Monday, June 29, 2020

Lions’ defensive end Trey Flowers gives back to Huntsville community

Posted: Jun 27, 2020 / 06:12 PM CDT Updated: Jun 27, 2020 / 06:12 PM CDT

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Born and raised in Huntsville, NFL defensive end Trey Flowers has never forgotten where it all started. The former Columbia High standout won two Super Bowls as a member of the New England Patriots, and in 2020 he’ll enter his second season with the Detroit Lions. No matter what city he plays in though, this will always be his home.

Flowers is using his platform to give back to his community through his Flowers of the Future foundation. The 26 year old was out and about Friday evening in the Rocket City distributing free drive-thru meals.

His foundation seeks to invest in the lives of young people and promotes positive change in both Huntsville and Detroit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s definitely important,” said Flowers. Obviously understanding I grew up here and knowing that with the situation that’s going on just you know how many lives it could affect.”

Flowers added, “Even just the kids being at home not getting the meal from the school and things like that, but you know just helping out trying to do my fair share and help out with feeding or giving them a meal.”

Flowers and the Lions will open up the preseason August 13-17 against his former team, the New England Patriots.

Notre Dame: Top 5 Offensive Line Recruits Of The Last Decade

Bryan Driskell
19 hours ago

Notre Dame has recruited the offensive line as well as any team in the country over the last decade plus since head coach Brian Kelly arrived in South Bend.

Former line coach Ed Warriner did some good things, and current line coach Jeff Quinn has made a couple of strong pickups. Former line coach Harry Hiestand was a dominant recruiter and coach. Working through the 2020 offensive line preview today I got to thinking about the line recruiting we’ve seen at Notre Dame, and who were the best of the best.

I am taking into account my own ranking of each player and the ranking of the national services (Rivals, ESPN, Scout, 247Sports).

Recruited By: Harry Hiestand
Rivals: #29 nationally
Scout: #46 nationally
247: #75 nationally
ESPN: #175 nationally

Nelson was a truly dominant high school player for Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic. He was big, physical and athletic playing tackle for Caseys. Nelson was an Army All-American and a Top 100 recruit by Rivals, Scout and 247Sports. How ESPN saw him as a non-Top 100 player is quite the mystery.
Rivals was the only network to rank Nelson as a five-star recruit. Nelson, of course, went onto become an All-American at Notre Dame, which was followed by him being the No. 6 overall draft pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Recruited By: Harry Hiestand
247: #60
ESPN: #67
Scout: #79
Rivals: #194

There were other players ranked higher by the recruiting services, but Eichenberg is this high because of how I graded him coming out of high school. Eichenberg was my No. 1 ranked Notre Dame recruit in the 2016 class, and 247Sports, ESPN and Scout all ranked him as a Top 100 recruit.

Rivals had him as a three-star recruit until the final rankings, which came after he dominated at the Under Armour All-American Game, but their ranking of him was still well below the other services, and where Eichenberg should have been ranked.

Recruited By: Harry Hiestand
247: #8
Scout: #37
Rivals: #41
ESPN: #99

Kraemer was the top-ranked recruit according to the services. Kraemer was the #8 overall player in the country according to 247Sports, and he was a five-star and the #26 overall player on the composite ranking. Nelson ranked #61 on the composite list due to him being ranked absurdly low by ESPN.

Kraemer was a brute right tackle for Cincinnati (Ohio) Elder, and graded out as as Top 50 recruit on my board and by 247Sports, Scout and Rivals. He’s the only consensus Top 100 recruit to sign with Notre Dame in the last decade.

4. TOSH BAKER, 2020
Recruited By: Jeff Quinn
247: #42
Rivals: #51
ESPN: #187

We will have to wait and see if Baker’s lofty ranking was worth it, but based on high school film he had a unique combination that is hard to match. Baker graded out as a Top 50 player on my board and ranked #42 nationally by 247Sports. Rivals had him just outside the Top 50 as well.

Baker was an Under Armour All-American after a brilliant career at Phoenix (Ariz.) Pinnacle. He’s a long and athletic player that was also a starting center on the dominant Pinnacle hoops team. He has left tackle written all over him.

Recruited By: Ed Warinner
ESPN: #36
Rivals: #70
247: #84
Scout: #105

Hegarty was the next closest player to Kraemer when it comes to being a consensus Top 100 recruit. The Army All-American was a top-notch athlete for Aztec (N.M.) High School, dominating as a left tackle. 

He didn’t have the great size of other players on this list, which is why he ultimately moved inside, but he was a brilliant high school football player.


*** Ronnie Stanley didn’t make this list because the recruiting services greatly undervalued him. Scout had him as a Top 100 recruit, but he was ranked #145 by 247Sports, #176 by Rivals and ESPN didn’t even have him in their Top 300.

*** Robert Hainsey was a consensus Top 150 recruit after a stellar career at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy. He was a bit undersized, but his technique, toughness and leadership made him a dominant prep player.

*** Alex Bars was a Top 100 recruit according to both ESPN (#76) and Rivals (#98). He didn’t make the cut due to him not making the Top 150 by 247Sports and Scout.

*** Joshua Lugg was ranked #84 overall by 247Sports and #107 by Scout, but he didn’t make the cut because Rivals had him ranked all the way down at #236.

*** Steve Elmer was ranked #60 by Rivals and #74 by Scout, but he didn’t make this list due to ESPN leaving him out of their Top 300. I liked Elmer as well, but not quite enough to put him above other players in the list.

Is Anthony Pleasant the best to wear No. 98? Ranking the best Browns to wear each jersey number: 96-99

Updated 1:25 PM; Today 1:00 PM

Oilers quarterback Warren Moon is sacked by the Browns defensive end Anthony Pleasant during a game in 1990. Plain Dealer photo.

CLEVELAND, Ohio – We’ve reached the end of our rankings of the best Browns to wear each jersey number. The series concludes with numbers 96-99, highlighted by edge rushers and defensive linemen.
The rankings are below. 
NOTE: Rankings consider how players performed while wearing a specific number, not their careers as a whole. The goal is to rank five players at each number. However, some numbers are low on impactful candidaes. 
To get caught up the numbers so far, check out:

Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway (7) tries to elude Cleveland Browns defender Reggie Camp during the AFC Championship game in 1987.AP

Years: 1983-87.
Others: Kenard Lang, DE/LB (2002-05); James Jones, DT (1991-94); Dave Bowens, LB (2009-10); Don Shula, DB (1951)

A third-round pick in 1983, Camp stepped right into a starting role and started every game over his first four seasons. A knee injury in 1987 limited him to six games, and he was waived before the next season.

But before he left, Camp had 35 sacks, including 14 in 1984, a total that is second-most in a single season for the Browns.

Lang, a first-round pick of the Redskins in 1991, signed with the Browns as a free agent. He had 22.5 sacks over four seasons, along with 209 tackles. The Browns tried to convert him to linebacker in 2005, resulting in just five starts and two sacks. He was released shortly after the season ended.

Jones, a third-round pick, started every game for the Browns in his first two seasons, and 49 of 62 games over four seasons before leaving in free agency. He had 13.5 sacks and 165 tackles in Cleveland.

Bowens was a nine-year NFL vet when he was signed as a free agent in 2009. He returned two interceptions for touchdowns in 2010 and had six sacks and 111 tackles over two seasons.

Shula, the Hall of Fame head coach, was a ninth-round pick of the Browns in 1951 and wore No. 96 for his rookie year. He started six games and had four interceptions that season. In 1953 he was one of 10 players sent to the Colts in a 15-player deal. The Browns received Hall of Famer Mike McCormack in the trade, along with Don Colo. Both players claimed jersey numbers earlier in our rankings.

Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard (97) fights off Detroit Lions center Travis Swanson (64) during a preseason game in 2014.AP

Years: 2011-14.
Others: Alvin McKinley, DL (2001-06); Robert Banks, DE (1989-90).

Sheard was a second-round pick and had an immediate impact, totaling 8.5 sacks as a rookie. He was moved to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense his final two years with the team. After 15 sacks in his first two seasons, he managed 7.5 over the next two and left in free agency in 2015.

Still, Sheard’s 23 sacks, 190 tackles, 27 tackles for loss and 92 quarterback hits are enough to top the rankings at No. 97.

McKinley, claimed off waivers from the Panthers after his rookie year, didn’t become a starter until his final two seasons with the Browns. He had five sacks and 68 tackles in 16 starts in 2005.

Banks, the best of the rest, had four sacks in 1989 and started 24 games over two seasons.

Houston Oilers quarterback Chris Chandler (12) throws a pass as Cleveland Browns lineman Anthony Pleasant (98) reaches for it during a game in 1995.AP
Years: 1990-95.
Others: Sheldon Richardson, DT (2019); Phil Taylor, DT (2011-14); Ebenezer Ekuban, DE (2004); Jamie Meder, DT (2015-17). 

A third-round pick, Pleasant was a full-time starter over his final four seasons. He had 11 sacks in 1993 and an NFL-high six forced fumbles in 1995.

His final numbers included 33.5 sacks, 297 tackles and nine forced fumbles.

Richardson’s one season with the Browns so far propelled him to second place in our rankings. He had three sacks, 62 tackles and three forced fumbles in 2019.

Taylor, the 21st pick in 2011, started all 16 games as a rookie, totaling four sacks, but injuries became a staple of his career. A chest injury in 2012 limited him to eight games, and a knee injury in 2014 idled him for 11. He had seven sacks and 109 tackles over four seasons before being released.

Ekuban, signed as a free agent, played one season with the Browns, totaling eight sacks in 11 starts. He was traded to the Broncos a year later in the deal that brought Reuben Droughns to Cleveland.

Meder sneaks onto the rankings as a 15-game starter in 2016. He has just two career sacks, but one of the biggest blocked field goals in recent Browns history, allowing the Browns to defeat the Chargers for their only win in 2016.

Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Orpheus Roye stretches during a training camp practice in 2007.AP

Years: 2000-07.
Others: Paul Kruger, LB (2013-15); Bill Boedeker, HB (1947-49); Keith Baldwin, DE (1982-85); Corey Williams, DE (2008-09).

Roye completes our rankings by easily claiming the No. 99 jersey. Signed as a free agent after four seasons with the Steelers, Roye was a mainstay along the interior of the defensive line for eight seasons.

He started 102 of 113 games, had 9.5 sacks and 387 tackles. His most productive season might’ve been 2005 when he had 88 tackles and three sacks. A knee injury hampered his final season (2008), and he was released.

Kruger turned his nine sacks in a limited role with the Ravens in 2012 into a five-year, $40-million deal with the Browns in 2013. He had 18 sacks over three seasons with the Browns, with 11 coming in 2014. He was released in 2016 as part of the Browns’ roster rebuild.

Boedeker was an example of the depth the Browns had in the AAFC. He rushed for 717 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 32 passes for 783 yards and five touchdowns (averaging 24.5 yards per catch) over three seasons.

Baldwin, a second-round pick, had 4.5 sacks in 1984, his one season as a full-time starter.

The Browns traded a second-round pick to the Packers in 2008 for Williams, who was coming off two straight seasons with seven sacks. He signed a six-year deal worth $38.6 million, then had 4.5 sacks and 81 tackles over two seasons. The Browns traded Williams (along with a seventh-round pick) to the Lions for a fifth-round pick in 2010.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Antonino Calandra – 2019 USA Wrestling National Champion

Congratulations to Antonino Calandra on being the 2019 U.S. Open Masters Men’s Freestyle National Championships Champion!

Veteran Vols defender hails new D-line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh

ByPATRICK BROWN 6 hours ago

Matthew Butler is on the third different position coach of his Tennessee career, but the veteran defensive lineman so far has liked what first-year defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh has brought to the programTracy Rocker coached the Vols' defensive line the past two seasons before moving on (he's now at South Carolina), and Tennessee replaced one veteran with another in hiring Brumbaugh. The former Auburn standout has built a strong reputation as a coach at Syracuse, Kentucky, Maryland and Colorado.

Brumbaugh has taken over a senior-laden Tennessee defensive line, a hard-working, no-nonsense group that took well to Rocker's coaching style, and he's made a connection with his new players over the past few months, according to Butler, despite being separated from them and only getting two spring practices in back in March.

During his appearance on the latest episode of "The Slice" podcast hosted by VFL Films producer and Vol Network reporter Kasey Funderburg, Butler revealed how Brumbaugh has gone about getting to know his mostly position group.

“He is very attention-to-detail, very meticulous in his work. He expects the best from us,” Butler said, “and he’s going to talk to us as men. We come in there, and let’s just say we came in on a Zoom call, we don’t just get into the plays. He’s going to ask us how we’re doing. He expects us to answer honestly, and if we ain’t doing so well, he’s going to holler at us. He’s very thorough.

“There’s times where he’s called me a few times a day to make sure I was good, to make sure that, maybe we had a Zoom meeting that day, to make sure that I understood where he was coming from. He wants to make sure that the way that he’s teaching us, that’s actually getting through to us, because we’ve probably heard it two or three or four different ways at this point.

“He’s meticulous, thorough and attention-to-detail, and he has a resume with him as well, very respectable and continuing to gain my respect and appreciation, just him being my coach, defensive line coach.”

Butler, who led Tennessee defensive linemen with 45 tackles and added three tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and two pass breakups in 2019, said he especially appreciates Brumbaugh constantly checking in on how players are doing mentally, and those efforts to form a more personal connection have resonated with the veteran defender.

“It means a lot, just because in today’s day and age when business is business, it’s tough sometimes just having a truly personal connection,” Butler said. “Then you add on top of that, I’m not speaking from my personal perspective, but you add on top of that just anybody and everybody’s struggle with their mental health. It’s very important for somebody, whether they be a peer or whether they be a quote-unquote superior, or maybe if you’re somebody’s superior, that’s just somebody who’s checking on you. That’s solid and appreciated.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Beyond the Game: 2nd & Foundation turns 21, has grown into 172 schools

Tuesday, June 23rd 2020

COLUMBUS -- The 2nd and & 7 Foundation had its popular summer football camp derailed by Covid-19 but the virtual alternative has been a hit.
"I think we've had more attention there than the physical camp," 2nd & 7 co-founder Ryan Miller told ABC-6 Tuesday. "I'm sure it's not quite the four-hour running around and sweating like the normal camp but I'm glad kids are engaged."
The 2nd and 7 Foundation was started in 1999 by three former Ohio State Buckeye football players—Ryan Miller, Luke Fickell, and Mike Vrabel. Inspired by their involvement in various community outreach programs as student-athletes, they decided to continue to make a difference by promoting literacy and providing positive role models for children in central Ohio.
"We've seen the numbers and literacy puts kids so much further ahead and being able to achieve in school," Miller added.
Over the past 20 years, the program has grown to 180 communities in 26 states. The “Tackling Illiteracy” program encourages student-athletes from universities and high schools across the nation to participate in weekly readings in second-grade classrooms. While in the classrooms, they are reading to the kids, passing out FREE books for the kids to take home and reminding the kids why it is so important to read.
The 2nd and 7 Foundation created a book series called the Hog Mollies; each book teaches valuable life lessons. In 2020, 2nd & 7 released the 13th book in the series!
Student-athletes from universities and high schools across the nation are a huge part of our program. They are out in the schools each week, reading to kids, handing out books, and reminding the 2nd graders why reading is so important. They also use the themes in the Hog Mollies books to reiterate valuable life lessons.

Mel Tucker talks lessons from Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez

ByNICK KOSKO Jun 22, 10:01 AM

Mel Tucker became the Michigan State coach seemingly out of nowhere after one year at Colorado. In a unique offseason, Tucker has a tall task to rebuild the Spartans football program after the departure of Mark Dantonio.

However, he at least has a figure to look up to for coaching advice heading into the Big Ten. Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez, who coached the Badgers from 1990-2005, was Tucker’s coach when Tucker played at Wisconsin from 1990-94.

Speaking on the Move the Sticks Podcast, Tucker praised and credited Alvarez for his development as a coach and thinks the lessons from him will lead to success at Michigan State.

“Coach Alvarez is a great coach, a great man, a great leader,” Tucker said on the Move the Sticks Podcast. “My freshman year we were 1-10, then 5-6, 5-6, Rose Bowl Champs. Coach Alvarez was unwavering. He would always talk to us about ‘never flinch.’ Never blink. He was just staunchly committed to a vision of building a championship program through hustle, effort, toughness, mental toughness, physical toughness, team, unselfishness day in and day out. He never wavered. His assistant coaches never wavered. Through recruiting, he was able to build that program with those core values and principles that we can all understand. Eventually he was able to get that program turned around. I learned a great deal from him in that regard.”

Alvarez finished with a 120-73-1 record as head coach of Wisconsin and Tucker referenced the 1993 and ‘94 turnaround after the beginning of his career. In 1993, Wisconsin finished 10-1-1 as Rose Bowl champions and in Tucker’s final year as a player in 1994, Wisconsin finished 8-3-1 and won the Hall of Fame Bowl under Alvarez.

Tucker received his first head coaching opportunity in 2019 with Colorado and the Buffaloes finished 5-7.

CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli ranked all of the coaches in the Power Five level, releasing numbers 26-65 last month. Tucker checked in at No. 55 on the list, despite his under .500 record in his first year of coaching. That is a nine-spot bump from his ranking of No. 64 in 2019.

“He climbed from No. 64 to No. 55 with the move to Michigan State,” Fornelli wrote. “My theory is it has a lot more to do with all the new hires than our voters being overly impressed by his 5-7 season in Colorado. He steps into a difficult situation at Michigan State thanks in part to the timing of his hire and lack of spring practice.”

Tucker’s coaching career actually starting at Michigan State, serving as a graduate assistant on the 1997 and 1998 teams. After that, Tucker coached defensive backs at Miami (Ohio), LSU and Ohio State, before leaving to coaching in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears from 2005-2014. Prior to Colorado, Tucker served as the associate head coach and defensive backs coach with Alabama (2015) and the defensive coordinator for Georgia (2016-18).

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