It is all very much a sense of purpose for DeVonta Smith and what he has mapped out for his third Eagles season: There is always room for improvement. He has a vision for greatness and he plans to reach those lofty heights.
"Better routes, catch every pass thrown my way," Smith said. "That's what I'm looking to do. I can always get better and that's what I'm working toward."
He's still the same Smitty – mature beyond his years, laser-focused on the task at hand, and popular with his teammates for a sense of humor and mirth that he doesn't show to the media. Smith has been on the path he planned – the exception the loss in Super Bowl LVII – and there is more growth ahead.
After establishing a franchise record for receiving yards as a rookie (916 yards), Smith went to a new level in 2022, teaming with A.J. Brown to form a devastating pass-catching duo at wide receiver. Smith set an Eagles record for wide receivers with 95 receptions and his 1,196 yards, along with Brown's 1,496, gave the Eagles their first wide receiver pair to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.
He is an elite receiver and that's just a fact.
"Great route runner, dedicated to the craft, and working hard to be the best player he can be," Brown said. "We work great together, work off of each other. We want each other to have great success and I do think we make each other better players. I can't say enough great things about DeVonta and what he does and the way he approaches the game."
Smith won't go quite that far talking about himself. There is supreme confidence in what he does because, let's be real here, the guy has been great at every level of his football life. He was a star in high school and then went to Alabama and won two National Championships, catching 12 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the first half of the College Football Playoff National Championship Game victory for the Crimson Tide. Smith won the Heisman Trophy that season and, in short order, wowed the Eagles enough that Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman moved up in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft to select Smith.
Transition to the highest level of football? It hasn't been even a little bit of a problem for Smith.
"I just prepare the way I prepare," Smith said. "I know what I need to do to play at the level I want to be at and that's my focus every day. Nothing changes. We're getting ready for the season. We have high goals."
Smith has shown to be a top-level receiver with his precise routes, his amazing body control, great hands, and fearlessness. He's also been effective gaining yards after the catch, avoiding big hits, and staying on the field.
"He's one of the best in the game," Brown said.
The Eagles kicked off the month of June with their first open-to-the-media practice of the spring. Check out some of the highlights.
Smith's work in this Eagles' offseason program ends on Thursday and before he heads into his seven weeks of dedicated work on his own, he'll hold his Second Annual DeVonta Smith & Friends Celebrity Softball Game at the Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pa. on Saturday. More information is available here with the Home Run Derby beginning at 2 PM and the game starting after that.
"It's a fun thing, but it's also competitive," Smith said of the game, which features Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, Eagles cornerback Darius Slay, and many, many other stars from the sporting world. Hurts won the game last year with a home run off Terrell Edmunds, now with the Eagles, in the bottom of the seventh and final inning. "Everything we do is competitive, so it's fun, but, yeah, we want to win. Every guy who comes wants to win the game, so that makes it a fun time out for everybody."
It's all work and it's all fun for Smith, a rising star entering his third season. What is his ceiling? Given his history and his work ethic and the natural talent he has, Smith is going to let that kind of stuff take care of itself. He's just doing his thing, day after day after day.
"If you work hard and you prepare, then the rest just happens," Smith said. "That's the way I've always been and I'm going to keep trying to be the best I can be."