One of the NFL’s best tight ends credits his youth development to playing multiple sports and says sport specialization is sending kids down a bad path.
In the week’s leading up to Super Bowl L, Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen went on the NFL Network to talk about sports specialization.
Olsen, who played basketball and track & field in high school, along with football, explained why he is a fan of youngsters playing multiple sports.
“I think we’re moving down a bad spot,” he said on the network about specialization. “My kids, they love football, but I’ve made it clear we’re going to play all sports. First of all, from a physical development, there’s a lot of research that suggests multiple sports help develop a kid.
“Even more than that, just from a social environment. Being around different types of people, being around different environments, having multiple coaches. Being around different things, that’s how you learn and grow up.
“You learn to be around people you may not agree with, be around a coach where you have to do what he says, even though you don’t like it. I just think that’s so important. I don’t think you want to stick kids in one box for their whole life and they’ve never seen the big picture.”
Patrick Henry junior Kaleb Smith has not only listened to Olsen’s words but heeded his advice.
As a result, the 6-3, 195-pounder is starting to reap the rewards of his hard work and he is not done yet.
Smith, who is smack dab in the middle of the baseball season for the Patriots, visited Virginia for football over the weekend and Monday announced he had received his first football offer from the Cavaliers.
“This offer was important for a number of reasons,” Smith said. “Yes, it’s my first offer, which makes it special. It’s also pretty special coming from an ACC school. I was really impressed with the sincerity of the coaches. I know that this offer could lead to more interest and potentially other offers. It also gives me more incentive to work harder and push to get even bigger, stronger and faster.”
Smith captured Patrick Henry coach Bryan Davis’ attention as a freshman and has worked furiously to get better.
“He will probably play safety or outside linebacker because of his size and range,” Davis said. “Plus, he has good size.”
But Davis said Smith is the total package and that is what attracts a quality program like Virginia and certainly more will follow.
“He has the pedigree,” Davis added. “His cousin [Kerry Wynn] plays for the New York Giants. He is a good kid and comes from a good family.
“Then, there is his size, which at 6-3, 195-pounds is an asset. He runs well and is well spoken. The key in today’s recruiting world is coaches want to get players to their school to check see if what they see on film translate on the field. So they check out 40 time, vertical and strength.”
Davis said Cavaliers coach Bronco Mendenhall, who is meticulous in nature, must of liked what he saw over the weekend because he invited Smith up to Charlottesville on Monday.
The end result was a monstrous first offer.
This past season, his first playing on both sides of the ball, Smith had 66 tackles, three tackles for a loss, three pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and an interception on defense. As a wide receiver, he had 15 receptions and six touchdowns.
“He got a lot better over this past season,” Davis said. “This was his first year in the offense. But over the years he has become more precise in covering and tackling one defense. On offense, if we had developed drop-back passing attack, we would have used him more, but he was still effective for us.”
As much as football has been moved to the front-burner for the Smith family, the junior still has baseball season to deal with where the Patriots are currently 4-1.
“This is baseball season so I will continue to give 100 percent in practice and games,” Smith added. “All of my visits will have to work around my baseball schedule.”
According to the two-sport athlete, he is currently working on his late spring and summer plans.
“I’m working with parents now to come with schedule on which schools visit from this point on,” he said. “I do plan on going back to UVA next week to watch their practices.
“My focus this offseason was to participate in some local camps so that I could establish some quality numbers and compete against other talented athletes in the area. I had a pretty good showing in two local camps already. The next camp that I plan on attending is the Rivals Camp in May.”
Besides all this, Smith will join classmates Hunter Hart and Terrance Oxendine, who by the way both play baseball too, to form a formidable skilled-player trio returning to play football at Patrick Henry.
“Going 8-4 only adds confidence our ability, as a program, to be successful,” Smith stated. “We are all looking forward to next season.”
Davis said it shows because 25-30 players have consistently showed up for afternoon weight-lifting training.