Thursday, June 01, 2023

How Jaguars’ 1st Rounder Anton Harrison Is Transitioning to Right Tackle


The 21-year-old is impressing coaches and teammates early on in his transition to the right side.


14 HOURS AGO (May 31, 2023)


When Anton Harrison took his first collegiate start at right tackle, he did it with zero practice reps at the spot. 

His first NFL start on the right side will be a complete 180, with the Jaguars preparing Harrison months in advance for his switch to the right side. 

"It's going good, just taking it day by day, like you said, just being in one spot. So I'm at right tackle every day just getting better at it, perfecting my craft. Just taking it day by day," Harrison told Jaguar Report after practice on Tuesday. "It is going good."

Harrison started 23 games at left tackle for Oklahoma over the last two seasons, standing out as one of the nation's top pass protectors at an early age. His first reps with the Jaguars will be at a position he has just one start under his belt, starting at right tackle opposite of veteran left tackles Walker Little and Cam Robinson.

But it is a transition Harrison and the Jaguars have been confident about from Day One. Harrison is a player the Jaguars fell in love with during the draft process thanks to his athleticism, makeup, and long-term potential as a versatile and efficient pass-blocker. 

And through Harrison's first month as a full-time right tackle, he hasn't disappointed. 

"Anton's a smart guy. He's really, I listened to Coach Rausher in his meetings and he'll call on Anton, he's got the answers, he spits it out and now it's just a matter of just speeding it up on the field," Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said on Tuesday. It's the NFL and things happen a little bit faster. So he's done a nice job."

"It is big I say just to be able to come on here and play ball. Having the mental part and playbook part down just staying my books, staying ready when my number's called, being out there and be able to perform," Harrison said. 

"So that's big for me to keep doing that so I'm just gonna play ball and do what I do."

The youngest member of the Jaguars' starting offensive line, Harrison has no shortage of valuable resources inside the offensive line room. And so far, the No. 27 overall pick has been the kind of willing learner the Jaguars need him to be if he is to be a rookie starter in Week 1.

"Coach is always saying ask anything. No question is a bad question. So just always going to them if any questions I have just trying to get everything down," Harrison said. 

Among the veterans Harrison will be able to pick up tools of the trade from are Robinson, Little, and Josh Wells. Among them, the three have started 111 games at offensive tackle. Those are years of experience Harrison can draw from throughout the offseason, something the rookie seems more than willing to do.

"They have been great. They are always just harping on me, teaching me things, helping me like get the playbook down really," Harrison said. 

"Just teaching me the little things to help me be my best on the field. So those guys I lean on, try to get everything from them, because I see them on Sundays and doing what they do. So I'm just trying to get where they are."

Then there is the Brandon Scherff factor. Scherff was one of the most important pieces to Luke Fortner's success as a rookie, offering a reliable and steady presence on and off the field at right guard.

A year later, the Jaguars hope Scherff's presence will do the same for Harrison and his switch to right tackle.

"It's huge. I mean it's huge. It's critical. It's a lot of communication that goes on up front as you know. And Brandon really kind of can help calm him down just a little bit and kind of point him in the right direction," Pederson said.

"Brandon's done a nice job working next to him and that'll be a really good combination to continue to work.”

"It has been big. Growing up watching him, an All-Pro. Great person off the field, on the field, a great person to lean on and learn from. Always talking, always getting knowledge for you," Harrison said. "So that is big for me, just coming in playing next to a guy like that is definitely just a huge bonus."

When Week 1 comes around, the Jaguars will need Harrison to be ready to start at right tackle. And if his preparation in May and the veteran presence around him mean anything, then their rookie tackle is in good hands. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Lukas Van Ness credits Kirk Ferentz, Hawkeyes’ ‘developmental factory’ for NFL readiness


Posted: May 22, 2023 / 04:51 PM CDT

Updated: May 22, 2023 / 04:52 PM CDT

The Iowa City faithful have known Lukas Van Ness as a freak of nature for quite some time. He threw around opposing quarterbacks like ragdollssteamrolled the best offensive lineman in the sport — all while leading the team in sacks and pressures in 2022.

The Green Bay Packers were sold on “Hercules,” and selected him with the 13th overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft. Lukas’ new defensive staff is getting their first hands-on look at the 6-foot-5, 275-pound behemoth. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry is seeing what Hawkeyes already know.

“Have you seen him in person? He’s a big, big man, and he’s young,” Barry said. “Putting my evaluator hat on, when you see a guy that walks in a room — he’s got length and explosion. And then you look at the fact that he’s 21 years old.”

“It’s scary when you get a young player like that to close your eyes and think about what those guys will be three, four, five years down the road when they are 25-26 years old.”

Lukas, as always, looks the part — even in trading his black and gold for green and gold. One of the things that’s stood out to the young Van Ness is the reverberating importance of honoring history. He gushed about how his Hawkeye roots allowed him to blossom into one of the most coveted football prospects in America.

“[Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz] is a big history guy, loves to bring up past teams, past players — and the way they went about their business and the standard that they held,” Van Ness said. “That’s the standard they set and the standard they want Coach Ferentz to uphold.”

“Having a coach like Coach Ferentz who has been in the NFL and coached at the collegiate level for a long time — he’s had a ton of experience and he’s really good. We’re a developmental factory at Iowa — he takes guys that are underrecruited, he develops them into true men and true football players and prepares them for the NFL.”

“There are so many guys who have rolled through the university of Iowa that have gone on to play at the next level. There are lists of people I’ve watched and learned from. Coming in there was a couple of guys on the way out — A.J. Epenesa, Chauncey Golston and Jack Heflin was up here for a little bit. So, I came in at an awesome time.”

“I surrounded myself with vets and guys who succeeded at a high level and learned from them.”

For more Hawkeyes coverage, follow @HawkeyeHQ on Twitter and Facebook. 

Monday, May 22, 2023

World Medalists Coon and Kikiniou among 10 to Advance to Final X with World Team Trials Challenge Tournament Greco-Roman Titles


By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | May 20, 2023, 8:53 p.m. (ET)

Adam Coon takes down Donny Longendyke in the 130 kg finals at the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. Photo by Robbert Wijtman.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Senior World medalists Adam Coon (130 kg) and Aliaksandr Kikiniou (77 kg) were among 10 Greco-Roman champions from today’s World Team Trials Challenge Tournament at Discovery Canyon High School to punch their tickets for Final X.

Today’s winners will compete in Final X against the 2023 U.S. Open champion at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., June 10.

Coon, a 2018 World silver medalist, scored a 9-0 technical fall over Donny Longendyke in the finals. Coon advances to Final X to face Cohlton Schultz of the Sunkist Kids who defeated him in the U.S. Open finals in April. Coon had not wrestled until recently after pursuing professional football after the 2021 season.

Kikinou, a 43-year old who won a 2009 World bronze medalist for Belarus, recently received U.S. citizenship and was second at the U.S. Open. He won his finals today with a technical fall over Payton Jacobson, 10-0. He earned a Final X rematch against Kamal Bey who defeated him in the U.S. Open finals.

Kikinou was among three Olympians who were able to advance today to Final X, joined by two-time Olympian Ildar Hafizov at 60 kg and 2020 Olympian Alejandro Sancho at 67 kg.

Hafizov, a 2008 Olympian for Uzbekistan and a 2020 Olympian for Team USA, stopped Randon Miranda, 8-4 in the finals. He earned a rematch with Army teammate and 2023 U.S. Open champion Dalton Roberts in Final X.

Sancho did not have to compete in the finals, when Army teammate and 2016 Olympian Jesse Thielke did not wrestle in the finals match. Sancho will face U.S. Open champion Robert Perez III in Final X.

Two-time World Team member Patrick Smith won the title at 72 kg, with a 4-0 decision over Noah Wachsmuth. Smith returns to Final X to face rising young star Justus Scott, who defeated Smith at the U.S. Open.

Six World Team Trials Challenge Tournament champions qualified for Final X for the first time: Kikiniou plus Dalton Duffield (55 kg), Xavier Johnson (63 kg), Ryan Epps (82 kg), Zachary Braunagel (87 kg) and Christian DuLaney (97 kg).

Duffield, who was No. 3 on the Senior National Team last year, scored a 10-0 technical fall over 2022 U23 World Team member Camden Russell. He gets a Final X rematch with Brady Koontz, who beat him in the U.S. Open finals.

Johnson, a past National Team member, defeated two-time World Team member Sammy Jones in the finals, 7-4. Johnson, who started his career with the U.S. Marines and now wrestles for Army WCAP, draws 2023 U.S. Open champion Hayden Tuma in Final X.

Epps scored a tight 2-1 win over two-time Olympian Ben Provisor in the finals. He will battle 2022 World Team member Spencer Woods in Final X.

Braunagel, a student-athlete at the University of Illinois, used a 6-0 victory over Richard Carlson. Braunagel advances to Final X to face two-time World Team member Alan Vera in Newark.

Dulaney, who was a National Team member last year at 86 kg, has moved up in weight to make his first Final X. He defeated North Carolina student-athlete Cade Lautt in an 8-0 technical fall. His Final X opponent is two-time World Team member Joe Rau.

The World Team Trials Challenge Tournament will continue on Sunday with four women’s freestyle weight classes (55 kg, 59 kg, 68 kg, 76 kg) and three men’s freestyle weight classes (61 kg, 92 kg, 125 kg). Session times are 10:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. live on FloWrestling.

At Colorado Springs, Colo., May 20, 2023

Greco-Roman results

55 kg
1st - Dalton Duffield, Army WCAP, tech fall Camden Russell, MWC Wrestling Academy/New York AC, 10-0
Duffield advances to Final X to face Brady Koontz (TMWC/Dubuque RTC)

3rd - Billy Sullivan, Army WCAP tech fall Jacob Cochran, Army WCAP, 12-1

60 kg
1st - Ildar Hafizov, Army WCAP dec. Randon Miranda, Rise RTC, 8-4
Hafizov advances to Final X to face Dalton Roberts (Army WCAP)

3rd - Dylan Koontz, Dubuque RTC/Titan Mercury WC tech. fall Jonathan Gurule, NMU-National Training Center, 8-0

63 kg finals
1st - Xavier Johnson, Army WCAP dec. Sammy Jones, Sunkist Kids WC, 7-4
Johnson advances to Final X to face Hayden Tuma (Suples WC)

3rd - Dylan Gregerson, Brunson UVRTC tech fall Corbin Nirschl, MWC Wrestling Academy/New York AC, 9-0

67 kg finals
1st - Alejandro Sancho, Army WCAP forfeit Jesse Thielke, Army WCAP
Sancho advances to Final X to face Robert Perez III (Sunkist Kids WC)
3rd - David Stepanian, New York AC tech fall Joel Adams, The Best Wrestler, 9-0

72 kg finals
1st - Patrick Smith, Minnesota Storm dec. Noah Wachsmuth, New York AC, 4-0
Smith advances to Final X to face Justus Scott (Army WCAP)

3rd - Michael Hooker, Army WCAP dec. Jack Ervien, Viking WC, 4-2

77 kg finals
1st - Aliaksandr Kikiniou, California tech fall Payton Jacobson, Sunkist Kids WC, 10-0
Kikiniou advances to Final X to face Kamal Bey (Army WCAP)

3rd - RaVaughn Perkins, New York AC pin Jesse Porter, New York AC, 1:11

82 kg finals
1st - Ryan Epps, Army WCAP, dec. Ben Provisor, New York AC, 2-1
Epps advances to Final X to face Spencer Woods

3rd - Barrett Stanghill, Minnesota Storm dec. Tommy Brackett, New York AC, 6-4

87 kg finals
1st - Zachary Braunagel, Illinois RTC/Illini WC dec. Richard Carlson, Minnesota Storm, 6-0
Braunagel advances to Final X to face Alan Vera (New York AC)

3rd - John Stefanowicz, Navy WC dec. Timothy Young, Army WCAP, 4-0

97 kg finals
1st - Christian DuLaney, Minnesota Storm, tech fall Cade Lautt, Tar Heel WC, 8-0
Dulaney advances to Final X to face Josef Rau (Titan Mercury WC)

3rd - Nicholas Boykin, Sunkist Kids WC pin Brandon Marshall, Big Game WC, 0:43
advances to Final X to face Josef Rau

130 kg finals
1st - Adam Coon, Cliff Keen WC/New York AC tech fall Donny Longendyke, Minnesota Storm, 9-0
Coon advances to Final X to face Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist Kids)

3rd - Brandon Metz, North Dakota dec. Darryl Aiello, Dubuque RTC, 4-0


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