Monday, June 30, 2008
Sporting News college football yearbook superlatives, Part 1
June 23, 2008
We know you've waited long enough. Trust us, it's well worth it. So in the spirit of Sporting News college football yearbook officially going on sale today, we'll break out the Bests of this coming season.
We'll start with offense and coaching superlatives today, and continue with defense and special teams later in the week.
Best program builder: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
June 26, 2008
Entering his third season, Buffalo Bills safety Donte Whitner has come to be known as a team leader by Bills head coach Dick Jauron. Safeties are known for being leaders of the secondary and Whitner has not taken his role lightly.
In offseason workouts, Whitner took the Bills’ first-round draft choice in 2008, cornerback Leodis McKelvin (No. 11, Troy) under his wing to ease his NFL transition. Whitner even offered his home as a place for McKelvin to stay until he finds his own in Buffalo.
“When I came into the NFL two years ago, I didn’t know what to expect,” says Whitner, who was a first-round selection (No. 8) in 2006. “Leodis is a rookie in a similar situation that I was in. I know what he’s going through, so I want to help him get through the process as quick and as painless as possible.”
Whitner, who has a theater in the basement of his house, goes over the finer details of the Bills’ defensive scheme through one-one-one film sessions with McKelvin.
“Donte didn’t have to do this, but it shows what kind of guy he is,” says McKelvin. “It’s a great feeling to have guys on the team that care about you. He’s trying to help me learn my plays so I can get on the field faster.”
By Steven Nathaniel Patterson
June 29, 2008
Best Players at Key Positions Going into the 2008 NFL Season
DE: Aaron Kampman. Kampman has lead the league in sacks since the 2006 season. He's no doubt the best defensive end in the NFL. Expect him to put up double digit sack numbers this up coming season.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
By Mike Florio
June 23, 2008
Much was made a decade ago when Vikings receiver Cris Carter spent plenty of time with rookie Randy Moss in an effort to help the first-year player make a sudden impact on the NFL. It worked.
This year, Bills safety Donte Whitner has taken rookie corner Leodis McKelvin under his wing, and into his house, to help McKelvin reach his potential ASAP.
“It’s no mystery. We didn’t pick him No. 11 overall in the draft to sit on the bench,” Whitner said, according to the Buffalo News. “We picked him at No. 11 because he was the best corner available, he’s a unique talent and he can definitely help this football team. So it’s my job, the coaching staff’s job and everybody else’s job to help make sure his transition is smooth and make sure he gets on the field as soon as possible in order to help our team.
“When I came into the NFL two years ago, I didn’t know what to expect,” Whitner said. “He’s a rookie in a similar situation that I was in. I know what he’s going through, so I want to help him get through the process as quick and as painless as possible.”
Whitner also is teaching McKelvin how to conduct himself when no playing football.
“I’ll talk to him about how to handle yourself off the field,” Whitner said. “Things like how he dresses when he’s coming to the facility or when we’re at a team function and how to deal with people and surroundings that are not familiar to him. A lot of those things he already understands, but I just want to make sure he lives by the things that got him to this level.”
When Whitner was drafted with the eighth overall pick in 2006, many (us included) called it a reach. Every team should be so lucky as to reach for a guy who will become so quickly a leader, and who’ll influence young players to stay out of trouble.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Posted By: Chris Brown
June 20, 2008
WHITNER HOSTING UNITED WAY DAY OF ACTION: Over 100 5th-8th graders will be joining Donte Whitner at the Bills Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon as part of the United Way's Day of Action. Kids from six Buffalo Public Schools and two community centers will attend as Whitner will put them through the paces.
Kids attending the program will participate in a bunch of activities including Sandlot Football where Whitner will have them go through running plays, a punt/pass station, field goal kicking and target passing, a junior training camp and learning about making healthy food choices.
It's part of a nationwide United Way effort.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
June 18, 2008
Mitch Browning knows why he's at Syracuse: The offense is broken, and he needs to fix it. If things don't improve this fall, Orange coach Greg Robinson's job could be in peril.
"I don't feel any pressure," Browning says. "I have been pleasantly surprised by the talent here."
We should heed Browning's words. This is a guy who coordinated some terrific offenses at Minnesota, where he was known for having punishing ground attacks. Under Browning – who didn't coach last season, but visited numerous schools to enhance his knowledge – Minnesota had two 1,000-yard rushers in 2003 and '04. That's the only time a school has turned the trick.
It's up to Mitch Browning to help Syracuse take the right steps offensively.
But Browning faces a big challenge at Syracuse. The Orange offense ranked 115th in the nation in 2007 (291.9 yards per game). The ground game was even more abysmal, ranking 119th (62.8).
"We have to make sure we aren't asking people to do things they aren't capable of doing," Browning says. "It's important to get good at something to establish an identity because it's difficult to do everything well."
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Whitner Housing McKelvin
by Chris Brown
May 27, 2008
In the NFL leadership is shown in many different ways. There are those players that lead by example. Others stand up and make sure they are heard in the locker room. Some leaders are most effective on the field, while others do their best work away from the action.
Bills strong safety Donte Whitner, who already established himself as a leader in 2007, and is just entering his third NFL season, has taken his leadership to another level. Beginning this week, Whitner will be putting Bills top pick Leodis McKelvin up at his home with the intent of shortening the rookie's learning curve for the pro game.
"I'm having him stay with me until he finds a place of his own," said Whitner. "Each night I'm going to teach him a little bit more about the defensive scheme. It's hard as a rookie because you're going to make mistakes. So I'll try to slowly bring him up to speed on things and be a sounding board for him if he has any questions."
McKelvin was a bit floored by the offer extended to him by Whitner, but happily accepted the invite.
"He told me he was in the same position I was and he told me he wanted to get me more comfortable with the playbook and get me through the plays faster to get me on the field faster," McKelvin told Buffalobills.com. "He's trying to help me out."
Whitner can relate to McKelvin's situation. He too was a top pick of the Bills taken eighth overall in 2006. He knows what kind of expectations are out there that McKelvin has to live up to as a rookie and plans to help the cornerback fulfill them.
"I feel I can help him make the transition," said Whitner. "Everybody doesn't get that type of mentor around them to help them make that transition into being a pro. Just because you make it to the NFL doesn't mean you're a pro. You have to learn how to eat, practice and sleep. You have to learn how to be a pro. I feel like I can teach him that."
With a home theater just installed in the basement of his home, Whitner has the perfect environment to school McKelvin on film study and review practice tape.
"I have all of the film at my house. I have the same tools that the coaches use to show us the film and the things that we need to know I have at my house," said Whitner. "So he and I have time to go one-on-one and I get the practice film from practice and show him what he did wrong in practice and how he can improve. We'll have the playbooks and anything else that he needs."
"With him being on the field all the time the past two years and him knowing what he's got to do and helping me with my mistakes on the field, the fewer mistakes I'll make and the better I'll get as a player," said McKelvin.
Cornerback was a thin position for the Bills until they signed veteran Will James in free agency and then drafted McKelvin as well as cornerbacks Reggie Corner and Kennard Cox. Now expected to be one of the more competitive positions in training camp this summer, Whitner realized that it would be best if he provided McKelvin with what he needs to know at his position.
"Any time you come into a situation whether it's your teammates or anybody you have guys that want to compete so they might be a little reluctant to share information that can help you in fear that you might take their spot," said Whitner. "And that's natural with every team and every individual at every position. Me being a safety and him being a corner I naturally have to talk to him on the field anyway and get him lined up and tell him what's going on, so I feel the relationship will work better that way instead of another corner taking him in and helping him."
"He makes all the calls so I listen to him whenever he's making a call anyway," said McKelvin. "With me and him working together personally I'm going to know exactly what I've got to do. It's a great benefit for me."
Not playing the same position it's easier for Whitner to recognize the likelihood that the Bills at some point this fall will need to rely on McKelvin's talents. So Whitner believes if he can reduce the rookie's learning curve it will improve McKelvin's chances at making an impact in year one.
"If you're going to be realistic about it, we drafted him that high because we needed somebody at that position," Whitner said. "I'm not knocking anybody else, but we need somebody at that position. He has all the physical tools. He runs hard to the football and he's not out there dogging the workouts and he really wants to learn. When you talk he listens. You don't meet a lot of guys like that and that's why I think he could be a great addition to our team and to this league. He's going to help us this year so it's never too early to try to get him ready."
And knowing how rare it is to be presented with the offer he received from Whitner, McKelvin is looking to make good on his new teammate's expectations as well as everyone else's in Western New York.
"It feels real good that he's put himself out there to help me with the playbook," said McKelvin. "You don't see that every day. I just have to learn from him and learn what he tells me and take it from there."