Former High School Coach Weighs In On Chiefs Draft Pick Jonathan Baldwin

We continue to hear from more folks regarding the Kansas City Chiefs first round pick WR Jonathan Baldwin. On Wednesday morning, 610 Sports' Danny Parkins talked Baldwin's high school coach, Mike Zmijanac, in what was an informative segment. 

Zmijanac is the head coach at Aliquippa high school -- he actually coached Baldwin's father as well -- and reflected on Jonathan Baldwin the player, and Jonathan Baldwin the person, as well as Aliquippa. 

On the player, Zmijanac says he would compare Baldwin's game to WR Plaxico Burress. "Jonathan is an athlete who is a pretty darn good basketball player," he said. "He was a track star. He's a big, tall, wide-out who can run and go get the ball." He was so good at basketball that his parents thought his future may be on the court but Zmijanac says he knew since Baldwin's freshman year that he had a bright future in football.

On the person, Zmijanac says he's a "great kid" with a quiet demeanor. "I talked to him an hour ago, as a matter of fact," he said. "He called me and we talked for a while. He wanted to make sure that he got out there what a great teammate, and what a great person he is. He's a great kid, a hard-worker, and will do anything for the team to win. There are no choir boys growing up in a community like we have but at the same time he's one of those guys that will work as hard as he can and will do exactly what he's told. You'll love his demeanor. He's quiet and plays really hard."

That's one thing that keeps coming up -- a quiet demeanor. That's not what you expect out of someone who others, like ESPN's Trent Dilfer, say diva qualities. That's what Zmijanac says he doesn't understand and he tried to explain to the Chiefs when they came calling on two separate occasions. 

"I told them (the Chiefs) that the biggest rap that I had a problem with was his work ethic," he said. "Jonathan was the first guy on the field, last one to leave, in the weight room, running the stadium stairs after practice. That was totally false."

On his hometown, Zmijanac describes Aliquippa as a "tough community".  It used to be a mill town and then all the mills left with the steel collapse a couple decades ago which resulted in a population and economic decline. There are only 200-something kids in the high school, he says, and kids growing up there have a choice to make on their future. 

"Here's what happens is you make a choice," he says. "You either decide to be an athlete and a good person or you decide to be a hoodlum. You don't get to do both. Those kids I already mentioned (Ty Law, Darrelle Revis, etc) chose the other path. It's not an easy one to take but it's an acceptable one.

"Everyone in the community understands that you can take that path of being a bad guy, or you just want to be an athlete, then they're all for you. He's not a street kid. He's a good student, dresses well, acts right and does all those sorts of things. But he's certainly not a choir boy either."

Check out the full segment at 610Sports.com. It has some pretty good insight into the Chiefs first round pick. 

 

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