As former West Virginia/current Jets quarterback Geno Smith embarks on his NFL career, he’s getting advice from a couple of former West Virginia players who went to the NFL before him.
Former NFL defensive tackle John Thornton and former NFL cornerback Charles Fisher, both of whom played college football in Morgantown, have been advising Smith as he transitions to the NFL. Thornton, whom we’ve known for several years, confirmed in a telephone interview that he and Fisher are indeed working with Smith.
Currently, that entails organizing the upcoming process of interviewing agents, which will occur on Tuesday and Wednesday. In addition to Rick Smith of Priority Sports, David Dunn and Joby Branion of Athletes First, and Joel Segal, Eugene Parker also is expected to make a presentation. The fledgling CAA/Roc Nation joint venture could be part of the process, but we’ve gotten mixed information on that point. (It’s possible that Roc Nation will be involved, without CAA.)
Thornton also addressed persistent rumors that he and Fisher will be steering Smith to Priority Sports.
“I know people think we’re sending him to Priority, but that’s not the case,” Thornton said. He explained that the decision of another one of his clients, Chiefs receiver Jon Baldwin, to hire Priority Sports has fueled speculation that Smith will, too. Thornton pointed out that other players he is advising, including former Marshall receiver Aaron Dobson, a second-round pick of the Patriots, did not hire Priority Sports.
Thornton said he’s in the process of becoming certified by the NFLPA, so that he can become a full-service agent for the players he assists. And he’s sensitive to the perceptions and the realities of the business.
“I’m trying to protect these kids,” Thornton said. “At the end of the day, everybody says they’re trying to help these guys and they’re not.”
With plenty of negative information piling up regarding Geno Smith and no one (including the Jets) working the media to push the other side of it, the sooner Smith hires an agent who can not only stop but also reverse the feeding frenzy, the better.