Garrett Scantling dreamt of making it to the U.S. Olympic Team for the longest time but fell a little short.
As reported in the Athens Banner-Herald, the former Georgia decathlete impressed the Atlanta Falcons enough that they are giving him a chance to play for them, given that he last played while in high school.
The NFL team announced Monday it has signed Scantling as a free agent wide receiver.
“My goal to start off is just go in there and show them that decathletes are hard workers,” Scantling said Monday. “That’s what I’ve been working my whole life to be on that Olympic team. It didn’t work out. I just want to go in there and show them that this is what I want to do, that I’m going to work hard. 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 preseason and see if I can’t make that team.”
In late March, the 6-foot-3, 222-pound Scantling participated in a pro day workout at Jacksonville (Fla.) University in his hometown in front of a handful of scouts there including from the Jaguars, Chargers, Giants and Chiefs.
After that he got an invite to the Falcons’ workout that included offensive linemen Greg Pyke and Tyler Catalina, defensive back Maurice Smith, wide receivers Isaiah McKenzie and Reggie Davis from Georgia, he said.
Scantling finished fourth in the decathlon, one spot out of qualifying.
It was pretty heartbreaking for me and I just kind of realized that this wasn’t something I wanted to keep doing for another four years,” said Scantling, who graduated in May of 2016. “I wanted to pursue what was my first love, which was football.”
He won three SEC heptathlon titles between 2013-16 and was a four-time All-American in the decathlon and heptathlon. His career best 100-meter time is 10.85.
During his senior year of high school at Episcopal, Scantling caught 66 passes for more than 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was The Florida Times-Union male track athlete of the year and earned first team All-City honors but said he didn’t have the speed to attract a Division I football scholarship offer.
Still a resident of Athens, Scantling trained a couple of times a week with former NFL coach Larry Kirksey, a wide receivers coach in the NFL including with the Texans and 49ers.
He said that showed at the Falcons’ workout when he also caught about everything thrown his way.
“My hands have always been my best attribute and now I have speed,” he told the paper.
Now Scantling is trying to make the Falcons’ 53-man roster.
Since I’m new, they can teach me whatever they want to teach me and mold me however they want to mold me,” he said. “I’d like to think I have pretty good athletic ability, that I can take on new projects and thrive in that environment.”
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