Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Patriots Coach's Donation To Hiram College Honors Parents

By Dan Pompili

June 25, 2015

Northeast Ohio has plenty of big names to boast about -- astronauts, presidents, athletes and coaches, and many of them have a way of remembering their humble beginnings here.

Four-time Super Bowl winning coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots is especially partial to Hiram College.
He may never have existed if not for the place.

For that reason, he's made a sizable, but undisclosed, donation to the school.

"I think the contribution speaks for itself," said his agent, Neil Cornrich. "Coach Belichick has a tremendous affinity for this area, and that certainly includes Hiram College where his parents met."

Belichick's parents, Steve Belichick and Jeanette Munn, met at the small northern Portage County liberal arts college in the 1940s, when Steve Belichick was head coach of the football, basketball and track teams, and Munn taught French and Spanish.

The gift honors the areas of campus life where his parents made a lasting impact. The donation will help to establish the Coach Steve Belichick Olympic Training Center, naming the facility in the Les and Kathy Coleman Sports, Recreation and Fitness Center; the Jeannette Munn Belichick '42 Reading Room, naming the space on the first floor of the Hiram College Library; and the Jeannette Munn Belichick '42 Endowed Fund, which will provide support for the Hiram College Library in purchasing books and other resources related to foreign languages.

"In addition to providing support to library resources, the endowed fund will support the curricular needs of the Center for Global Interaction, one of Hiram's Centers of Distinction, and study away programs," said Christina Russ, assistant director of college communications. "Jeannette's college language books have also been donated to the library."

Steve, who grew up in Struthers, in the Youngstown area, went on to serve as assistant coach of Vanderbilt University from 1949 to 1952. The couple married in 1950, and Jeannette became fluent in Croatian to communicate better with her in-laws. Bill, their first son, was born in 1952.

He followed in his father's footsteps, choosing a career in coaching, and he has since set the all-time record for postseason victories -- 22, and tied the record for most Super Bowl wins -- four, as an NFL head coach.

After Steve's short stint as assistant coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the couple made Annapolis, Md., their permanent home when Steve took a coaching position for the United States Naval Academy.

Steve Belichick died in 2005, while Jeanette lives on. Munn Road in Chagrin Falls still bears her family name, just as the place where she started her own family now will too.

"Coach Belichick's contribution also reflects his varied intellectual interests, as well as his respect, admiration and appreciation for the education and values that were instilled in him by his parents," Cornrich said.

Monday, June 29, 2015

New England Patriots Kick-Off in 74 Days: Profiling No. 74 Trey Flowers


JUNE 28, 2015

Opening day countdowns are great. So are player profiles. Here at Musket Fire, we decided to combine them and create a Week 1 countdown-oriented, jersey number-dictated player profile series. A few days ago, we looked at No. 76 Sebastian Vollmer, and before that it was No. 77 Nate Solder. Because today marks 74 days until the New England Patriots open 2015, we are profiling No. 74, rookie defensive end Trey Flowers.

According to Oliver Thomas of 247Sports, Flowers has claimed Dominique Easley’s old jersey, No. 74.

After mulling over entry into the 2014 NFL Draft, Flowers stayed up put at Arkansas for his senior season, leading the Razorbacks in tackles for loss (15.5) and sacks (6) en route to All-SEC honors for the second year in a row. Over the course of his college career, Flowers missed only one game.

Drafted 101st overall this spring by the Patriots, Flowers has been received in New England with mixed reviews. Some think that his lack of athletic traits will hinder him in the pros, or that he doesn’t have enough length to fit as an edge defender in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme.

However, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema thinks different. Citing Flowers’ work ethic and attitude, Bielema told WEEI last month that Flowers reminds him of another former Razorback, the Texans’ J.J. Watt. Also keep in mind that Pro Football Prospectus ranked Flowers as a top-five defensive end in the 2015 class.

Over at, Flowers is listed as Rob Ninkovich’s backup. To maintain that spot, Flowers will have to fend off a bunch of other roster hopefuls, including fellow rookies Geneo Grissom and Xzavier Dickson.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bryant, Cunningham Visit Camp Rainbow

June 24, 2015
By Jacob Born

Instead of playing outside or going to a friend’s house, children suffering from cancer are constantly in and out of hospitals. But Camp Rainbow — a local non-profit that allows children with cancer and blood-related illnesses to attend a camp for free — gives kids the chance to be a kid, even if it’s just for a little bit.

“Camp Rainbow gives the kids a place where they feel accepted,” said Debbi Braunstein, executive director of the Camp Rainbow Foundation. “They can be themselves. They can put the adult life situations that have been thrown at them aside and come and just have fun and be a kid and make friends.”

Some parents immediately embrace the program, while others are hesitant to send their children away to Camp Rainbow’s annual overnight camp that lasts for a week, especially with the medical care some of these children need. But the camp has 24-hour full-time nurses and oncologists to help ease the parents’ worries, as well as give kids medicine if need be. It creates a safe environment for the children to fully enjoy camp.

Adding to the camp excitement was Rams safety Christian Bryant and running back Benny Cunningham , who recently stopped by the camp to participate in games and meet the campers and caregivers.

“These kids feel so special that the Rams are taking the time out and coming to see them,” Braunstein said. “It’s amazing. The kids will talk about this for a long time to come.”

Bryant and Cunningham bounced from group to group, saying hello to the children and participating in different activities. The first was “the Oreo game,” where Bryant and Cunningham raced to see who could move an Oreo from their forehead to their mouth, using only their face to move the cookie. After a few minutes of missed attempts, the two called it a draw before playing a round of “Ninja” in another group. After both games, Bryant and Cunningham autographed items and took photos.

“I’m glad the kids could come out here and just be kids and enjoy each other’s company,” Cunningham said. “It was a good experience to put smiles on faces.”

Another highlight of the day was the Jell-O toss. Campers bombarded the staff with Jell-O, shaving cream, chocolate syrup and various other items that left volunteers covered from head to toe. Staff members escaped with shaving cream in hair, Jell-O stained clothes and desperately needing a shower, but couldn’t help but smile.

“Just seeing all the kids having fun out here, knowing what they’ve been through, this is their time to just unleash and have fun with their peers,” Bryant said. “I enjoyed myself being out here.”

Camp Rainbow started in 1988 as an overnight camp with 25 kids participating. Twenty-seven years later, it has expanded to a full week with more than 400 campers, in addition to four other camp programs: Camp Rainbow Teen Camp, Day Camp for 4-6 year-olds, Camp Rainbow Camp-In Program — a two-day camp-like experience for children at St. Louis Children’s, SSM Cardinal Glennon and Mercy hospitals — and a family camp held in September.

“Knowing what it’s like for families to go through it, I try to put myself in it and be a part of it and just ease it as much as I can,” Cunningham said, who is no stranger to cancer.

Cunningham’s family has encountered cancer and like the families at Camp Rainbow, they understand dealing with cancer is an everyday battle, regardless of age. Camp Rainbow makes that battle a little easier.

Best of the Belichick Era: Number 32 -- Stephen Neal

June 26, 2015

By Tom Curran

I'm spending 50 days ranking the top 50 players of the Bill Belichick Era, from No. 50 down to No. 1. Enjoy. Today we reach . . . .


Years With Patriots: 2002-2010
Games: 86
Playoff Games: 12
Honors: Super Bowl winner (2003, 2004)

The time will never come when Bill Belichick tires of talking about the success story that was right guard Stephen Neal. Almost every time a player’s development is discussed -- especially when that player is learning something new -- Belichick invokes the name of the former college wrestler turned NFL mainstay. Neal, Belichick will say, is on the high end of learning. To illustrate how raw Neal was, Belichick toggles between describing Neal as “not even knowing how to put pads on” and “not even knowing how to get to the practice field.”

Signed by the Patriots in July 2001 even though he never played college football, Neal was released at the end of that camp and spent the early part of 2001 on the Eagles practice squad before the Patriots scooped him back up in December 2001. It wasn’t until the fifth game of 2002 that he made his first start. In that game, Neal separated his shoulder. But even in doing that, he earned Belichick’s praise. Neal was the only Patriot chasing down a screen pass that fell incomplete and was actually a lateral. Hence, the 2002 team got bashed over the head with the fact the only guy who knew what to do on the play was the guy who just started playing.

Neal came to football with tremendous raw strength and a wrestler’s understanding of the advantages leverage and quickness bring when combined with power. That shoulder injury was the start of a battle he’d have with that arm for the next nine seasons. Neal bridged the time between the early 2000s Pats and the reboot that followed the 2009 season. When Neal retired before the 2011 season, Belichick said in a statement, "They don't come any better than Steve Neal. In terms of improvement and development as a player, Steve may have accomplished more than any player I have ever been around. His toughness, intelligence and competitiveness were at rare levels and all contributed to him going from being a champion in an individual sport to being an integral part of championship teams. I congratulate Steve for an incredible career and thank him for everything he did for me personally, our team and organization."

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Panthers WR Ted Ginn Jr. still stands out because of his speed

By David Newton
June 1, 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Compared to fellow wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who stood a few feet away, Ted Ginn Jr. looked like one of the small structures surrounding the Bank of America Corporate Center, which towers over theCarolina Panthers practice fields.

That’s to be expected when you’re 5-foot-11 and your star receiver is 6-foot-5.

But on the field Ginn stands out. Not because of his size, but his elite speed.

At 30, Ginn still can turn on the jets when he has to as he did on a couple of deep patterns during Thursday’s workout. Wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl would put his money on Ginn over receivers Corey Brown and Stephen Hill and safety Colin Jones as the fastest player on the team.

Ginn, who ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.3-second range prior to the 2007 draft, won’t argue the point.

“I got to be the top dog,’’ he said.

Speed is why Ginn is back at Carolina after a failed season at Arizona. His ability to blow the top off of defenses as a receiver and threat to go the distance on punt and kick returns in 2013 played a big role in Carolina going 12-4 and winning the NFC South.

He’s the one receiver the Panthers didn’t want to lose during the ensuing offseason in which they lost their top four. Steve Smith was cut; Ginn, Brandon LaFell and Domenik Hixon signed with other teams in free agency.

The then-salary cap strapped Panthers couldn’t afford to match the three-year, $9.75 million deal Arizona gave Ginn. As they found out early in 2014, they couldn’t afford to lose him.

It wasn’t until undrafted free agent Corey Brown, who like Ginn went to Ohio State, emerged as a speedy receiver did the offense begin to consistently click last season. Ginn’s presence as a returner never was replaced.

So when the Cardinals released Ginn, in part to save $2.5 million under the cap and in part because his 14 receptions and career-low 19.0 kickoff return average didn’t warrant it, Carolina was quick to bring him back.

Ginn is happy to be back.

“Oh, man, it was great for somebody to come back to get you and for a player to want to come back,” Ginn said. “The players here are like brothers and the coaches are like fathers. They welcomed me with open arms. The whole community did.”

Surrounding Benjamin, Carolina’s first-round pick in 2014, with players such as Ginn and second-round draft pick Devin Funchess should make Carolina’s offense more fun to watch this season.

Ginn already is having more fun than he did at Arizona, where he became lost in the shuffle after rookie John Brown replaced him as the No. 3 receiver.

“I just played my role,’’ Ginn said. “Don’t mess your name up and don’t become a distraction even though you want a ball or two thrown your way.

“You just to go out and continue to do what they ask you to and you get good blessings like this.”

Returning to Carolina was a blessing for Ginn.

He’s here because, despite his size, he stands out.

When Arizona didn’t work out, Ted Ginn Jr. sped back to Carolina Panthers

On of the reasons wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., left, returned to the Carolina Panthers so quickly when his stay with the Arizona Cardinals didn’t work out was the chance to work again with Panthers wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl (right).


No. 19 takes off down the right side of the field and Cam Newton’s pass lands several yards behind him.

Was that a fly pattern?

“No,” says Ted Ginn Jr. “I turned it into a fly pattern.”

The line is good and the route was better. When was the last time a receiver outran a Newton pass? It would enhance this column to report that Ginn did Thursday at practice. Alas, Ginn refuses to enhance the column. He says he did not outrun the pass. He ran a route Newton did not anticipate.

But this much is true: Ginn, 30, runs as if it’s what he’s designed to do. At 5-11 and 185 pounds, he is as fluid as he is fast, head steady, breathing proper and every body part in sync. He ran a 4.2 40 – in high school.

Ginn had one of his best seasons in 2013, his only season with the Carolina Panthers. He returned kickoffs and punts, of course. When Ginn awaits a kickoff or a punt, nobody makes a run to their refrigerator because something great could happen. He also averaged 15.4 yards per reception and scored five touchdowns, three of them of 36 or more yards. When Newton stepped into a throw, you knew where the ball was going.

After the season, you knew where Ginn was going. Arizona flung a $2.25 million bonus and a 3-year, $9.75 million contract at him. Of the free agents the Panthers lost, it was Ginn they most wanted to keep. But they couldn’t keep up with the Cardinals.

Arizona drafted John Brown, and he supplanted Ginn at receiver. Ginn caught only 14 passes, none of them longer than 27 yards. The Cardinals cut him Feb. 23 and he moved with characteristic speed back to Carolina. He signed a two-year contract two weeks after he was jettisoned.

“Oh, man, it was great for somebody to come back to get you and for a player to want to come back,” Ginn says Thursday as he walks off the practice field. “The players here are like brothers and the coaches are like fathers. They welcomed me with open arms, the whole community did.”

Can you explain what happened last season?

“No, I can’t really,” says Ginn. “There’s always a business end of it. I just played my role. Don’t mess your name up and don’t become a distraction even though you want a ball or two thrown your way. You just to go out and continue to do what they ask you to and you get good blessings like this.”

This is Bank of America Stadium, which looms in front of him. This is again working with Carolina receivers coach Ricky Proehl.

Ginn had three nondescript seasons with San Francisco before coming to the Panthers. Last season the desert treated him no better. Why?

“For the ability that this guy has and the speed that he has it just shocked me that other teams aren’t using him,” says Proehl. “As a cornerback you have to respect his speed and his ability to run by you and that opens so many routes underneath. And then send him over the top. And it just shocks me that teams haven’t done that. Coach (offensive coordinator Mike) Shula did such a great job and that’s what we’re going to do again.”

Proehl doesn’t see Ginn as a fast guy who plays receiver. He sees Ginn as a receiver who is fast.

But is he still the fastest player on the roster?

“Well, I have to take that,” Ginn says. “I’m going to be the OG (Original Gangster, not Old Guy). I take nothing away from Philly (Corey Brown). He’s a great guy and he’s a Buckeye. But I got to be the top dog.”

This season will be Brown’s second with the Panthers. Like Ginn, Brown played for Ohio State. Unlike Ginn, Brown is 23. Ginn might be biased. Proehl isn’t.

“Hooo,” says Proehl. “There are some fast ones now: Philly, Colin (Jones) and Stephen Hill. But Ted and Philly are smooth. When they run, their head doesn’t move. They’re off the charts, man. They look like they’re on those airport moving sidewalks.”

Who’s the fastest Panther?

“I think I would put my money probably on Teddy,” Proehl says.

That’s a good bet.

Much too early roster projections: ILB's

By Greg Arias

June 16, 2015

When it comes to the Titans defense in 2015, stopping the run is perhaps the biggest area the team must improve upon as the start of training camp approaches. Last season the Titans were gashed early and often though sixteen games by a front seven that could not stop the run.

The defensive line has one new starter entering the season, and the inside linebackers will welcome the return of Zach Brown from injury, which should help bolster the interior defense, but will that be enough.

Today we continue our series looking at the much too early roster predictions for the team, and we preview the inside linebackers who must become a force against the run.

CURRENT PLAYERS ON THE ROSTER (7): Avery Williamson, Zach Brown, Wesley Woodyard, Zavier Gooden, Yawin Smallwood, Nate Askew, Justin Staples

Avery Williamson: Starter- Williamson was the Titans steal of the draft in 2014, and perhaps the entire NFL as the rookie linebacker proved to be a tackling machine and became a starter midway through the season. Now an unquestioned starter, and someone who is being counted on to produce and to be a leader, Williamson could reach Pro-Bowl status if he does not suffer a sophomore slump and continues to improve this season.

Zach Brown: Starter- Brown suffered a torn pectoral muscle last season in week one against Kansas City and was lost for the season. His return should add an element of speed to the defense as Brown is one of the fastest players on the entire roster. Brown entered last season in the doghouse but worked his way out to become a starter prior to the injury. He will be counted on especially in pass defense as his speed will allow the Titans to matchup against speedier players with Brown who was a track star in college.

Wesley Woodyard: Backup- Woodyard signed with the Titans prior to the 2014 season and was a key contributor to the defense. As a starter next to Brown, the tandem was thought to be set for the season, but Brown’s injury made way for Williamson. Woodyard struggled at times against the run as he is somewhat undersized (6’ 0” 233) and he should become more of a situational player entering his eight NFL season.

Zavier Gooden: Backup- Gooden is another track guy with speed to burn but he has failed to make a significant impact on anything other than special teams. Entering his third season, it’s time for Gooden to produce something or he could find himself looking for a new team. At this point however, Gooden looks to be in good shape to make the roster, but he needs to take a major step forward to help this unit improve.

Yawin Smallwood: Practice Squad/Out- Smallwood was a practice squad player a season ago, and could have options to return, but it is more likely that he might be out.

Nate Askew: Practice squad/Out- Askew is in the same situation as Smallwood. He could find a position on the practice squad, or be out. Askew has had moments so far that make me think he might be ahead if anyone in this group is to make the practice squad.

Justin Staples: Practice squad/Out- Another player in the same situation. Staples is on the bubble and could be on his way out.

The Titans are likely to keep eight linebackers in all, with four on the outside and four more inside, though there is a slight chance that there could be a ninth if a linebacker outperforms and forced the coaching staff to keep one more and keep one less at another position.

However this position group shakes out, it is going to be imperative that those who remain on the roster are able to produce.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dallas Clark Foundation to Tackle Community Needs

Retired NFL Super Bowl Champion To Host Charity Concert
June 11, 2015

LIVERMORE -- For the past eight years Livermore native and retired Indianapolis Colt Tight End Dallas Clark, and his nonprofit foundation, have hosted a large fundraising event to raise money for community projects and student scholarships.

This year's charity event is bigger than ever! The 2015 Live Concert will be held Friday, June 12, at the Spring Valley Golf Course, Livermore, at 7 p.m.

The money raised by The Dallas Clark Foundation during this live concert event is returned to the community through educational scholarships, innovative recycling programs that teach students how and why to recycle, funds local community improvement projects, and teaches area youth about football and physical fitness.

This year's concert line up brings to central Iowa a Midwest favorite: The Johnny Holm Band. Johnny Holm is the band leader and front man of the most widely known and traveled band in America and is one of most entertaining performers on the road today. The Johnny Holm Band says, "The show is dedicated to the fans and they do most of the entertaining." Surrounding himself with the finest musicians in the Midwest, the band rocks, picks, and thunders along for 3 to 4 hours, almost non-stop from the first song to the last laugh.

The opening act is a pop/acoustic band, Called SNAX. The SNAX band features Maddie Poppe, a seventeen-year-old singer/songwriter from Clarksville.

Under a large tent the concert will begin, rain or shine, at 7 p.m. Concert goers must be 21 to attend. Tickets are available in advance at Emerald's (1515 N McCoy St, Algona, IA 50511) or at the door at the Spring Valley Golf Course, Livermore.

Shuttle Bus: round trip bus rides available at Emeralds in Algona (two buses) and at the Knotty Pine in Humboldt (one bus) starting at 6:30 p.m. by Party-In-Motion! No pre-registration, just show up! Buses will be running in 30 minute shifts, if it's not there it will be back!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Best of the Belichick Era: Number 49 -- Anthony Pleasant

By Tom Curran

June 9, 2015

I'm spending 50 days ranking the top 50 players of the Bill Belichick Era, from No. 50 down to No. 1. Enjoy. Today we reach . . . .


Years with Patriots: 2001-2003

Games: 37

Playoff Games: 3

Honors: Two-time Super Bowl winner

If Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli were going to push their program forward after the demolition/renovation season of 2000, they needed to get players who understood what the hell they were trying to do.

Enter Anthony Pleasant.

The 6-foot-5, 280-pound defensive end/tackle flourished under Belichick during his time in Cleveland, with 23 sacks in three seasons from 1993-95 and an absurd six forced fumbles in Belichick’s last year in Cleveland. Pleasant was also with the Jets when Pioli and Belichick were there under Bill Parcells.

By 2001, Pleasant was 33 and nearing the end. But his job wasn’t limited to the physical side of football. It included . . .

-- Explaining to players like Willie McGinest, Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson and Brandon Mitchell that, if they did their jobs and didn’t worry about the guy next to him doing his, the defense would work.

-- Being a complete, no-BS guy who was all football, all the time and barely said a word was his other off-field role.

That persona trickled down to players on both sides of the ball. He was their Mufasa.

He also played pretty damn well in 2001, starting every game, coming up with six sacks, four passes defensed and -- improbably -- two picks during the Super Bowl season of 2001.
Pleasant’s role was reduced in 2002 and by 2003, he was inactive for all but a handful of games and was a mentor in pads.

The success of the Patriots program is undeniably linked to the way in which they do things within the program. Pleasant’s part in passing that along in the critical season of 2001 can’t be overlooked.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Bengals making Rex Burkhead a receiver-running back hybrid

By Michael David Smith

June 3, 2015

In his first two NFL seasons, Bengals running backRex Burkhead rarely got the ball, with just 16 total touches. This year, the Bengals plan to change that.

Although Burkhead remains third on the running back depth chart behind Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, the Bengals like Burkhead’s ability enough that they’re going to find ways to get the ball in his hands. That means playing him about half the time at running back and half the time at wide receiver. Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson says it’s all about getting the best players on the field.

“He’s very talented,” Jackson said of Burkhead, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “You have a talented player on your team you see if you can find a way to get him involved. He can do a little bit of everything. He can run the ball, too. He can catch, protect.He’s one of the better players on our team so we will see what we can do with him.”

Burkhead lined up at wide receiver in the Bengals’ playoff loss to the Colts and had his best game of the season, catching three passes for 34 yards and also picking up 23 yards on his only run of the game. Now Burkhead is learning to play receiver regularly.

“When you’re coming out of the backfield you’re usually going against a linebacker and you’re usually going against straight-up man. Or it’s a simple zone you can read off of,” Burkhead said. “Now you’ve got cover-2, quarters, cloud coverages, and other things you have to learn about. And you’re running against nickel, dimes with corners and safeties. So it’s new, especially when I’m running some routes I’ve never run before.”

If Burkhead can learn to run those routes, he can play a big role in the Bengals’ offense — something he hasn’t done in his first two seasons.

Weisman, Dixon Earn Iowa's B1G Outstanding Sportsmanship Awards

Mark Weisman and Melissa Dixon named 2014-15 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honorees

June 3, 2015

IOWA CITY, IOWA -- Former University of Iowa student-athletes Mark Weisman and Melissa Dixon have been selected as Iowa's 2015 Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners. The duo was chosen from Iowa's 2014-15 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award winners, which include a representative from each of the UI's 24 varsity sports.

Weisman, a native of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, led the Hawkeye football team in rushing the last three seasons. He ranks third in career rushing touchdowns (32), fourth in career attempts (599), sixth in career rushing yards (2,602) and 10th in career scoring (198 points, one receiving TD) in Iowa school history. Weisman is the eighth Hawkeye to surpass 2,000 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns, the sixth Iowa running back to lead team in rushing for three straight seasons, and just the third Hawkeye to rush for over 800 yard in three straight seasons. A three-time academic All-Big Ten honoree, he was named to the Capital One Academic All-America second team last fall. He has signed as an NFL free agent with Cincinnati.

Dixon, a senior from Johnsburg, Illinois, earned second team All-Big Ten honors this season. She led the nation in 3-pointers per game (3.65) in 2014-15, becoming the first Big Ten player ever to lead the country in 3-pointers per contest, and just the seventh to do so from a major conference school. Dixon ranked sixth nationally, and second in the Big Ten, in 3-point shooting percentage (45.1%; 124-275). She is Iowa's record-holder for 3-pointers in a career (334), season (124), and game (10), and set the Big Ten single-season record for 3-pointers (127) this year. Dixon set or tied the arena record for most 3-pointers in a game in at least five venues this season (Drake, Rutgers, Illinois, Northwestern, and Iowa). The 2013 Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year ranks 12th in career scoring in program history (1,480 points). Dixon ranks 26th in NCAA history in career 3-pointers (334).

The Big Ten first awarded the Outstanding Sportsmanship honor in 2003. The student-athletes chosen were individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior, were in good academic standing, and demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.

Following is a list of Iowa's past Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship Award Winners:
Year Men's Award Winner/Women's Award Winner
2003 Stuart Waters, Men's Tennis/ Kristin Johnson, Softball
2004 Nate Kaeding, Football/ Laura Chipman, Softball
2005 Joe Johnston, Wrestling/ Jennifer Skolaski, Swimming & Diving
2006 Adam Haluska, Men's Basketball/ Liz Grajewski, Women's Gymnastics
2007 Adam Haluska, Men's Basketball/ Kara Zappone, Field Hockey
2008 Bart van Monsjou, Men's Tennis/ Brittany Keyes, Rowing
2009 Christian Bierich, Men's Tennis/ Wendy Ausdemore, Women's Basketball
2010 A.J. Edds, Football/ Laura Cilek, Women's Golf
2011 Chris Brant, Men's Golf/ Kelsey Cermak, Women's Basketball
2012 Matt Gatens, Men's Basketball/ Betsy Flood, Women's Track & Field
2013 Eric May, Men's Basketball/ Mareike Schrulle, Women's Cross Country
2014 James Morris, Football/ Theairra Taylor, Women's Basketball

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Bengals keep dabbling with Rex Burkhead at WR

By Paul Dehner Jr.

June 2, 2015

The Bengals unveiled the surprise of running back Rex Burkhead playing receiver in the playoff loss at Indianapolis. His time there came by virtue of significant attrition at the position, but during Tuesday's organized training activity session, he returned to the spot where he caught three passes for 34 yards.

Burkhead worked with receivers and even caught a slick route over the middle for a long gain during the only practice open to the media during this week of OTAs.

Hue Jackson approached Burkhead last year with the idea of slipping over to receiver and sounded determined to find ways to get the 2013 sixth-round pick on the field despite sitting behind Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard on the depth chart.

"He's very talented," Jackson said. "You have a talented player on your team you see if you can find a way to get him involved. He can do a little bit of everything. He can run the ball, too. He can catch, protect. He's one of the better players on our team so we will see what we can do with him."

Burkhead said he's spending about half of his time now with the receivers and half with the running backs. The actual act of receiving the ball comes as the easiest aspect of his transition. The challenge comes with retention of route concepts and different attacking styles when lined up in the slot.

"When you're coming out of the backfield you're usually going against a linebacker and you're usually going against straight-up man. Or it's a simple zone you can read off of," Burkhead said. "Now you've got cover-2, quarters, cloud coverages, and other things you have to learn about.
And you're running against nickel, dimes with corners and safeties. So it's new, especially when I'm running some routes I've never run before."

He caught 60 passes for 507 yards and five touchdowns during his four seasons at Nebraska. Whether running back, receiver or anywhere on the field, Burkhead could care less how he ends up involved.

"Any time you can find a way to get the ball in your hands, you're more than happy to do that," he said. "So yeah, I'm looking for those ways, and hopefully coaches have the confidence in me to get the ball in my hands."

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