Ex-Pitt receiver Street doesn't listen to draft doubters
The day before the NFL Draft — an event that will shape the rest of his life — former Pitt wide receiver Devin Street remains calm.
He plays a position where even record-setting pass catchers are getting lost in all the talented traffic.
Not considered an elite wide receiver, he stands on a 6-foot-27⁄8, 196-pound frame that was good enough to set a Pitt standard for career receptions (202, 13.4 percent more than the previous record holder, Latef Grim). Yet scouts wish he was bigger, stronger and faster.
He played in every game from 2010-2012, but shoulder and ankle injuries and a hematoma on his elbow forced him to miss three starts last season.
Predictably, here comes the scrutiny that's as intense as anything he received from opposing secondaries.
“He's got some skills,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “I'd like to see him get a little bit stronger. But he can run. He's got size.
“If he could just beef up, get stronger, win some of those jump balls, I think he's got a chance to play.”
Mayock's prediction: “He's probably going to go in about the fifth round.”
Gil Brandt, who rates prospects for NFL.com after a long career as a personnel man for the Dallas Cowboys, said Street deserves to hear his name called before the end of the draft.
“There are so many wide receivers that I hope he is drafted because he is a quality player,” Brandt said.
Street posted 40-yard times of 4.53 and 4.47 seconds at the NFL Combine that are considered average for his position, but he ran away from enough defenders to register 2,901 receiving yards, third in school history.
“He doesn't have the great speed that you would like to have,” Brandt said, “but he catches the ball really well.”
Street barely listens to all the talk before going back to his daily workouts.
“My dad (Ted Street, his position coach at Bethlehem Liberty High School) always taught me to control what I can control,” Street said. “Ever since I was a kid, he has always pushed me to be the greatest I can be. ... Enjoy what's coming your way, and don't get too fixated on it.
“Some guys get excited about dollar signs. That's not what I'm about.”
Street became a team leader at Pitt, one day calling players into a huddle when practice attitudes lagged. His two most memorable receptions last season indicate a reckless nature:
• At Virginia Tech, he made a stumbling, 33-yard catch along the sideline, juggling the football while failing to notice safety Kyshoen Jarrett, who delivered a crushing blow. No penalty was called, but coach Paul Chryst questioned the legality of the hit and Street missed the next game with a shoulder injury.
• Against Notre Dame, Street caught a short pass, broke away from safety Matthias Farley and raced 63 yards down the sideline, diving head-first into the end zone to avoid defensive back KeiVarae Russell.
Those are highlights, but Street also wants to be defined by his work behind closed doors.
“My dad has always taught me there is no substitute for hard work,” he said. “Continue to wake up at 5:30 a.m. when no one else is.
“If you want it more than someone else, you will definitely get it.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
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