As a Recruit:
DeAndre Smelter was the perfect example of a three-sport-star in high school, as he dominated in baseball, football, and basketball. Factory schools like Auburn - where Ted Roof recruited him - were interested in him playing football, but Smelter ultimately chose to play baseball. He was ranked by Perfect Game USA as the 11th best recruit in all of baseball his senior year. Current MLB players like Christian Yelich and Taijuan Walker were ranked below Smelter which shows his incredible ability on the diamond. He ended up being drafted in the 14th round of the 2010 MLB Draft, but he selected to enroll at Georgia Tech to raise his draft stock even more and satisfy his mom's desire for him to go to college. We're glad he did.
As A Jacket:
Smelter didn't disappoint in his freshman season for the Tech baseball team. He made 14 appearances on the mound and compiled an impressive 0.52 ERA for the season. Unfortunately, a nagging shoulder injury began to bother DeAndre and allowed him to only appear in four games the following season. His fastball velocity began to decrease, and he decided to give another sport a try - football.
After an impressing Paul Johnson and company in practices and scrimmages prior to the 2013 season, Smelter earned a starting spot at wide receiver for the Jackets. The raw - but talented - wideout appeared in all 13 games for Tech and showed fans why he was once a highly coveted football recruit. He finished the season with 21 receptions for 345 yards and four touchdowns - two of which came against Georgia when he truly began getting attention as a potential star in the making. My favorite catch of his came against Pittsburgh on this third-and-long:
That would only be the beginning of seeing Smelter's uncanny ability to go up and make plays in the air like cornerbacks aren't even there.
In 2014, DeAndre showed what one year of experience could do as he regularly dominated secondaries on his way to a breakout season. He finished with 35 catches for 715 yards and seven touchdowns despite missing the ACC Championship, Orange Bowl, and most of the Georgia game after suffering an ACL tear in the first half. He also ran three times for 103 yards and this touchdown that we all may wish had been a 70-yard run to the 5-yard line instead:
In all seriousness, it was an incredible run that showed Smelter's great playmaking ability and ideally would've been a game-winning touchdown that ended up being one of the top moments of the season.
I've been a huge advocate for Smelter's greatness all year, and I won't stop now. I have a fairly unpopular opinion that he is the most polished wide receiver out of Georgia Tech since Calvin Johnson and one of the best athletes we've seen in a really long time. Yes, that means I believe Smelter is a better wide receiver prospect than Demariyus Thomas was coming out of college. He has all of the tools - including a very advanced route running ability for coming out of the option offense. I hated it for DeAndre when he tore his ACL because I believed he could be a high draft pick after he would surely amaze the scouts in the combine, but I have no doubt he will bounce back and be a huge steal for someone in early May.
Off of the field, Smelter has been another class act that represents the institution in the best way possible. He was always one of my favorite players to hear interviewed, and after hearing that he still received a combine invite so he can speak to front offices, I am sure he'll increase his stock when teams realize his IQ, high character, and drive for being great. DeAndre graduated with a degree in Management in December.
Thank you, DeAndre, for your incredible athletic contributions to Georgia Tech and overcoming the adversity in one sport to only exceed expectations in the other. Congratulations on your degree, and good luck on your recovery and journey to the NFL. We look forward to watching you on Sundays for a long time.