Football: Former Ohio players reunite at Ohio Pro Day

 

Ohio wide receiver Sebastian Smith runs the 40-yard dash in Walter Fieldhouse during Ohio Football’s Pro Day on Wednesday, March 29.

 

As wide receiver drills ended Wednesday at Ohio’s Pro Day, Sebastian Smith, Jordan Reid and former tight end Malik Rodriguez began to walk off the field of Walter Fieldhouse.

Wide receivers coach Dwayne Dixon stood off to the side on the field, waiting for his former players to join him for a photo. The four smiled for the picture, and then Dixon stood off to the side again, letting the three take a photo together.

The day was over, but the group’s bond was not.

“Everybody calls this home, and that’s what it feels like,” Smith said. “Doesn’t matter  because I’ve been gone so long, you come back, it’s like home.”

Smith hasn’t returned to Athens since the end of the 2015-16 season, and he’s been training in Dallas with Carlton Malone at Michael Johnson Performance. As he returned to Athens for Pro Day, though, he was excited to see Reid and Rodriguez.

The trio still talk to each other, and Reid says the group talks with each other on a weekly basis.

“When we find time to, we find time to FaceTime each other,” Reid said. “Or send a text like ‘hey, how you doing man?’”

The group returned to Athens, their paths crossing again because of one common aspect of their lives: playing for the Bobcats.

But being a former player for the Bobcats entails another commonality: playing under Dixon, who is perhaps the most interesting personality on the team.

“He was just like ‘good job, everybody caught the rock,’” Rodriguez said. “Catch and tuck, sprint off field.”

What about “high and tight?”

“High and tight,” Rodriguez added. “Same things coach Dixon says.”

Though each player is going through the draft process, each of them are going through it differently. Smith has trained in Dallas, and NFL teams want to see him run the 40-yard dash. At 6-foot-3, Smith was a possession receiver at Ohio, not relying on top-end speed.

Smith, though, is also bigger than he was during the regular season. In his senior season, he weighed 206 pounds. But on Wednesday, he weighed in at 219 pounds.

“I ran decent in my opinion,” Smith said. “Maybe I can slim down a little bit and be even faster.”

While Smith is looking to increase his speed, Rodriguez is looking for an agent. He hasn’t hired an agent yet, and he said he planned on hiring one after the pro day.

Reid, who trained in Mississippi, is rated No. 194 out of 442 wide receivers on nfldraftscout.com. He isn’t a big receiver like Smith or Rodriguez, but he does pride himself on his route running skills.

“I feel like I came out here, caught the ball well, ran and finished pretty well,” Reid said.

Each player has had different experiences during the training process, but the process itself is what has been most exciting. The trio went through Ohio’s program together, and now, they have gone through a process they’ve been dreaming about since they were kids.

“I mean, I’ve been playing since I was six years old,” Rodriguez said. “And to be able to follow my dream all the way through, there’s a lot of people who can’t do that.”

Even if none of them are drafted, they will have gone through the process. Rodriguez was pleased he didn’t have any regrets. Reid, who saw how enduring the process was, was glad it was over. And Smith was just grateful for the opportunity itself.

As Pro Day ended, the group, who were together for the afternoon, were off in their own spots at the field house. Smith posed for another picture, and Reid could be seen doing an interview.

But they couldn’t have just seen each other in a football setting, though, right? Perhaps they would do something together in person — FaceTime would have to wait.

“Maybe go out to eat, but that’s really about it,” Reid said. “Get me a fat burrito at Gran Ranchero or something man, something nice.”

@CameronFields_

cf710614@ohio.edu

 

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