Here is a deeper look at The Telegraph's conversation with Georgia Tech A-back Roddy Jones, who imparts his words of wisdom to potential Georgia Tech recruit DeAndre Smelter. Remember to check out Wednesday's story about Jones' words for any recruit going through the decision Smelter will make in the coming weeks.
Smelter is a multi-sport athlete who has a strong chance of turning pro in baseball right out of high school, but could also go to one of the nation's top colleges for football. A 39-round selection in the major league draft (sure, it's not quite as high as the first or second round discussions revolving around Smelter), Jones remembers his experience two years ago, as he grappled with the decision of playing either sport. In the end, he chose to go to Georgia Tech, and has become a staple in the Yellow Jackets option offense.
Here are some words of advice he'd pass on to Smelter, and his own reflections on his experiences with the football vs. baseball debate.
(On reaching his own decision)
"At that time, having gone through the whole process of the draft, and having talked to teams and that kind of stuff, we kind of decided — my parents and I sat down and we decided — that my best future was going to be to go to Georgia Tech to get an education and play football. That was just the feeling we got about being comfortable with our decision. Every situation is different, though. We’ve had a number of kids around this area get drafted and have chosen to go to other places, and I guess the biggest and most recent one is Donovan Tate from Cartersville who was going to go to North Carolina. Obviously, getting drafted third overall, he’s going to go play baseball.
But you know, every situation is different, and it’s really what you feel comfortable with, and what your family feels comfortable with."
(After hearing that Smelter can throw mid-90s, and could be a first-round pick)
"Oh, it’s going to be (a) real difficult (decision). If you go first or second round in the major league baseball draft, it makes your decision much more difficult than the one I had, and my decision was difficult enough. It’s all about following your heart. If it’s not really into baseball, and it’s just something you end up being good at, then eventually down the road that’s something that will catch up. But if your heart is really into it, and you’ve got the talents and you’ve got the opportunity, then you should take it."
(Jones on his own opportunity to play both baseball and football at Tech)
"(Former football) Coach (Chan) Gailey and I had talked about it throughout recruiting, and I was actually recruited by (baseball) Coach (Danny) Hall, as well. I came down here for a showcase, and he saw me and he started talking to me, and I told him at the time that I already had an offer from football, as well. So we had been talking throughout the recruiting process, and even after I got up here, we continued talking a bit. And then after my redshirt year, it was just, football was so much that I decided playing both wasn’t for me; at least not that year. I wanted to get my feet wet with the new system and Coach Johnson, and then one thing led to another and it didn’t end up happening this past year. It’s just one of those things that you might look back on and say ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda,’ but I’m comfortable with my decision."
(Would you want to play baseball again after your college football career is over? You'll be in good shape still)
"Possibly. I still keep in contact with my old baseball coach, so they always put in my ear, ‘You can still play baseball, you can still play baseball.’ So that was always a thought. But it was kind of a thought that wasn’t given a whole lot of weight.
"If the whole football thing weren’t to work out, I’m not going to count out anything. Maybe go to a minor league tryout or something. I still know a good number of people who are involved in the major league circles who could help, but as of right now, I’m focused on football."
(On how hard it was giving up baseball...at least for now)
"You don’t realize how hard it is until that season rolls around again. I still go to a lot of the baseball games, and I miss them a lot. Baseball was the first sport I started playing, and it’s so much different than football. It’s kind of a getaway sometimes. It’s definitely something I miss. Every now and again, I go to a batting cage and hit around for a little bit, and throw with my little brother, or some of the players on my old coaches’ teams.
(Jones played with Tech short stop Derek Dietrich while in high school. The two remain friends to this day, and talk about Jones' baseball career)
"He and I joke about it every now and again. I say I can hit further than him, and he says he can run faster than me.
(On the advice he would give any football recruit in Smelter's position)
"It probably would be to look at the big picture. Look at the future, and don’t let anybody else influence you. Have your parents and your close friends; I’d really just say your parents as your advisors. And don’t let anybody else make the decision for you. Ultimately, it’s your decision, and there’s pluses and minuses to both of them. Obviously, college football has all the hype and the hoopla, and if you get drafted in professional baseball, it’s got the money."
(On what people were saying to him to entice him to chose either sport)
"The football people were saying, ‘You’re going to play football at Georgia Tech, you have such a great opportunity, you’re one step closer to the NFL, yada, yad, yada. And all the baseball people were saying, you’ve got all these baseball tools, you can make it in the major leagues, you’ve got what it takes. So everybody kind of has their own opinion about what you should do, and how you’re going to fit in wherever you go, but ultimately, you have to wash all that stuff out. People are going to make both of them sound great, and other people are going to make the other one sound horrible. I had one of my coaches who played minor league ball tell me about minor league life. A lot of times it’s not exactly easy. It’s not all glamorous really until you get to the major leagues. And as far as college football, there’s a lot that can happen. You could get hurt, yada, yada, yada."
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