.
After expressing some frustration over a lack of targets early in the season, Smith delivered not only as a big-play receiving threat but also as a menace on special teams. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer recently called Smith one of the best gunners in college football and said it was one of the main reasons why Smith's draft stock was "soaring." Smith said this area of his game came up often in his meetings with teams, a group that included the Browns, he said.
ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. included Smith near the bottom of the first round in his first mock draft of 2015.
"I think the path I'm taking right now is the mindset I have to keep working, to learn as much as possible and take everything in," Smith said. "I think I can take that next step and be a great player."
For Grant, the Senior Bowl served as an opportunity to separate himself among a group of cornerbacks many anticipate to be selected in the draft's middle rounds. Projected as a third-round selection by CBSSports.com, the Akron native won't play in Saturday's game because of a minor hand injury he suffered during Thursday's practice but he logged plenty of important snaps in front of scouts through the first three days.
"It's a chance to come out and compete after winning the national championship," Grant said, and go against the best."
Right by each other's side, Grant and Smith have been doing that for years. Once more in the busiest season of their lives, they'll be together on the field before their lives really get crazy.
"We're probably the only cousins to play in this game," Smith said. "It makes it that much more special that we can win a national championship and come here and represent Ohio State."
This article is part of the Road to the Draft series, driven by Liberty Ford.