Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Former Ohio State player Nate Ebner leaves Patriots for Giants

Bill Rabinowitz

A longtime New England Patriot left for another team this week.
Well, another longtime Patriot.
Tom Brady’s departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rightly captured all the attention, especially in a sports world that has stopped except for NFL free agency.
But Nate Ebner also will have a new home after a Patriots career that was impressive in its own right. The former Ohio State special-teams player has agreed to a one-year deal with the New York Giants after eight years with New England.
“The Giants was the right fit for me,” Ebner said.
New York’s new coach, Joe Judge, coached special teams for the Patriots starting in 2012, when New England drafted Ebner.
“Obviously, I have a strong relationship with him,” Ebner said. “He’s someone I spent years with every single day arguing with and laughing with. He has a huge background in special teams, and we kind of came into it together.”
That Ebner, 31, made it to the NFL at all, let alone has lasted this long, is a story worthy of a book. In fact, he has written one that he expects to be published next year.
Ebner was an elite rugby player growing up in Hilliard. He didn’t play football at Hilliard Davidson, but he and his father, Jeff, talked about him trying out at Ohio State. After his father was killed during an attempted robbery at his family business in 2008, Ebner decided to give it a go.
He made his mark on special teams and became a Buckeyes captain. The Patriots then made him a surprise sixth-round draft pick, and he became a special-teams fixture during New England’s dynasty.
In 2016, he went back to his first love when he made the U.S. Olympic rugby team and competed in Rio de Janeiro.
Ebner won three Super Bowls with the Patriots. When asked about his time with New England, Ebner spoke uninterrupted for more than three minutes. He praised his teammates, Patriots fans and the culture that demanded and rewarded ceaseless work and dedication.
“If you want to be a (pro) football player, it’s a full-time job,” he said. “And in New England, they really know how to work. If you’re not built for it, you don’t last very long.”
Ebner lasted eight years, a tenure matched or exceeded only by Brady, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, cornerback Devin McCourty and receivers Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater.
“I’ve taken so much from New England,” he said. “It’s been fantastic, and I couldn’t have been more blessed.”
Now it’s on to a new chapter. Ebner, who got married last year, has been in San Diego, staying in shape by training with U.S. rugby players. No, he doesn’t intend to try out again for the Olympic team, even if the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t affect this year’s games in Japan.
NFL free agency continues despite the pandemic, but on-site work with the Giants is on hold.
“We’re kind of in unchartered territory, right?” he said. “I’m going to do what I have to do to get in touch with the people I need to. You just have to modify and adapt to the situation and make the most of what you can with what you have.”
That’s what Ebner has done his entire career. Now his goal is to make it to at least 10 years in the NFL.
“I’m just blessed to be able to play a ninth year,” Ebner said. “It’s not something I envisioned, and the fact I’m able to go out and do my thing, it’s a blessing. But I feel good and plan on playing as long as I can until the wheels fall off, and I don’t feel it’s anytime soon.”

Counting Down Colts Draft Picks of the Past: TE Dallas Clark

Photo by Aaron Josefczuk /Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images
Colts GM Chris Ballard has regularly stated that his philosophy is that you build teams through the draft. That makes this time of year critical to the Colts’ long term success. So in the lead up to this year’s draft, I wanted to do something to honor some of the meaningful draft picks that the Colts have made in their time in Indianapolis. These players have helped to tell the story of the Colts franchise we love. Every day leading up to the draft, we’ll drop a story about a different player from Indianapolis Colts draft history.
Today we’re talking about the Colts’ most prolific all around tight end, Dallas Clark. Drafted 24th overall in the 2003 NFL Draft, Clark was the unsung hero of a star-studded offense. His nine seasons in Indianapolis saw him rack up 46 receiving touchdowns, the most of any Colts tight end.
What’s more, Clark really turned it on in the postseason. He ranks 2nd behind only Reggie Wayne in both postseason receiving yards and touchdowns for the Colts with 847 yards and 4 touchdowns. In the most important games of the year, Clark was a major factor.
Despite making just one Pro Bowl and one First-Team All-Pro, Clark was a legitimate threat and a well-rounded player who added a dynamic to the offense that was needed to both take pressure off of Manning and help eliminate the need for Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison to carry the passing game.
While we think of the tight end position now as being a clear part of the passing game, Clark was among an age of evolution at the position and helped to redefine how it could be used. In his best season, he had 1,106 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, but even when his time in Indy ended, he remained a productive player for two more seasons.
His short stints in Tampa Bay and Baltimore yielded similar production, and he retired ahead of the 2014 season, signing a one-day contract with the Colts so that he could retire wearing the horseshoe.
Clark helped the Colts to a Super Bowl win, and became a fan favorite along the way.
What’s your favorite Dallas Clark memory?

LSU Defensive Coordinator Bo Pelini Happy to Be Back in the Place He Calls a "Second Home"

Glen West
Mar 14, 2020

For five years, Youngstown State head coach Bo Pelini received countless job offers and inquiries but for five years he turned those opportunities away. As a native of Youngstown, Ohio, the attraction of being home made it very hard for another job to pull him away. 

"To be honest with you, I didn't take them to my wife, didn't even bring them up to her," Pelini said of the other job offers.

Then Ed Orgeron came calling.

"It was about 30 seconds and I looked at my wife and I was a little bit nervous," Pelini said with a slight chuckle. "I went up to her and I said 'hon, LSU wants to talk to me tomorrow about me going back there. I thought she was going to lay into me but she looked at me and said you're going to talk right?"

The only place that could beat home for Pelini was the opportunity to go back to the city and university he calls his second home.

"This place is special to me, I feel like this is my second home and to me it's about the culture," Pelini said. "Obviously coach O's culture and the culture here at LSU. The things he represents, that this program represents, the winning but just the culture of this state. I always felt at home here."

On Jan. 27, Pelini was hired as the Tigers next defensive coordinator, returning to that second home where he captured a national championship back in 2007. In his three-year first stint with the Tigers from 2005-07, Pelini constructed the No. 3 defense in 2005, No. 4 in 2006 and No. 17 defense in the championship season, allowing 288.8 yards per game.

"Bo was the only guy I ever talked to," Orgeron said Thursday night at the annual coaches clinic. "This is what Pete Carroll said about Bo Pelini, he said he's the most intelligent, best defensive mind of any coach I've ever coached with. That says a lot."

With Pelini on board, the Tigers have switched to the 4-3 defense Orgeron has envisioned for a while now. 

"Our players love it and it really fits the skill of our football team," Orgeron said. "They're playing fast, putting in blitzes and he's doing a tremendous job of energy and is already capturing our guys."

Pelini gave a short presentation to some 100 high school coaches in attendance as he put that defensive intelligence to work. He went down the list of his most important principles but the most important principle to have according to Pelini is having a sound philosophy. 

"Actually sitting down with your staff and asking the simple question, what do we want to be," Pelini said. "Whatever you come up with as a staff, it better match up."

The high school coaches in attendance intently listened as one of the great defensive minds in the game gave them some quick bullet points and film study. These are the coaches that will be one day handing off some of their special talents to LSU down the road.

Pelini has been in coaching for 29 years and coached at nine different universities and NFL teams. Yet through all of those years, all of those different experiences, Pelini considers the time he's spent in Baton Rouge as his fondest.

"I talk to a lot of people and they ask me  where the most special place where you worked and I say LSU," Pelini said. "The reason why that was is because the kids from Louisiana, they set the culture for the program. It doesn't matter how many kids you bring in from out of state because they all follow along with what the Louisiana kids are doing. To me, that's why this place is what it is and why I wanted to come back."

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