There is a definite market in the NFL for 6-foot-2 wide receivers who can run a sub-4.4 40-yard dash and score a ton of touchdowns -- even if said wide receiver is from a Division II school.
Jeff Janis, who starred at Saginaw Valley State, a 10,000-student school located on the outskirts of Saginaw, Mich., will be on view Saturday in the Reese's Senior Bowl. Janis, who measured 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds at Monday's Senior Bowl weigh-in, had 83 receptions for 1,572 yards (18.9 yards per catch) and 14 touchdowns this season. He was clocked at a sub-4.4 40-yard dash during Saginaw Valley's pro day last spring.
Janis finished his college career with 246 receptions for 4,305 yards (17.5 yards per catch) and 46 TDs. He scored a TD on almost 20 percent of his career receptions (18.7 percent, to be precise).
"Every year, there's guys that come from Division II and Division III schools that get an opportunity to get in front of NFL personnel people and NFL coaches and make teams, and he's done a nice job," Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith, the coach of the North team, told the Detroit Free Press. "I know he's caught the attention of our coaching staff. ... I know the South's defensive backs, they're a good group, so he's going to get an opportunity to go against some of the best in the country [Saturday]."
Janis is from Tawas City, Mich., a town of about 1,800 on the shores of Lake Huron. He didn't have any Division I offers out of high school but has a great shot at being a third-day pick in the NFL draft.
"It's just crazy to even be here, so I'm just soaking everything up," Janis said to the Free Press about his time at the Senior Bowl.
"He obviously has all the traits that you look for in an NFL receiver," Heath told the Free Press. "He's big, fast, strong. All the stuff that you can't really teach, he's got.
"I know he's going to kill it at the combine, and I expect him to kill it next year, too," Heath said.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.