Donte Moncrief is a rookie whose facial hair screams 12-year veteran.
The Colts’ attempt at planning for the eventual retirement of ageless receiver Reggie Wayne hit training camp earlier this week with approximately 2 inches of serious tangle beneath his chin.
“It’s something I’ve had going since college, and I just never cut it,” explained Moncrief, a 6-foot-2, 221-pound target taken in the third round by Indianapolis in the NFL Draft. “I’ll probably go with it through camp.”
Moncrief, who turns 21 on Aug. 6, played three seasons at the University of Mississippi before deciding to bypass his senior season.
He still managed to exit the Ole Miss campus second in 100-yard games (nine) and third in career receptions (156), receiving yards (2,371) and touchdown catches (20).
Moncrief will have every opportunity to progress at a careful, deliberate pace.
Indianapolis already possesses a surplus of established pass-catchers: Wayne, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, along with wideouts T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks, and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.
Be that as it may, Moncrief’s hope is to have quarterback Andrew Luck direct spirals his way at points of the game other than when the outcome has long been decided.
“I approach this as an opportunity to come out here and do some hard work, battle with some great guys and show the coaches what I can actually do,” said Moncrief, who snared 59 receptions for 938 yards and six touchdowns as a Rebels junior.
Often double-teamed during the 2013 college football season, Moncrief’s pre-draft scouting reports described him as a strength/speed/size matchup nightmare for smaller defensive backs.
He’s also incredibly durable, having started 36 of his 37 games in college.
It’s a long way from Oxford, Mississippi, to Indianapolis. This is true geographically, climatically and competitively.
Moncrief is nothing if not confident. The native of Raleigh, Mississippi — a three-hour drive south of Ole Miss — believes he has the skills and physical frame suited for the rigors of professional football.
Not later. Now.
“I like to go across the middle. I’ve been able to throw my body out there for my teammates and make big blocks, also,” Moncrief said. “You’ve got to convince yourself that you can come out here and play with these guys. It’s another level of guys. Older guys who have been in the league.”