Found August 08, 2013 on Fox Sports Ohio:
KENT, Ohio - When the St. Louis Rams traded up in the first round of last April's NFL Draft to select West Virginia speedster Tavon Austin at No. 8, Dri Archer was watching. Archer, though, kept getting interrupted by phone calls and text messages. He had lots of people telling him that he could be in Austin's position next year. After coming from obscurity and a year away from football to post ridiculous numbers playing a variety of roles at Kent State last year, Archer was thinking the same thing. Austin is listed at 5'9, 174. Kent State lists Archer at 5'8, 175. Austin ran a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine last February after a 17-touchdown season as a utility man in a wide-open West Virginia offense that knew if it could get Austin into space, he wouldn't be caught. If anybody, anywhere, was getting from Point A to goal line last year faster than Austin, it was probably Archer or Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas. Archer finished the 2012 season with 2,577 all-purpose yards and 24 total touchdowns. He made several All-American teams as a return man even though Mid-American Conference teams just stopped kicking to him at mid-season; they also started gearing their defenses to recognize where he was first, worrying about everybody else later. When Kent State's season ended, Archer had a decision to make. He submitted paperwork to the NFL Draft's underclassman advisory committee, a group of scouting-community types who evaluate potential prospects and use their connections to try to pass along the best possible information. A low-round grade came back to Archer. Through other avenues came word that the eyes of the NFL wanted to see him improve his receiving skills and punt-return ability and prove he wasn't a one-year wonder. Archer talked to his mother, to his coaches and to his teammates. He'd really only been seriously recruited out of high school by Kent State, had missed 2011 due to an administrative academic issue and to suddenly have the opportunity to go to the NFL, he admitted, "was overwhelming." And certainly worth losing sleep over, which he did. "I weighed my options, and it came down to what came back from the committee wasn't what I wanted to hear," Archer said. "I had some unfinished business at school anyway, so I'm cool with it. "I thought about my degree, and I'm probably getting that this December. I thought about how Kent State wanted me when no one else really did. I've been through three coaches (at Kent State), through the good and the bad. The NFL, that's a dream and it's incredible. But deep down seeing it through in Kent was something I wanted to do." Making the decision more complicated was that Kent State went through its second coaching change of Archer's time as Darrell Hazell left for Purdue. Hazell, who had experience with underclass draft entry from his time as wide receivers coach at Ohio State, told Archer to make his own decision but thought he'd benefit from another season of college football. "I usually tell guys that if they're going to be picked in the first or second round, they should go," Hazell said. "I knew Dri had a tough decision, but I think he made the right one. He still hasn't played a ton of football, and one more season isn't only going to make him a better and smarter player but it is going to give those NFL evaluators a longer look at just how special he can be." More NFL scouts started stopping by Kent State last fall, curious to get an in-person look at the guy who was running past just about everybody on tape. How exactly they graded him then will remain a secret. Here's how new Kent State coach Paul Haynes graded his return for 2013: As an absolute recruiting coup. "It's huge, but I had nothing to do with him coming back," Haynes said. "I came in and didn't know him, so anything I would have told him meant nothing. All I told him was that if he did come back, I wanted him to come back with the mentality that he'd work to be even better. We're talking about a really special player who still can get a lot better. "The hype is legit. This kid is as good as anybody. He's even better than was advertised to me. He's an electric player." A year ago, Kent State was trying to get to its first bowl game in 40 years. Because he'd been sidelined the previous season, Archer was probably the nation's best-kept secret. "I knew he had rare speed," Hazell said. "I probably didn't know then how tough he was. He has a pretty rare skill set." Kent State won 10 straight games, won the MAC East and climbed as high as No. 17 nationally. Archer had scored 14 touchdowns by mid-October, before the Flashes won at then-ranked Rutgers and cracked the polls themselves. The final numbers from last season show Archer rushed for 1,429 yards, had 561 receiving yards, covered 591 yards on kick returns, and even threw a 24-yard touchdown pass. No coach who wants to keep his job will kick to Archer this season, but Haynes said he's been working with his staff on ways to both showcase Archer's talents and maximize them. He's gladly opened the doors at practice to NFL scouts, who know Archer will be draft eligible next April. They'll see a player who can play tailback, in the slot, as a receiver and one who probably will end up being the most underutilized return man in college football. "Hopefully teams kick to me this year," Archer said. "But I think I know better than that."
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Adopted cousin claims identity of Rams' Steeples during arrest

ST. LOUIS -- For months, Robert Steeples has been hard at work trying to earn his way onto the roster of his hometown St. Louis Rams. So imagine his surprise and confusion when the team's directer of security, Steve Miller, recently asked the rookie corner about a police blotter report that said Steeples had been arrested on drug-related charges. Fred Contrada of MassLive.com...

Rams RT Rodger Saffold could miss some time after shoulder injury

When St. Louis Rams right tackle Rodger Saffold left the field during Thursday night's preseason action vs. Cleveland, head coach Jeff Fisher didn't seem to worried, saying during half time that x-rays came back negative and Saffold is "fine."

Rookies beware: Rams veterans have found the hair clippers

ST. LOUIS -- For a rookie NFL player trying to make a team, the worst word is "cut." The second worst might be "haircut." Veterans trimming the hair of newcomers is nothing new, and the St. Louis Rams -- led by defensive end Chris Long -- got in on the ritual Friday. Check out the damage Long and his teammates documented below ... My first haircut ever. I...

Rams' Saffold to miss at least one game with shoulder injury

ST. LOUIS -- Key offensive tackle Rodger Saffold suffered a shoulder injury that will cost him at least one more preseason game. Isaiah Pead fumbled his first carry, top draft pick Tavon Austin missed the only pass thrown his way and new tight end Jared Cook didn't touch the ball. All in all, the Rams did little in their 29-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night to...

Daryl Richardson to lead Rams

With less than a month to go to the start of the season, most teams would still like to keep their cards close to their chest in terms of personnel decisions.  Not the St. Louis Rams, with Head Coach Jeff Fisher making the bold statement in regards to his starting running back. ""I think Daryl comes back as our starter," Fisher said Tuesday, via the Rams' official...

St. Louis Rams: 5 Things to Watch For This Week

Clearly the NFC West should be the most competitive and exciting division within the National Football League and the St. Louis Rams should give the 49ers and Seahawks all they can handle.With Jeff Fisher and Les Snead now in their second season with the St. Louis Rams, exceptations are high in the Show-Me State for this team to make a move in the NFC West. Each week we will preview...

2013 preview: St. Louis Rams

The 2013 NFL regular season is right around the corner. With that being said, it's time to launch our team previews. FOXSports.com contributor Taylor Jones will answer important questions for every franchise. ST LOUIS RAMS 2012 Record: 7-8-1. Missed the playoffs Which player is under the most pressure? Sam Bradford is under pressure internally and externally. Externally...

Fantasy outlook: Rams' crowded RB committee

There have been mixed reports this offseason in regards to the St. Louis Rams’ backfield. Sophemore running backs Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson will be competing with rookie Zac Stacy from Vanderbilt. Every seasoned fantasy owner knows that a ‘backfield-by-committee’ approach helps absolutely nobody. There still isn’t any clarity coming out of Rams camp as to who will...

Fantasy Team Preview: St. Louis

Overall outlook : Steven Jackson's departure takes away this team's best fantasy player, but overall, they might get a bit better across the board. Bye week : 11 Quarterback : Sam Bradford Ranked 18th among quarterbacks with 264.3 fantasy points in 2012 ... Was 15th in passing yards (3,702), 11th in attempts (551) and 18th in TD passes (21) ... YPA improved to a career...

St. Louis Rams at Cleverland Browns: Line, over/under and kickoff info

Getty Images The St. Louis Rams will invade FirstEnergy stadium on Thursday night August 8 to play preseason football against the Cleveland Browns. Those who want to bang on preseason football feel free to do so but do remember it does mean that meaningful games are only weeks ago. This game offers a lot of questions as to what will we see from these two franchises in 2013. The Rams...

Six things to watch in Rams-Browns game tonight

ST. LOUIS -- With expectations soaring after a bountiful offseason, the Jeff Fisher era kicks off its second season -- OK, preseason -- Thursday night at Cleveland. You can watch the pregame show on FOX Sports Midwest at 6 p.m., followed by the 7 p.m. kickoff on FOX Channel 2. Here are six things to watch (and one thing not to): The first play Who cares if offensive coordinator...

Which St. Louis Rams wide receiver will have the most receiving yards in 2013?

The St. Louis Rams bulked up the talent at the wide receiver position this past off-season by drafting two former West Virginia wide receivers in last spring’s NFL Draft. The Rams moved up to No. 8 overall in the first round to select the explosive Tavon Austin and took his teammate Stedman Bailey in the third round. While the two rookies are talented, will either lead the Rams...
Rams News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.