Thanks to an unexpected donut hole in the weekend schedule, I attended Saturday’s open-air Arena Football League game between West Virginia and Baylor. And while the goal is to confine the conversation to pro football (and not to justify a write-off for the tickets to the game), two guys look to be headed for big things at the next level.
Geno Smith looks and plays the part of a big-time quarterback, possessing the passing and running skills that have revolutionized NFL offenses. For the day, he completed 88 percent of his passes; for the season, he’s at 83.4 percent.
Also for the season, Smith has 20 touchdown passes (he had eight on Saturday) and zero interceptions.
Florio Jr. and I spent the second half of the game on the sideline soaking in the nuances of the game, and Smith already has a Cam Newton-style aura. (Last year, not this year.) Physically imposing, vocal, and above all else highly talented, Smith seems destined to be next year’s next big thing.
But Smith may not have been the best player on the field. Williams, the Baylor receiver, could end up being next year’s Justin Blackmon. Though listed at only 6-2, Williams looks like he’s bigger than that — and runs like he’s a lot smaller. Always open (Baylor should have just thrown it to him on every play), Williams had 16 catches for 314 yards in the pinball-machine game that was headed at one point for a multiple-overtime, triple-digit final score.
Yes, the display was fueled in large part by defenses that looked dreadful at times. (Or, as the case may be, most of the time.) But Smith and Williams stood out among the many impressive weapons that were on display. As soon as next year, they could be standing out at the next level.