There’s no easier way to point out the differences between the NFL and college football than by pointing to the list of Heisman Trophy winners.
College football’s biggest award doesn’t always go to the best player in the country, but it always goes to a player who has reached the highest levels of success at the collegiate level. Names like Jason White, Eric Crouch, Matt Leinart and Danny Wuerffel are all reminders that success at one level guarantees nothing at the next level.
Troy Smith’s name belongs on that list as well. The former Ohio State quarterback is unemployed again after getting cut by the Steelers, making it three teams that have moved on from the 2006 Heisman winner who spent last season as a backup in the UFL. As mentioned in Thusday’s one-liners, Smith told Bill Lubinger of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Pittsburgh’s decision isn’t going to stop him from keeping the NFL dream alive.
“We’ll just keep plugging and plugging,” Smith said.
Smith told Lubinger that Mike Tomlin told him that he was capable of starting in the league and that they were cutting him in June to give him a chance to sign with another team. Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome, who drafted Smith, says the same thing about Smith’s ability to play in the NFL. One has to take such comments with a grain of salt since neither Newsome, who signed Curtis Painter this offseason, nor Tomlin had any interest in actually having Smith play for them.
With injuries a fact of life, Smith may get another shot at wearing a NFL uniform and holding a clipboard. Anything beyond that seems like a real long shot after six years of shrugged shoulders from most corners of the league.