A year ago, Harrison Butker missed his first kick at Georgia Tech’s Pro Day, but went on to have a tremendous workout session that paved the way to a successful season.
Will receiver Ricky Jeune be this year’s guy?
Butker impressed the Carolina Panthers’ scout enough that he was the club’s seventh-round draft choice, the only kicker chosen in the draft, and pushed incumbent Graham Gano until the final day of preseason. Butker was one of the team’s final cuts, but was quickly picked up by Kansas City when its kicker was injured. He responded by making 38 if 42 field goals for the Chiefs and making the NFL’s All-Rookie team.
When Georgia Tech holds its 2018 Pro Day on Friday, there will be 14 players trying to do exactly what Butker did a year ago: Get noticed, get drafted, get signed.
Those who have committed to participate in the workouts are: defensive backs Lance and Lawrence Austin, Step Durham and Corey Griffin; linebackers P.J. Davis and Terrell Lewis; defensive linemen Antonio Simmons, KeShun Freeman and Francis Kallon; running back J.J. Green; wide receivers Jeune and Antonio Messick; and offensive linemen Freddie Burden and Shamire Devine.
Davis, Kallon and Burden finished in 2016 and attended Pro Day last year. Davis spent some time in camp with Jacksonville and Kallon was an undrafted free agent with Pittsburgh. Burden’s chances were sidetracked by a broken ankle he suffered in the Taxslayer Bowl.
The best chance may belong to Jeune, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound receiver. Jeune is ranked as the No. 37 receiver available, a number that might be higher if he played in an offense that threw the ball more often.
Jeune could be the program’s next NFL receiver, joining all-pros like Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, along with the likes of Kevin Cone, Stephen Hill, Darren Waller and Macon’s DeAndre Smelter.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper finds Jeune an intriguing choice and expects him to get drafted, probably between the fourth and seventh rounds.
“I think Ricky Jeune is the most interesting one because they’ve had a history or producing some receivers,” Kiper said. “I think he is a guy that fights for the ball, he makes plays after the catch, he’ll block very effectively. I think Ricky Jeune is that under-the-radar wide receiver somebody’s going to get, probably Day 4. I think he could have a nice career in the NFL.”
Jeune had 25 catches his senior year, as the Yellow Jackets ranked near the bottom of the NCAA in passing yards. Jeune averaged 21.8 yards per reception and had eight touchdown catches. He led the team in receptions his final three season and finished his career with 74 catches and a 20.2-yard average.
The other player mostly likely to draw interest is Devine, a guard with an NFL body (6-6, 380) who began to come into his own last fall. Devine began the season as a role player, but emerged as a starter and kept the job. He was named ACC Lineman of the Week after the Wake Forest game and was honorable mention on the All-ACC team.