Thursday, April 18, 2019

Burkhead returns home a champion: Plano alum’s fundraiser tops $100K mark

2 hrs ago (April 18, 2019)

Just two months removed from a win in Super Bowl LIII with the New England Patriots, Plano Senior alum Rex Burkhead, middle, returned to his hometown to host the third annual Team Jack Trifecta.

Not even a bout with Mother Nature could slow Plano Senior alum Rex Burkhead and the Team Jack Foundation from its most successful Team Jack Trifecta yet.
From the start of the three-sport fundraiser’s morning 5K fun run outside Plano’s Clark Stadium to the last bid submitted for the event’s national online auction Sunday evening, and all the festivities in between, Team Jack raised approximately $105,000 toward pediatric brain cancer research – a $40,000 increase from last year and a number plenty gratifying for the New England Patriots running back fresh off the fundraiser’s third installment.
“Everyone had a great time … and it’s so great seeing so many people continue to come back and bring more people with them,” Burkhead said. “It’s awesome to be a part of this.”
Getting there required some improvisation after inclement weather drenched the start of the youth football camp, held mid-morning at Clark on April 6. Moments after Burkhead led a crowd of kids through the stadium tunnel and onto the field for warm-up stretches, heavy rainfall forced a momentary delay as campers were shuttled into the locker rooms and equipment was loaded into trucks to be transported across the street to PSA2.
During the downtime, kids were kept entertained by the camp’s cast of college and professional football veterans – including several with local ties, like Plano alum and current Los Angeles Ram Joseph Noteboom, Allen alum and current Jacksonville Jaguar Cedric Obguehi and Plano West alums Jackson Jeffcoat and Ameen Behbahani – before the camp resumed on the PSA2 basketball courts.
“Ameen had everyone going and playing different games. Trust me, they weren’t bored at all,” Burkhead said. “… We couldn’t have done it without the volunteers and coaches. Everybody pitched in and transported all the equipment over [to PSA2], and we had to do some things a little different, but it was still a lot of fun.”

Nearly 200 kids participated in the youth football camp during the Team Jack Trifecta.

While nearly 200 campers rotated through a variety of instructional stations, drilling all manner of football fundamentals, spectators scoured the facility to bid on items up for auction, as well as sample vendor stations and even take pictures with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The NFL’s illustrious championship relic was on display at the Trifecta just over two months after Burkhead and the Patriots defeated the Rams, 13-3, in Super Bowl LIII – crowning the Plano alum an NFL champion for the first time in his six-year pro career.
“It’s something you dream about as a little kid and to get there and accomplish that with such a great team and a bunch of great guys, it really is a thrill,” Burkhead said.
Although Burkhead wound up contributing plenty to New England’s sixth title, getting there required overcoming an early-season neck injury that sidelined the former Wildcat for just over two months – the longest stretch of missed time during the running back’s career.
“It was just something that had to heal and it was definitely tough being out and not being around the guys,” Burkhead said. “I had never been out for that long, so you just have to stay focused and do what you can. The staff and trainers did a great job getting me back and in shape.”
Returning to a crowded backfield alongside standout rookie Sony Michel and versatile rusher James White, Burkhead was worked back into the fold as part of a running game that took on a greater workload throughout the postseason. The Patriots averaged 161.7 rushing yards per game during the playoffs – an average that was the NFL’s highest since 2012 and New England’s highest since 1976.
Burkhead was part of that three-headed monster, including scoring the final two touchdowns of the Patriots’ 37-31 road win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 20.
“That was great. It was such a big win and to do so in an environment like that, we knew it was going to be a tough game,” Burkhead said. “Just to know that you’re going to the Super Bowl after a win like that, especially in overtime, is the best feeling.”
Burkhead picked up where he left off in his second consecutive Super Bowl appearance, leading all players in yards per carry (6.1) and helping cement the Patriots’ victory late in the fourth quarter with one of the game’s signature plays – a 26-yard run that helped set up a Stephen Gostkowski field goal for a 10-point lead with 3:05 to play.

The Vince Lombardi Trophy made an appearance at the Team Jack Trifecta.
Photo courtesy of Team Jack Foundation
“I was just following our fullback, James Develin. Good things happen more times than not when you do,” Burkhead said. “I was just doing that, saw an opening and hit it as fast as I could. I could see their cornerback, Marcus Peters, coming in from my left side and I knew he was going to try and strip the ball, so I just got two hands on it and protected it as much as I could.”
Burkhead wasn’t the only Planoite on the field that early-February night in Atlanta, as Noteboom suited up for the Rams in the final game of his rookie season. The two were in tandem supporting a charitable cause two months later at the Team Jack Trifecta, with Burkhead adding to the lore of his alma mater as Plano Senior’s first-ever Super Bowl champion.
“There’s so much tradition here at Plano and it’s such a great program, so to be able to bring this back to my hometown with this event is really cool,” Burkhead said.

Peter King on Coach Kirk Ferentz

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Marshal Yanda looks to put the finishing touches on a Canton-worthy career


X in the first half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Baltimore Ravens guard Marshal Yanda ended any doubts about his future when he agreed to a contract extension that will keep him with the Ravens through the end of the 2020 season. There were rumors that the standout offensive lineman was considering retirement, so this deal will likely see him finish his career having played for the Ravens throughout his time in the NFL. Coming off the lowest-graded regular season of his career in which he produced an overall grade of 77.5, he was still the fourth-highest graded player at his position.
It was the first season where we have seen him produce a PFF grade lower than 80.0, highlighting over a decade of excellence since he arrived in Baltimore as a third-round draft pick out of Iowa back in 2007. It is a career that has seen him play over 400 snaps in a single season at right tackle, left guard and, the position he has occupied for much of his career, right guard. Regardless of where Yanda has played, he has looked comfortable as an offensive lineman in the NFL from Day One.

Day One was at right tackle, operating as a bookend with Hall of Fame left tackle Jonathan Ogden for the 10 games in which he was healthy enough to start. Even in the twilight of his career, Ogden was dominant, allowing just eight total pressures on 314 pass-blocking snaps. Giving an early glimpse into how special a player he could be, Yanda allowed only 20 total pressures on 517 pass-blocking snaps from the right side that same year. He was the seventh-highest graded offensive tackle in the NFL as a rookie, with his 85.9 overall grade coming out tops among all rookie offensive linemen, just ahead of future Hall of Famer, Joe Thomas. Yanda would move inside to right guard in 2008, but in 2010, he once again found himself at right tackle and produced an overall grade of 80.5 to rank 12th at the position. What’s interesting is that for a player who has built a Canton-worthy career at guard, Yanda proved himself to be one of the best tackles in the NFL in the two seasons where he has been asked to play there.
The Ravens saw that as good as he was at tackle, he was dominant inside at guard, and this was never more apparent than during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The highest-graded player in the NFL at the position both years and one of the very best players in the entire league, Yanda mauled anyone who got in his way in the run game. The 2015 season was particularly special, with his 93.8 overall grade ranking as the third-highest graded season for a guard since we began grading back in 2006, trailing only New England’s Logan Mankins in 2008 (94.2) and Philadelphia’s Evan Mathis in 2013 (94.9).
Most importantly, he’s still a good offensive lineman in today’s NFL and hits the 2019 season with his first healthy offseason in several years. Stellar in pass protection, Yanda hasn’t allowed a sack since Week 7 of the 2015 season. He’s played 1,767 pass blocking snaps since Week 8 of that season and not once has his quarterback been sacked due to Yanda being beaten. In fact, in that same stretch, he has allowed just four quarterback hits, and just 29 total pressures, working out at a pressure once every 60.9 pass-blocking snaps and a hit once every 441.8. His span of starts since he last allowed a sack sits at 41 games, and in those 41 games, he’s ended with a perfectly clean slate in pass protection 21 times.

The Ravens’ offseason moves so far have seen them get weaker at wide receiver, and stronger in the running game thanks to the addition of former New Orleans Saints star Mark Ingram. With only the draft remaining this offseason, the Ravens very much appear to be leaning into the fact that they will be a run-first team, very much going against the norm in the NFL right now. We know that passing has more value than running, but the Ravens are at least able to boost their rushing attack by having a big-play threat like Lamar Jackson at quarterback. If you take the Ravens’ rushing stats from when Jackson took over as the starting quarterback and extrapolate them over a full 16 game season, then this is a team that has the potential to rush for over 3,000 yards in 2019. If they do indeed hope to achieve that, having a reliable force on the right side of the line is a must and, as we reach the latter stages of Yanda’s career, we should appreciate his consistent dominance on the offensive line while we can. His career is worthy of a spot in Canton, Ohio, and keeping him around for the next two seasons is key to what the Ravens look to do on offense.

Super Bowl Champ Rex Burkhead Returns to Nebraska

By Ross Jernstrom | 

LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Former Husker Rex Burkhead was back in Lincoln for the annual Red-White Spring Game.

6 Sports Director Ross Jernstrom spoke with the New England Patriots running back about winning the Super Bowl.

Burkhead said he was thrilled to be back in Lincoln.
"You know this is my first game back in Nebraska since I graduated so it's pretty cool, just excited about Scott Frost, just the state of the program this year and see what the guys can do."
I have got to ask you about the AFC Championship game, you score the touchdown to tie it and then to win it. What was that game like?
"Yeah it was neat actually being here close to Nebraska I know a lot of Nebraska fans were there just to go out there in a hostile environment in that weather and to know that that game would take you to the Super Bowl was special and it was a great team win great effort and to play in that game was cool."
Super Bowl Champion, take me back to February. What was that like?
"It was great unbelievable game season something I will never forget for sure just having the family there on the field after the game was special so something you dream about as a little kid winning the Super Bowl and to actually make that dream come true was cool."
Your Team Jack Foundation how is that going and give us an update on Jack?
"Yeah it's doing great you know the Foundation has raised almost 6-million dollars for pediatric brain cancer, just held an event back in my hometown of Plano, Texas last weekend and it was our biggest year ever great turnout. You know Jack is doing pretty well right now got a good MRI a couple of weeks ago hopefully that continues he is getting big you know he is almost as tall as me now its special great family still cool to be a part of."

Monday, April 15, 2019

What Marshal Yanda's shoes say about Iowa's football program

Mark Emmert, Hawk Central Published 5:33 p.m. CT April 12, 2019 | Updated 5:36 p.m. CT April 12, 2019

Iowa strength coach Chris Doyle welcomes back former Hawkeyes in the NFL on a daily basis in the offseason. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — An 8-year-old pair of red and grey Nikes is as emblematic of the Iowa football program as any of the trophies you’ll find at the Hansen Performance Center.
The well-worn shoes belong to Marshal Yanda, a 34-year-old star guard for the Baltimore Ravens. The former Hawkeye has made it to seven Pro Bowls. The shoes were a gift from his first, in 2011. They sit in his locker here year-round. He wears them every time he works out alongside the current crop of Iowa players, which is all the time in the offseason.
Yanda signed a contract extension Thursday to play through the 2020 season. He is a millionaire who could certainly afford some new kicks.
So why does he wear the same old shoes?
Longtime strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle has asked Yanda the same question. He relayed the answer to reporters Friday.
“He said it’s because it’s a reminder of that first Pro Bowl, what it took,” Doyle said of Yanda, who told him: “’It reminds me of what I did to achieve that level of success and what I need to continue to do on a daily basis to play at the highest level.’”
Doyle said Yanda is the kind of role model the Hawkeyes need. He doesn’t come into the training center with his own workout regimen in mind. He does exactly the same things that the players 12-15 years younger than him are doing.

Baltimore Ravens guard Marshal Yanda has made seven Pro Bowls, but still spends his offseasons grinding through workouts with the Iowa Hawkeyes. His shoes are in the building year-round, Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle explained Friday. (Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

And he’s not alone. Doyle said as many as 15 former Hawkeyes currently playing in the NFL were in the building at one time this winter.
Iowa built a locker room just for its alumni, something Doyle believes is unique. Those include tight end George Kittle, cornerbacks Josh Jackson and Desmond King, linebacker Ben Niemann and, of course, Yanda.
“They believe that the training that we’re doing will help them retain their jobs,” Doyle said.
“It’s absolutely awesome to have those guys come back, be around our current players and to have an opportunity to work with some of the best guys that have ever played here. I think that’s one of the special things about Iowa football is the stability of it, the family of it. And we cater to them.”
The catering doesn’t include new shoes apparently. But for Yanda, that’s the point.

Ted Ginn Sr. honored with the ''Ohio's Finest'' award

Ohio State insider

Stephen Means

Columbus —

Ginn honored: Glenville High School football coach Ted Ginn Sr. was honored Thursday with the ''Ohio's Finest'' award at Ohio State's football coaching clinic.

''It means everything to me,'' Ginn said. ''I've had a ton of kids come here, and they've given them hope, been an example for my kids and treated them really well. More importantly, I know what it means and I teach kids what it means to be an Ohio State person.''

Under Ginn the Tarblooders have found success at the high school level and for almost a decade, the East Side school funneled numerous talented players to Ohio State, many while Jim Tressel was the head coach. From 2002 to '14, Ginn sent 22 players to Columbus including his son Ted Ginn Jr., who is coming off his 12th season in the NFL. In total, 19 former Tarblooders — five of which are still active — have played at least one NFL snap.

Many of those players were stars under Tressel, who had a 106-22 record, seven Big Ten championships and one National Championship in three title game appearances. The NCAA later voided the 12-1 season of 2010.

In addition to Ginn's son, notable former Tarblooders who played for Ohio State include Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, quarterback Cardale Jones, defensive backs Marshon Lattimore, Donte Whitner and Christian Bryant, and offensive linemen Bryant Browning and Marcus Hall.

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