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Soon after the Ravens drafted Miami wide receiver Tommy Streeter in the sixth round, he got a call from another former Hurricanes player.
It was Ray Lewis.
The Ravens middle linebacker called Streeter not only to congratulate him on getting drafted, but also to see if he wanted to join him for some offseason training.
Streeter jumped at the opportunity.
“I basically told him that I was ready to make that next step and ready to train, and he took it upon himself to extend an invitation,” Streeter said.
Streeter Discusses Training With Lewis
The two have been working together ever since, and Lewis has helped prepare Streeter for what he can expect in the NFL. The biggest lesson Streeter has taken from their interactions has been the importance of training and pushing his body as much as possible.
Streeter referenced a painting that Lewis has in his Florida home, which reads “Pain is a gift from God.”
That message has stuck with Streeter.
“Exert your body to the maximum limit, to the point where when you’re out here and everything is easy, because in that time when you’re alone, you take your body to the maximum,” Streeter said. “Once you’re out here, you’re able to withstand anything that anyone else throws at you.”
The motivation to fight through pain extends beyond Streeter’s training routine.
He’s now on a mission to prove teams wrong for overlooking him in the draft. Streeter expected to get taken in the second or third round, but instead he slipped to the end of the sixth (198th-overall pick), giving him a chip on his shoulder that he has brought with him to the NFL.
“I kind of feel like a lot of people didn’t believe in me, even though I believed in myself,” Streeter said. “I thank God that the coaches believed in me and gave me this opportunity. And ever since I got that phone call on draft day, I had the mindset that I was willing to work and I’m going to be the best Baltimore Raven that I can be now that I’m in this position.”
Part of the Ravens’ attraction to Streeter was his size and speed. He is six-foot-five and can run the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds, giving him the physical tools to become a dynamic wide receiver in the NFL.
That frame and speed stuck out right away when he took the field for rookie minicamp over the weekend.
“First impression: he is really tall. Second impression: he is really fast,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “I’d say third impression: he is going to be a good player. He is a young guy, but a talented guy, and we’re excited to work with him.”
The knock on Streeter, and part of the reason some believe that he fell as far as he did in the draft, is that his skills are still raw. He had only one year of big-time production in his college career, and his game appears to need some more polish.
He caught 46 passes for 811 yards and eight touchdowns during his redshirt junior year last season, but had just six combined catches in his first two seasons.
His breakout junior campaign coincided with the arrival of a new coaching staff, which Streeter said put everyone back on a level playing field and allowed him to seize an opportunity.
“Everything was basically open from there and I just tried to go out there and work hard in the offseason, challenge myself and perform to the level that I felt I could, and everything just worked out,” he said.
He’ll try to do the same thing with the Ravens, as he joins a roster that has several young receivers competing for playing time. Streeter will challenge LaQuan Williams, Tandon Doss and David Reed, most likely at the No. 4 receiver spot behind Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and newly-acquired veteran Jacoby Jones.
Streeter brings something different than any of the other receivers on the roster because of his size and speed, and one potential place for him to make an impact is in the red zone.
“That’s what I thrive at,” he said. “I feel I create a mismatch down there on jump-ball situations. Not just in the red zone but anywhere on the field being of my stature and my size. It’s rare that you find a guy who can run the way I can. That’s one thing that I’m looking to bring, [those] mismatch and jump-ball situations in the red zone.”
Streeter’s plan now is to continue working out and learning before the entire team reports back to Baltimore.
During that time he’s hoping to continue refining his game, so that when the season rolls around he can prove the Ravens made the right call in drafting him.
“I’m ready for whoever lines up in front of me,” he said. “I was looking to go second, third round, but God had a different purpose for me and things unfolded the way they did and I can’t do anything but be thankful for the position I’m in now.”