In the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected Ohio State alum defensive end Tyreke Smith with the No. 158 pick. Here are five things to know about the former Buckeye:
1. Family Matters
Ohio State's 2022 NFL Pro Day featured the Smith brothers, Tyreke and Malik, as prospects; but only one was actually a Buckeye. Seattle selected Tyreke in the fifth round in April, a high-energy defensive lineman who led the Big Ten Conference in quarterback hits over the last two seasons. His brother Malik, a basketball-player-turned-football-prospect - was hoping to utilize his athleticism and eight months of training to be a tight end to entice an NFL team as well.
The former Cleveland Heights High basketball star committed to University of North Carolina-Asheville, before heading to Bryant University in 2017. From there, Smith headed to Fisk University, a historically-black college in Nashville. After being noticed by an Ohio State coach while visiting his brother, Malik started taking his brother's advice about potentially playing football again. After focusing on basketball since a child, Malik began training - to be an NFL tight end.
"A few of the drills, it is my second and third time ever doing it," Malik said. "Learning this game has been critical. It's been hard. But it's been a good process. And I'm surrounded by people who want to see me win, who want to help, like my brother."
In addition to having Tyreke, a former tight end at Cleveland Heights High to aid in his tutelage, he had Jermichael Finley. The Super Bowl XLV champion played tight end for the Green Bay Packers for his entire six-season career.
Tyreke Smith's brother Malik at Ohio State's Pro Day working out for NFL teams at tight end. Encouragement from former Green Bay Packers tight end and Smith's trainer Jermichael Finley.
Finley got in the lab with Smith, working on everything from understanding responsibilities to route-running.
Following his Pro Day and the subsequent NFL Draft, Smith received a rookie minicamp invite from the Cleveland Browns
On April 30, Smith received the call that he was invited to the Cleveland Browns rookie minicamp.
2. Late Bloomer: Switching Sports
Seahawks defensive end Tyreke Smith made quite the leap athletically during his time at Cleveland Heights High. As is the case with many NFL players, Smith dabbled in several sports as a teenager. While Smith was developing into a football prospect as an underclassmen at Cleveland Heights, his primary focus was basketball.
Malik Smith was on his way out of Cleveland Heights in 2016, headed to UNC-Asheville on a basketball scholarship. While Tyreke's body continued to grow, he became an integral member of the Tigers basketball team. On the court, Smith developed into Cleveland Heights top scorer and rebounder, following in his brother's footsteps.
But Tyreke wasn't allowed to play contact football for many years as a child, and after a series of concussions early in his teenage years, his career on the gridiron almost never happened. Cleveland Heights coaches - or anyone else for that matter, could convince Randy and Michelle Smith to change their minds.
It would take family friend and football coach Lonnie Atkins Jr. to change his parents mind. Atkins, a friend of the family and Cleveland Heights graduate, convinced the couple to let Smith work out in front of a group of college coaches. This workout, led to Smith fielding offers from schools like Toledo and Iowa State without playing a down.
But the summer of Smith's junior year, he hit another growth spurt, helping him on the football field as a tight end and defensive end. As a senior, Smith notched 11 sacks, 70 tackles and 23 tackles for loss at defensive end; and caught four touchdowns at tight end.
In 2016, Cleveland.com highlighted the two-sport athlete as he balanced recruitment and success in basketball and football. Smith would go on to be the No. 34 recruit in the country before graduating.
The rest is history from there. Check out the Smith brothers' basketball highlight tape
3. Cleveland Heights: A Smith Family Legacy
Cleveland Heights High opened on Cedar Road in Cleveland in 1926. The school has produced a long list of athletes, including NFL brothers Travis and Jason Kelce.
But for the Smith family, it's been a launching point for the family athletically - and a place of love. Seahawks defensive end Tyreke Smith made his own claim to fame at the school, along with his brother Malik.
But the Smith name preceded them at Cleveland Heights. Randy Smith, a 1986 Tigers alum, played basketball for the school before going on to Point Park University in Pittsburgh. There he'd meet Michelle, a basketball player for Point Park's women team. They'd go on to get married, have four children and move to California. But in Malik's sophomore year, the family moved back to Cleveland Heights, and continued the Tigers legacy.
Point Park Athletics commemorating a lost alum with a photo of the 1991-92 Media Guide featuring Randy Smith
Randy and Michelle coach AAU basketball players across the Ohio area, two former players including their sons Tyreke and Malik.
4. Never Being Quiet: More Than A Shirt
In 2017, five-star Cleveland Heights defensive end recruit Tyreke Smith made national headlines while attending an Ohio State one-day camp. Smith was already offered from the Buckeyes along with a slew of other FBS programs when he sported a shirt reading, "I Hope I Don't Get Killed For Being Black Today."
It wasn't just a shirt he grabbed on the way out, but intentional. It wasn't just about the harassment that ensued on a traffic stop in 2016, or the various times he and his brother Malik were accused of stealing from neighborhood stores as kids. But a message to bring attention to an issue being faced in Cleveland Heights and beyond.
"The shirt was created to bring light into the everyday problems that blacks face between police and black-on-black crimes," Malik told Eleven Warriors. "The shirt exemplifies a voice that we have but may not be heard. So why not have people see it?
Tyreke and the shirt would make national headlines, with many being split on their sentiments. But it didn't have any bearing on Smith as a prospect, keeping all of his scholarship offers and heading to Ohio State.
Check out photos of Seahawks fifth-round pick Tyreke Smith from his 2022 offseason in Seattle. The linebacker out of Ohio State was selected No. 158 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft.
5. Ballin' with Bobby Wagner
While Seahawks defensive end Tyreke Smith made a legacy at the high school and college levels in Ohio, he was raised primarily in Southern California.
After Randy and Michelle Smith met at Point Park University as basketball stars for the men's and women's team, they settled down and had three children (Malik, Tyreke and Dominique) and adopted a fourth in Kayla. With two parents with extensive hoop backgrounds, it's no surprise that Tyreke developed a love for the game early.
Tyreke played pick up games across Los Angeles with friends and teammates as a teenager, and had an opportunity to hoop with Seahawks legend Bobby Wagner. The Los Angeles Rams linebacker grew up with basketball aspirations like Tyreke, playing against NBA Champion Kawhi Leonard in high school.
"I used to play basketball with his cousin and Bobby Wagner, he had just gotten drafted by Seattle," Smith recalled. "He came up to the rec center to play basketball. He was good too."
Who won that pickup game?
"He definitely did," said Smith, who would've been around 12 or 13 years old at the time. "I couldn't actually believe his athleticism. He was sneaky bouncy. He was getting thrown 'oops' left and right."