DeAndre Smelter, who starred for Georgia Tech at wide receiver last fall after three seasons on the baseball team, returned to baseball this spring. After two effective outings as a relief pitcher, however, Smelter has decided to give up baseball to concentrate on football.
Smelter informed Tech baseball coach Danny Hall Thursday morning.
"I think he had talked a lot with his family and just felt like this is the best decision for him to try to, as he said, put all his eggs into the football basket," Hall said.
Smelter was to spend the spring going back and forth between baseball and football spring practice, which begins March 24. In his first two appearances of the season, Smelter had shown signs that the form that had gotten him drafted in the 14th round out of high school had returned. He threw a total of two innings with one hit allowed and hit 89 miles per hour.
Hall said last week that Smelter was throwing the best he had seen since he had gotten to Tech and thought he could improve his velocity over the course of the season. Hall was nonetheless understanding of the decision.
"He doesn’t have a bigger fan than me for him to do well in football," Hall said.
Smelter pitched for three seasons with limited success, partly due to a shoulder injury suffered in high school, before deciding to try football last spring. He became Tech’s most consistent and dangerous wide receiver, catching 21 passes for 345 yards and four touchdowns.
Hall has been through this at least once before, only in the opposite direction. As an assistant coach at Michigan in the mid-1980’s, Hall worked with Barry Larkin, who had come to Michigan to play football for coach Bo Schembechler, but ultimately chose baseball over football, a decision that led him to the baseball hall of fame.
Ken Sugiura, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
What do y'all think of Smelter's decision? Good move or bad move? Now that he's focused on football solely, will he be even better next year?