DeAndre Smelter A Budding Star
By Clenaure Carter
Georgia Tech receiver DeAndre Smelter continues to turn heads with great size (6-3, 220), speed and athletic ability. Smelters is showing flashes of becoming the next big thing at Georgia Tech. Ranked outside of the Top 50 players in the ACC in more than one preseason feature, Smelter started turning heads in practices and scrimmages during the offseason. This past summer, ESPN went crazy over his one-handed leap and grab that went viral and put the once-promising baseball prospect in the spotlight.
In the ACC season opener, Smelter, a Georgia Tech junior, caught three passes. His first two receptions were touchdowns. On his first touchdown, Smelter went against one of the best corners in the country, All-ACC cornerback Ross Cockrell. Lined up 1-on-1 with a premier talent, Smelter once again showed why he has a promising collegiate career under the guise of coach Paul Johnson.
Smelter's playmaking ability and size reminds the Yellow Jackets of Demayrius Thomas. The Tatnall Square standout has done nothing but produce amazing catches and opposing defenses soon may have to start devoting extra attention for the Jackets' budding star.
"I think DeAndre Smelter has a ton of ability," Johnson told reporters before the season. "The more he plays football, the better he's going to be."
Now Georgia Tech has to find more playing time for the gifted receiver. Sports media outlets around Atlanta wondered who talent-laden quarterback Vad Lee would throw the ball to during the season as age and experience at receiver graduated last spring. The answer is becoming more apparent with every catch.
Switching career paths from baseball to catching one-handed 35-yard passes is no easy feat as many coaches worried about the progression and learning curve from baseball to football.
“Speed of the game is the biggest adjustment for me,” Smelter said of his transition from baseball. “During my training in the summer, I’ve just tried to work on my footwork and get better at making my cuts.”
The route-running and playmaking adjustments are paying off as Smelter shook off Cockrell and ran an excellent slant route for a touchdown on his first collegiate reception.