For New Ravens safety Geno Stone, the time he spent on the baseball diamond growing up helped him develop as a football player — and now he gets to showcase his skills on the gridiron close to where he once played baseball as a young boy.
Stone, the Ravens’ seventh-round pick out of Iowa, is from New Castle, Pa., but participated in the Cal Ripken World Series in Aberdeen, Md., when he was 11 or 12 years old. Stone hit a home run at Cal Sr.’s Yard and still has the ball to this day. The skills he learned as a baseball player helped him as a young football player.
“I played basketball growing up my whole life but my favorite sport growing up was baseball,” Stone said on Glenn Clark Radio April 28. “So that’s where I kind of learned my ball-tracking ability because I played center field. So, me reading the ball off of batters translated to football.”
His ability to find the ball led to four interceptions as a sophomore at Iowa in 2018, which ranked second in the Big Ten that year, and he finished with six interceptions for his career. Stone also finished with 126 tackles (four for loss), 13 pass breakups, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
However, he was dealing with an injury at the NFL Scouting Combine, which may have hurt his draft stock. Stone slid to No. 219 overall in the draft. But the 5-foot-10, 207-pound safety knew he would have a chance at playing in the NFL after a text from the Ravens on the third day of the draft April 25.
“That moment was something crazy and something I’ve been waiting for my whole life. I kind of had an idea that they were going to pick me because they texted me during the sixth round and they had one more pick left,” Stone said. “After the sixth round, I was just waiting the whole time, anxious like, ‘Are they going to pick me?’ When it got to their pick, they called my phone and it was a dream come true.”
Stone admitted it was frustrating waiting until the seventh round to be drafted. But he’s looking forward to playing for a Super Bowl contender, and he’ll have a chance to play in a defense coordinated by Don “Wink” Martindale. The Ravens ranked fourth in the NFL in total defense (300.6 yards per game) in 2019, and Stone will have a chance be part of schemes that tend to confuse opposing offenses.
Though Stone says he’s ready to play in those different looks and do whatever Martindale asks him to do — whether it’s in the box or deep — he must first prove himself on special teams like he did during his freshman year of college.
“My freshman year I was strictly special teams. I made my name there,” Stone said. “That’s where I made all my plays, and then it started to earn me roles on more special teams, then I’d become a backup on the defense. Since then, it was history. So, I know what it takes to progress throughout the league and to move my name up the charts and everything like that. I’m just ready to go to work.”
Stone will have a chance to pick safety Earl Thomas’ brain and play against reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson during practice. He says he is looking forward to competing against one of the top quarterbacks in the league.
“Just for me to be able to join an organization and compete with them and be teammates is a great thing,” Stone said. “I watched Lamar all last year and I think he’s a top-two quarterback in the NFL. Just to be able to play with him can be fun.”
“There’s a lot of quarterbacks like [Jackson] in the league and it’s going to be good work in practice for me to prepare me for the moment I step in a game,” he added. “So just having him on my team can be great preparation for me. I’m happy to have a great quarterback that could prepare me for my moment.”
For more from Stone, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Iowa Athletics