By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
Most people believe that West Virginia University’s Geno Smith will be the first quarterback taken in this year’s draft, almost certainly in the first round, but there was a scouting report this week in Pro Football Weekly by Nolan Nawrocki that knocked him.
The scouting report by Nawrocki ripped Smith for a questionable football IQ, a marginal work ethic and an inability to inspire teammates — among other negatives.
This is what Nawrocki wrote:
Geno Smith is not a student of the game. Nonchalant field presence — does not command respect from teammates and cannot inspire. Mild practice demeanor — no urgency. Not committed or focused — marginal work ethic. Interviewed poorly at the Combine and did not show an understanding of concepts on the white board.
Needed to be coddled in college — cannot handle hard coaching.
A cross between Akili Smith and Aaron Brooks, Smith is a gimmick, overhyped product of the system lacking the football savvy, work habits and focus to cement a starting job and could drain energy from a QB room. Will be overdrafted and struggle to produce against NFL defensive complexities.
This is not what most people believe about Smith, who on Tuesday told USA Today that the report is “untrue in all things.”
His quarterback coach last year at WVU, Jake Spavital, who has moved on to coach Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziell at Texas A&M, was quoted as saying this is untrue.
Smith heard about the scurrilous report from Spavital.
“I was laughing with Geno about it Monday night and I said, ‘Welcome to the business,’” Spavital told USA Today.
He called him a coach’s “dream come true” and said he was one of the hardest working QBs he has ever seen.
He also described him as “competitive and passionate” with an “awesome” personality.
WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen also doesn’t agree with the assessment of Smith.
“I don’t read it,” Holgorsen said of USA Today, “but it was brought to my attention.”
Holgorsen wouldn’t comment on it but indicated it couldn’t be right or Smith wouldn’t have been invited to the NFL draft.
And his assessment of Smith.
“He’ll be a great pro,” Holgorsen said.
o o o o o o
There were a couple of setbacks for the Mountaineers since spring practice began.
Redshirt freshman Adam Pankey, an offensive tackle who figured to see a lot of playing time this year, underwent knee surgery for an ACL, and Holgorsen said he didn’t expect him back until September or October.
Holgorsen said that Pankey had shown more improvement than anyone else on the offensive line, so this is not a good thing at a position where there is not much depth.
And then sophomore defensive lineman Korey Harris, who had some playing time last year, was suspended indefinitely by Holgorsen.
He gave no details as to why he was suspended.
o o o o o o
CBS Sports is reporting that former WVU quarterback Pat White has cancelled a workout with the New York Giants and is taking a physical exam with the Washington Redskins on Wednesday. If he passes he is expected to sign with the Redskins, who hope he can serve as backup to quarterback Robert Griffin III.
White, of course, was very similar to Griffin when he played at WVU, leading the Mountaineers to four bowl victories and setting the NCAA record for career rushing yards by a quarterback.
Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.