SHAY HODGE TALKING DEION SMITH'S FRESHMAN PROGRESS
Updated: Oct 7, 2021
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
LONN: What were Deion's final feelings heading out of Fall Camp? Did he have any spring experiences of note?
SHAY: He felt good coming out of camp; He felt that he would play and have a big role. I had to ask him once camp was over 'how good was he doing in practice' because fans were naming every other freshman except Deion as of who would play.
I was never worried, but I had to ask him to make sure he was handling business.
He played in the spring game and had 2 catches if I remember right.
LONN: He did look really strong during the Spring Game, fighting through jams and actually putting Darren Evans on his ass. He looked fantastic and was not even at 100%.
Do you think the off-season motivated Deion, knowing the attention was going to these other guys?
SHAY: I’m not sure he knew the fan’s reports or Twitter reports about the fans opinions on who would play and etc... so I would say no.
LONN: After he didn't appear vs UCLA, had a few catches vs McNeese, did you sense he was building to this performance vs Central Michigan? (Vs CMU, Deion caught his first 5 targets for 135 yards & a pair of long 1st quarter TDs)
SHAY: Yeah I knew it was coming very soon, now I didn’t think it would be that big of an outburst. He blew me away with that one. I’ve been seeing this kid do things like that since the first day I met him and watched him elevate year after year, adding to his game. It was only a matter of time before he showed the world who he was.
LONN: What has he taken from your training and used specifically to elevate his game?? I'm sure we saw plenty of your tricks these first five weeks.
SHAY: It’s a lot, but also the same stuff he’s being taught daily with Mickey Joseph. Basically I taught him how to play the receiver position from the standpoint of a college receiver/pro receiver.
I remember Joe Moorhead said, when I took him to a Mississippi State camp, that 'I had that kid so far ahead of everybody else to the point it’s crazy. He’s way more polished than all the kids here, Shay...he looks like a junior in college right now.'
Big praise there and it meant a lot.
It’s simple though, just going from square 1 of your stance and start with the right hand placement on how to catch the ball.
I really harp on the fundamentals with my kids.
Then, it’s on to the elite skill parts of the training like different types of releases, different types of run after the catch drills, off target passes, how to lean and use defenders' momentum against them, it’s so much (laughs).
He only used his releases, YAC moments, and off target catching Saturday. It's way more to come.
LONN: What do you think of LSU's receivers overall right now? What are they succeeding at and where are they falling short?
SHAY: Honestly they are loaded. LSU seems to have every piece they need at that position: speed guys, route runners, jitter bugs, big receivers, balance receivers.
They have a nice room no doubt about it.
I doubt they all are still there after this year; talented room means transfers because of the lack of balls to go around. I hate that part but it’s reality.... In most cases.
LONN: What was the first thing you told Deion after CMU??
SHAY: "Man, how does it feel to explode like that? Man, we been talking about this forever, and now the nation knows who Deion Smith is." Just how proud of him I was and etc!
LONN: Was Deion's younger brother Dan inspired by his huge game?
SHAY: For sure! Called to go train the next day LOL!
LONN: What are your realistic expectations for Deion's freshman season?
SHAY: No expectation, I just want him to play well, get his feet wet of what the SEC is all about, and project himself into next season on an upward trajectory. Well...I do want him to be freshman All-American.
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
OUR FIRST INTERVIEW WITH SHAY HODGE
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