|'Nothing but Positives for Baylor'
3:35 P.M. WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22, 2009
JERRY HILL (E-MAIL)
Baylor could buy a billboard on Time Square or dish out millions of dollars for a commercial during the Super Bowl, and never come close to the publicity the school is getting from Jason Smith.
The 6-foot-5, 305-pound walking advertisement is expected to be taken with one of the first few picks in Saturday's NFL draft and could even go No. 1 overall to the Detroit Lions.
Smith is rated the best in a class of offensive tackles that's considered the strength of this year's class - Eugene Monroe from Virginia, Michael Oher from Mississippi and Andre Smith from Alabama are all expected to go in the first 10 picks.
"We could get a room full of the smartest marketers in Texas and say, `Hey, what's the best way we can market Baylor University?' And we couldn't come up with a better scenario than what's going to happen Saturday in New York," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "Jason's a great person that represents a great university. It's nothing but positives for Baylor."
So how big of a deal is this? Consider this: Baylor hasn't had a player drafted in the first round since defensive lineman Daryl Gardener was taken with the 20th pick overall by the Miami Dolphins in 1996 and has never had the No. 1 pick overall.
In the last 12 years of the draft, offensive guard Leonard Davis from Texas was the Big 12 Conference's highest selection when he was taken with the second pick overall by the Arizona Cardinals in 2001.
"It means that as a prospective athlete, you can come to Baylor . . . and you can get to the highest position in the NFL, which is No. 1 overall," Smith said. "I just feel that I'm a walking testimony for guys that here at Baylor that want to make to the NFL that hey, this is what you have to do. This is the standard that's been set."
The other part of the equation is that Baylor couldn't ask for a better ambassador. I mean the guy has a BU tattoo on his right arm.
"The more you talk about me, the more you talk about Baylor," said Smith, who's taking Briles, co-offensive coordinator Randy Clements and strength coach Kaz Kazdi with him to New York. "And the more some kid in high school sees you can go to Baylor and you can be just like Jason. How do I do that? Well, go get the secrets. They'll tell you when you get there. Commit, sign, get in here and play football. We can get you to where Jason is, but you've got to do your part."
Valparaiso Coach Homer Drew is One Proud Papa
12:15 P.M. THURSDAY, APRIL 2, 2009
JERRY HILL (E-MAIL)
Don't even try to wipe that smile off Homer Drew's face.
The longtime head coach at Valparaiso University in Indiana, Drew also happens to be the father of Baylor head coach Scott Drew. And you can tell that he's enjoyed watching the Bears' magical postseason run to the NIT championship game.
"Scott is a shining example of what hard work will do in any profession," said Homer Drew, who has won over 600 games in his career. "If you work hard, good things will happen."
The elder Drew was especially proud of the way his son and the Bears weathered the storm of a difficult stretch during the regular season, when they lost 10 of their last 12. The key adjustments, he said, were the team sharing the ball more and switching to a zone defense that involved 7-footers Josh Lomers and Mamadou Diene more.
Homer said Valpo's trip to Waco for the Dr Pepper Invitational in December 1992 eventually opened the door for his son to return as the program's head coach 11 years later.
"We met (Dr Pepper CEO and Baylor regent) Jim Turner and became quick friends," Homer said. "Baylor's such a special place, and they really made us feel at home. And then when Scott got the offer to coach at Baylor, we sat down and talked about it and we both thought it would be a great fit."
The Drew family, including Scott's brother, Bryce, will be in full force for Thursday night's game at Madison Square Garden.
"I'm drained after I watch his games," Homer said, "because I want so badly for them to do well."