SBJ/March 5-11, 2012/Labor and Agents

Combine times help speedy receiver climb NFL draft boards

Liz Mullen
Sportstars, an NFL representation firm that doesn’t generally represent a lot of high-profile draft picks, is watching one of the 20 players in its 2012 draft class, Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill, move up draft boards.

Hill, 20, a true junior, caught only 28 passes last fall at Georgia Tech in the Yellow Jackets’ run-based offense, but he amassed more than 800 yards on those receptions. He announced his availability for this year’s draft even though the NFL draft advisory board told him he likely would not be drafted in the first three rounds if he came out this year, said Jared Fox, one of Hill’s three agents at Sportstars. Agency founder Alan Herman and agent Lester Archambeau also represent Hill.

Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill ran the fastest 40-yard time of any wide receiver at the combine and is repped by Sportstars.
Photo by: AP IMAGES
Last week, however, Hill ran the fastest 40-yard time at the NFL combine of any wide receiver — timed as fast as a 4.27 and as slow as a 4.36.

Hill now will “absolutely” be moving up on draft boards, said Rob Rang, senior draft analyst for Before the combine, the site had Hill listed as the No. 61 overall prospect. He’d moved up to No. 30 in Rang’s mock draft as of Wednesday.

Sportstars’ 2012 draft prospects, in addition to Hill, include South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore, Connecticut defensive tackle Kendall Reyes, Coastal Carolina cornerback Josh Norman and Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins. In addition to Herman, Fox and Archambeau, the agents representing the players are Brian Mackler, Jason Chayut, Jim Ivler, Dave Butz, Bill Heck and Jon Perzley.

“We are really happy,” Herman said of his agency’s 2012 class. “I think most of the guys are going to get drafted.”
Veteran NFL agent Jim Steiner, who represented hall of famer Jerry Rice among a host of NFL greats, has retired from the agent business after 35 years, the last six of them with CAA Sports. He is not, however, retiring from the sports business and is open to new opportunities, including having a job with an NFL club.

“That is something I would consider,” Steiner said when asked if he would take a job on the other side of the table, something a number of prominent player agents have done across sports over the years.

Steiner and his partner Ben Dogra joined CAA Sports in the summer of 2006, a few months after their former rivals, NFL agents Tom Condon and Ken Kremer, joined CAA as the entertainment firm launched its sports division. Steiner and Dogra signed a six-year deal in 2006, and although Dogra, a younger agent who has become increasingly powerful in the industry in recent years, signed a long-term extension last year, Steiner did not.

“When we signed six years ago, I knew that would take me to age 61 and that would be my exit,” Steiner said. “There are not any 63- or 64- or 65-year-old agents. It is, as you know, a young man’s game.”

In addition to Rice, Steiner’s clients through the years included William “Refrigerator” Perry, Mike Alstott, Dan Hampton, Justin Smith, Matt Light and Sebastian Vollmer.

Steiner said he is happy to see Dogra, someone he hired as an intern in 1992, become what he called “a massive star.” He added that it is one of the few instances in which a younger agent who worked for an older agent became very successful, yet the two agents stayed together.

“I have a special affinity for Ben since we started together,” Steiner said. “He started as an intern for us and now he has become what I feel is the best in business. His talent combined with that of Tom Condon — together, they make an extraordinary combination.”

Said Dogra, “Jim is one of the pioneer sports agents in the business and he operated with the highest form of class and integrity. It was truly a pleasure and honor working with Jim.”

Liz Mullen can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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