No experience playing cornerback in high school? No worries when Nick Saban is your college head coach.
Anthony Averett Jr. arrived at the University of Alabama without a set position. Five years later, he leaves as one of the top-rated CBs in the 2018 NFL Draft.
The process, as Saban would say, wasn’t an easy one.
After a redshirt year, Averett began receiving snaps at wide receiver during spring practice in 2014. The conversion experiment was short-lived, as Averett quickly returned to the secondary. He appeared in only one game that season and received action almost exclusively on special teams rather than defense in 2015.
“I had to start from the ground up,” Averett said. “I don’t think I really realized how hard it was going to be.”
At the same time Averett was trying to get his footing, Alabama was recruiting other elite-level cornerbacks who too were competing for snaps. Averett admitted he considered transferring to a school where he’d have a better chance for more playing time.
“I was a guy that was the man in New Jersey in high school and I thought I was going to come right in and play right away [at Alabama],” Averett said. “It obviously didn’t work. It was just hard, but I have a strong family. They told me to be strong, don’t give up, keep doing what you’re doing and work hard at it.
Shurmur told reporters that he was encouraged by the fact Beckham showed up, and said he didn’t think the recent trade talk (which was generated by the bosses of Shurmur and Beckham) would be a distraction.
“I’m not worried about it,” Shurmur said, via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. ” I really believe Odell is a professional. He wants to be great.”
There’s still plenty to be worried about, of course. Until he signs a new contract (with the Giants or anyone), there will be reason to wonder how committed to any cause he’ll be. And until he shows up on the field in the fall (with the Giants or anyone), that speculation will continue.
Beckham’s covered in case of injury while he’s working out with the Giants, a protection he’ll lack if he works out on his own. Last year, he split time between the Giants program and working out on his own, so the fact he showed up for the first day of school is too soon to declare all is well, and Shurmur seems to know that.
“I’m not overthinking this, he said. “This is the first day of work. I think it’s important that Odell is here. I look forward to Odell getting one day better.”