Florida International TE Jonnu Smith rebounds from boiling water burns

6 September 2014:  FIU tight end Jonnu Smith (87) takes a reception 41 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter as the FIU Golden Panthers defeated the Wagner College Seahawks, 34-3, at FIU Stadium in Miami, Florida.

FIU tight end Jonnu Smith was burned with boiling water by his pregnant girlfriend in November. But he is back on the field and a legitimate NFL Draft prospect. (Photo Courtesy: FIU Athletics). 

MOBILE, AL — Every NFL team that visits with Florida International tight end Jonnu Smith here at the Senior Bowl will likely ask him about a high-profile incident last November.

And Smith knows how he’ll address it.

“I’ve been through a lot of adversity,” Smith said Tuesday after practice. “So a lot of things that people go through at the next level that they can’t handle, I’ll be able to handle because I’ve been through so much.”

Near the end of last season, Smith’s pregnant girlfriend poured boiling water on him, resulting in severe burns to the head, neck, back, shoulder and an arm.

According to reports, Mary Gaspar, who was charged with aggravated battery, was feeling extrememly emotional and stressed. The two had argued about the attention Smith was paying her in the relationship.

“Some things just don’t go how you think they’re going to go in life,” Smith said. “You just have to go along with the flow. Everything is not going to be perfect in life. Everybody runs into adversity and mountains that are hard to overcome. But you’ve just got to keep fighting.”

Smith is a draftable prospect. On Tuesday, Smith was officially measured at 6-feet-2 and 3/4 inches and 245 pounds.

“I thought you looked really good at weigh in,” an NFL Scout was overheard telling Smith after practice.

The scout then proceeded to ask about the incident.

Florida International and then-coach Mario Cristobal were the only school to offer Smith a scholarship.

In 2014, Smith led all college tight ends with 61 catches.

In 2015, Smith suffered a torn knee ligament that ended his season.

“I finished that game with a torn ACL,” Smith said. “I had the best game of my career.”

Smith knows he doesn’t have ideal tight end height, but he enjoys a comparison to Jordan Reed of the Washington Redskins (and University of Florida.)

“Athletic. Versatile. Matchup nightmare,” Smith said of Reed.

Somehow Smith says he’s able to handle really bad things when they happen with a “laugh” and a “smile.” Part of his rationale is that things happen for a reason.

When Smith was 4 years old, his father was killed in a work accident.

Asked about it, Smith says he feels blessed that other family members stepped up to help raise him.

“Growing up I faced a lot of adversity but we relied on our faith and we overcame everything as a family,” he said. “It’s funny how something bad happens, but something good comes out of it in the end. If it wasn’t for the things I went through in my life in the past I probably wouldn’t be here today.”

Speaking about the boiling water incident, from which Smith returned to the field to finish the season, he said: “I smiled through the whole thing. I’m grateful of the position that I’m at because there is always someone out there in worst position than you.”

The Dolphins will be looking to add a tight end, either in free agency or the draft.

“Well, I’m a great tight end,” Smith said with a smile. “So…”

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