By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
A day after he was snubbed by the entire National Football League in the first round of its annual draft, West Virginia University quarterback Geno Smith was selected with the 39th pick by the New York Jets.
It was in many ways a stunning surprise, for the Jets had a strong controversy last year between starter Mark Sanchez, who struggled badly, and former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow of Florida. They also had an experienced quarterback David Garrard on their roster.
Smith was expected to be the first quarterback drafted but Buffalo surprised everyone by using the 16th pick in the first on Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel, who was not listed among the first five prospects listed by most of the draft analysts.
Television continued to show Smith waiting throughout the long, difficult evening on Thursday, and caught him leaving early with his family when it became apparent he would not be selected.
Word was that Smith was going to return home to Florida but said on Friday that was not the case, that he was leaving to enjoy the rest of the night with his mother, Octravier, who was celebrating her 40th birthday.
Smith set all the passing record at West Virginia during three seasons as a starter, the last two under Dana Holgorsen in his Air Raid offense.
The draft was continuing and it was expected that Smith’s favorite target, high school and college teammate, Stedman Bailey, would be selected before Friday’s second and third round was over.