After watching Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson leave the baseball diamond for NFL stardom, why shouldn’t this be the new trend? Georgia Tech wide receiver DeAndre Smelter just might become another baseball player turned NFL star if things go right for him in 2014.
Last season the 6-foot-3, 220 pounder led all Tech receivers with 21 catches and four touchdowns. He was also second among wideouts in receiving yards with 345. Smelter was able to take advantage of the limited amount of targets that receivers get in Paul Johnson’s flexbone offense compelling scouts to take notice of his skills on the field.
According to NFLdraftblitz.com, Smelter is the 12th best wide receiver prospect in the nation going into 2014. His size and 4.5 speed are intriguing to the NFL as well as the fact that run blocking is something that is preached at Georgia Tech.
Despite the fact that Paul Johnson’s offense is 80% running, his wide receivers get a lot of attention from pro scouts. In a New York Times article done last year, Coach Johnson explained why his offense get his receivers so much recognition though they don’t see the ball as often as other wideouts in the nation:
“It’s a great offense for wide receivers. You don’t get double-covered. You get one-on-ones with nobody underneath. You learn all the basic skills and fundamentals you need to be a good player on the next level.”
Last year Smelter was able to make big plays in the passing game because he had built a great chemistry with quarterback Vad Lee. Lee, of course, has transferred to James Madison since then and now Smelter will have to hope that he can build similar chemistry with the new QB whether it is Justin Thomas or Tim Byerly. Justin Thomas is going to be the starter going into camp but that position is going to be up for grabs all August long.
Regardless of who ends up being the quarterback, he is going to know that with DeAndre Smelter he has some pretty steady hands to throw to in the passing game and some downfield blocking in the running game. Smelter may have made the right decision to put baseball on the backburner for a minute, and it could pay big dividends if he has a big 2014 campaign.
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