Coach Talk: Dino Babers on WR Ernest Smith

No one in San Diego is happy about Vincent Jackson's holdout, except maybe for the handful of undrafted rookie receivers looking to earn a place on the back end of the roster. One of those wide receivers is sky-scraping playmaker Ernest Smith. For more on Smith, we check in with Baylor wide receivers coach Dino Babers.

Ernest Smith (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) spent four years at Baylor, bagging 73 catches for 837 yards and four scores. His four-year stint with the Bears coincided with that of WR David Gettis, a sixth-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in this year's draft.

In San Diego, Smith will compete with Gary Banks and rookies Jeremy Williams Seyi Ajirotutu, Richard Goodman and Bryan Walters for the No. 5 receiver spot -- assuming Vincent Jackson's holdout lasts into the season. If Jackson re-ups, Smith and the rest of the rookies will be left to jockey for a place on the practice squad.

For more on Smith's future, we check in with Baylor receivers coach Dino Babers.

LaShana Marshburn: Can you give us some background info on Ernest?

Dino Babers: Ernest is a young man that grew up in Louisiana. He was part of Hurricane Katrina and had to get relocated during high school, so his high school situation was kind of traumatic. When he got to Baylor, I believe I was his third receivers coach. He had played for a lot of coaches by he time he got to me, so to say he was easy to coach, I'm not sure that's quite what I want to say.

I think he is a young man that is very sure about his skills. He's dealt with a lot of people; he can read through people very quickly and figure out whether people have the knowledge or don't have the knowledge to help him. He believes in his God-given abilities. He's a very confident young man and I think he has a skill-set that will be helpful to the San Diego Chargers.

LM: How did your program at Baylor ready Ernest for the NFL?

DB: I think the biggest thing was he got touched by a lot of coaches. His receivers coach before me (Kasey Dunn) left Baylor and went to the Seattle Seahawks. Also, I've had a lot of players who have played in the NFL, so I think that he's been around guys who have taken people to the Big Leagues. I think his transition will not be all that difficult if he stays athletic and stays with the people that he can compete with.

  LM: Is there one moment from his time at Baylor that stands out to you?

DB: During his junior year he made a play on a deep ball. The DB from Texas Tech was making a play on the ball and Ernest did a good job to fight him off. The DB got his hands on the ball and tried to rip it away from Ernest, but he held him off and they both end up on the ground. It was a simultaneous catch and the ball stays with us.

LM: How would Ernest be best utilized in San Diego?

DB: He's a heck of a competitor with very good hands. You'll find that his route running is a lot better than what everyone else thinks. Also, he's a superb blocker, so you get a guy that maybe doesn't look like he's a physical player because of how he's built, but with his heart and his courage and the things he's been through in his life, he's a very intense competitor and I think that's what San Diego is going to like best about him.  

LM: Where does he need the most improvement?

DB: I think the biggest thing is learning the playbook. Anytime you go from a college playbook to a Norv Turner style of offense, it's a challenge. Ernest will get in there and he'll learn it. The faster he learns the playbook, the better chance he'll have of sticking with the Chargers.

When you're in the NFL, you're dealing with the best athletes and competitors at any level of football. You have to match that intensity. You have to bring that workmanship and that blue-collar work ethic, going to practice every day and working hard and enjoying what you're doing.

Can Smith carve out a role in San Diego? Talk about it inside the message boards.

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