How undrafted Vyncint Smith became only rookie starting WR
Vyncint Smith didn't expect to be the only rookie wide receiver starting in the NFL last week. He was just hoping to still have a job.
You probably are wondering who in the heck is Vyncint Smith? That’s why you listen to Talk of Fame Network and visit our website, Talkoffamenetwork.com. We bring the knowledge. This week wel also bring you Vyncint Smith, who was the only rookie wide receiver to start an NFL game in Week 1.
Why is this significant?
Well, 33 wide receivers were drafted last April including first rounders Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore. Yet the only one to start last Sunday was Smith, an undrafted free agent out of tiny Limestone College, who toed the line for the Houston Texans. Because of that Talk of Fame visited with Smith to discuss his meteoric rise in the NFL.
Smith played at a Division II school with only 1200 students and whose big game was against Catawba (the same school that once gave the NFL a receiver named Bucky Pope, who was known as ‘The Catawba Claw’). So how did he end up with the Texans?
“The Texans had on a pre-draft visit,’’ Smith recalled. “Made me feel (more) comfortable with the area. They talked with me about how I could make the team….At the end of the day I felt it was my best chance.’’
Smith was right but to give himself that chance he had to do a difficult thing. He had to tell the college coach who gave him his first big chance that he wasn’t going to sign with the team now employing him, the Chicago Bears.
Mike Furrey left Limestone in January to join his old Arena League teammate Mike Nagy, who was named head coach. Furrey played eight seasons in the NFL, the highlight being when he led the NFC in receptions in 2006 with 98 for 1,086 yards and seven touchdowns. Smith learned much from Furrey in their two year together at Limestone but in the end he had to turn down his old coach’s pleadings to give himself his best shot to live his dream.
“The hardest decision was telling Coach Furrey, my college coach, I wasn’t signing with him in Chicago,’’ Smith admitted. “He understood.’’
Last Sunday Smith showed the rest of the NFL what Furrey already knew. Vyncint Smith belonged in the NFL. Yet Smith had to admit when he arrived in Foxboro, MA. last Sunday and saw Tom Brady and the Patriots on the opposite side of the field it hit him that he wasn’t facing Catawba any more.
“You see the pre-game video (on the scoreboard screen) of Tom Brady and it’s like ‘Wow. I’m getting ready to play against the New England Patriots.’ It’s overwhelming but after a few players you get over it.’’
Elvis Dumervil knows something about overwhelming too because he’s been overwhelming offensive linemen trying to block him for over a decade. But Week 1 of this season began without him after the Baltimore Ravens’ all-time leading pass rusher announced his retirement. He told Talk of Fame Network why he made that choice.
“Maybe it’s a good reason I’m retiring,’’ Dumervil told Talk of Fame of the new rule outlawing defenders falling with their full weight on the quarterback. “It’s crazy.’’
Dumervil retires with 105.5 sacks, 23 forced fumbles and a reputation as a feared pass rusher earned in both Denver and Baltimore. But he isn’t leaving with Hall of Fame thoughts on his mind.
“You never really think about that,’’ Dumervil explained. “You love this game. You have passion. Every week is important to you. You’re so busy you don’t’ get caught up those accolades. You worry about the (next) game. The next season. When you retire you can reflect on what you’ve done.’’
Dumervil did plenty. Whether it was enough to make him a Hall of Famer or not remains to be seen but a guy who has been playing since the sixth grade knew what he missed the most last week. Oddly, it wasn’t the game itself. It was Saturday night.
“That’s the day you get in the mode for the game,’’ Dumervil said. “The hotel meetings. My wife is not packing my bag.’’
To learn more from Elvis Dumervil about what he feels is a great pass rushers most important accomplishment (it’s wasn’t just a sack) and hear what Smith believes was the real reason he was the lone rookie wide receiver starting in the NFL last Sunday tune in Wednesday night from 8-10 p.m. on your local SB Nation Radio Network station or download our free podcast on iTunes or the TuneIn app to hear the full two-hour show or go to our website, talkoffamenetwork.com and click on the Friday football icon to listen in. When you do you’ll learn who the Jets feel is their most deserving player not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, hear why often overlooked Frank Gore is quietly running his way into the Hall and get the lowdown from our Dr. Data, Rick Gosselin, on penalty flags gone wild in Week 1 and why the blizzard of yellow flags isn’t likely to end soon.