The NFL draft begins April 27, but the Falcons aren’t waiting to add talent from the college ranks, as former University of Georgia decathlon ace Garrett Scantling — who didn’t play college football — signed with the team last week.
At 6-foot-3 and about 222 pounds, Scantling is an intriguing prospect. He won three SEC heptathlon titles from 2013-16, was a four-time All-American in the heptathlon and decathlon, and last summer finished fourth in the U.S. Olympic trials, just missing the team that traveled to the Games.
He’s most likely to try out at wide receiver. Scantling worked out for NFL scouts late last month in his hometown of Jacksonville, and the Falcons invited him to team headquarters recently for more work in front of coaches.
“How did we get to that? Obviously, what a competitor, No. 1,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “Competitiveness and toughness are two of the top things we talk about. Well, to be the type of athlete that he is, we know those are there.
“Now, how will that transfer over into our game? He’ll be behind, for sure, but I have a sense of what he can be. We’re going to help develop and see where he can take it to.”
Scantling last played football as a senior at Episcopal High, catching 66 passes for 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns. He opted for track and field at Georgia, and is eager to get back in the sport. His top time in the 100-yard dash was 10.85 seconds.
“I just want to on in there and show (Falcons officials) that this is what I want to do, that I’m going to work hard,” he told the Savannah Morning News. “That’s the first step. The second step is learning every bit and piece of football, and getting completely familiar with it. Then, I’ll go into the preseason and see if I can’t make the team.”
Quinn is excited to give the young athlete an opportunity.
“It’s way too early call anything about where he can be, but at 6-2, or over 6-2 and 225 pounds with that kind of speed, as a coach (you think) there’s something there, and we’re going to try like crazy to pull it out of him,” the coach said.
“His attitude is right. He looked natural catching, and he does have a football background. He competed so well in track and field that that was the route he took so I’m excited for him.”