Before there was Odell Beckham, Jr. there was Devin Smith, now a rookie with the New York Jets.
Beckham, of course is the New York Giants wide receiver who pulled off one of the most spectacular catches in NFL history last year in a Sunday night game at the Dallas Cowboys. In what was then his rookie season, the former first round picked extended back to make a one-handed touchdown grab while falling backwards. But two years before that play Smith, then a wide receiver at Ohio State, had his own one-handed effort in the back of the end zone against Miami (Ohio) in an early season home game.
His catch was instantly labeled as the “catch of the year” in college football and for good reason.
On this play, Smith was in the back of the end zone with a defender draped on him and he managed to leap up, grab the ball over his head with one hand and keep his feet in bounds.
“It was one of those things where I’m like ‘Oh man, the ball is going over my head’ so let me just throw my hand up. So I put my hand up and caught the ball,” Smith told Metro.
“That was literally the only way I could get it. Throwing up two hands, I don’t think I would have had it. One hand was the only one. I see the ball hit my hand, I felt the ball and squeezed and came down with it.”
When asked if he could do it again, Smith flashed a smile and shrugged, saying “I’ve done it plenty of times.” The grin lasted for several moments after he answered.
Sadely for football fans, this Saturday’s game between the Jets and the Giants won’t feature the Jets rookie as Smith suffered a ribs injury early in training camp. There is no timetable for a return but he thinks it will be soon.
As for seeing Beckham up-close and in-person, Smith seems more interested in his own course of action. Before the injury in training camp, it look like the slot position was his to lose and when he does return to the team, he’ll likely have the inside track for that role.
Smith has speed and was one of the top gunners in the nation last year, a role he said the Jets might ask him to do again this year.
A 4.42 time in the 40 and a 4.15 in the 20-yard shuttle is a testament to the kind of speed that can break a game wide-open.
But as for comparisons to Beckham or trying to emulate the Giants wide receivers skill set, Smith wants to set his own course.
“I don’t look up to him or try to model myself behind him because I’m my own player. You just got out there and play. I don’t worry too much about the plays like that being made. It happens. It is the game of football, they got a lot of guys who are very athletic, can do a lot of things with the football in their hands,” Smith said.
“For me it was just one of those players that it was just natural. Jut threw my hands up there and made the catch.”
He did like Beckham’s catch last year, one that was played on SportsCenter seemingly in a loop.
“I thought it was sweet,” Smith said.