Monday, March 20, 2023

Patriots reportedly signing veteran OT Riley Reiff, expect him to start


Chicago Bears offensive tackle Riley Reiff (71) lines up during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won 27-24. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)



PUBLISHED: March 15, 2023 at 10:07 a.m. | UPDATED: March 15, 2023 at 10:20 a.m.


The Patriots are expected to sign free-agent offensive tackle Riley Reiff, according to ESPN.

Reiff, an 11-year veteran, started 10 games last season at right tackle with the Bears but can play both sides. The Patriots expect him to win a starting job in training camp, per The Athletic.

Reiff started his career at left tackle and has enjoyed previous stints in Detroit (2012-16), Minnesota (’17-20), Cincinnati (2021) and Chicago (2022). Last season, Reiff allowed pressure on 6.1% of his pass-blocking snaps, per Pro Football Focus, and posted an average run-blocking grade. In New England, he joins Trent Brown and the newly-signed Calvin Anderson as the top contenders to start at offensive tackle next season.

The Patriots had a revolving door at right tackle last year between Isaiah Wynn, Yodny Cajuste and Conor McDermott. Reiff might also serve as a swing tackle if Brown, Anderson and/or a draft pick win the starting jobs. The 34-year-old is a former captain who also crossed paths with Pats interior lineman James Ferentz in college Iowa.

Before reaching terms with Reiff, the Pats re-signed McDermott and tendered Cajuste, a restricted free agent.

In a postseason press conference, Bears GM Ryan Poles raved about Reiff’s impact on his young team.

“That guy did more than a lot of people think for that O-line room and the mentality,” Poles said. “When I first got here, I wasn’t fired up on how we protected the quarterback in terms of getting ’em off the ground and that attitude and that physicality. He’s a reason why we ran the ball so well. We finished. We had an attitude. We had an identity and that’s a lot because of guys like him.”

Riley played only one snap in the Patriots’ 33-14 loss to Chicago last October, but started the team’s final 10 games. He also started all 12 games he played in with the Bengals in 2021.

Nate Ebner: The best Buckeye value from 6th round of the modern NFL Draft


These Scarlet and Gray legends produced the highest ROI relative to when they were selected in the NFL Draft.

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Since 1936, the first year in which an official pro football draft took place, 481 Ohio State Buckeyes have been selected in the NFL Draft. Two players – Russ Thomas and Bob Meyers – were actually drafted into the NFL twice, in back-to-back (but separate) years. And 14 of those 481 former Buckeyes were also taken in the AFL Draft, including the legendary Hall of Fame wideout Paul Warfield. That makes 497 total draft picks for OSU since Gomer Jones was selected by the NFL’s Chicago Cardinals nearly a century ago.

Of the nearly 500 Buckeyes taken, hundreds have enjoyed successful pro careers, while others flamed out and/or never playing a snap after their time in Columbus. The Ohio State football program has produced NFL Hall of Famers, Pro Bowlers, Players and Rookies of the Year, ten-year tackling dummies, one-and-doners, monumental busts, and everything in between.

All of these former OSU football players share one thing in common, which is their affiliation with THE greatest university on the planet. Conversely, one thing that sets them all apart is their varying degrees of success (or lack thereof) in the NFL.

Another way to look at it is in terms of value. Each of these players produced value – positive or negative – for the team which drafted them. And that is what I am going to look at in the weeks leading up to the 2023 NFL Draft. I am going to attempt to identify the seven best Scarlet and Gray values, picking only one player from each round (length of the modern draft, and going in reverse order).

Before we get started, “best” and “most” must be sorted out. Best value is not the same as most valuable. And most valuable is not same as best value. Warfield, Eddie George, Orlando Pace, Jack Tatum, or Jim Parker would inarguably be among the most valuable (former) Buckeyes at the professional level. All became team captains, Pro Bowlers, eventual Hall of Famers, you name it. But they were also taken within the first 20 picks of their respective drafts, whereas Dick LeBeau made the NFL Hall of Fame as a fifth-rounder.

I might argue that LeBeau was the better overall value because of where/when he was drafted. But going round by round means I do not have to choose between Pace or LeBeau, which is a good thing because there are already plenty of difficult decisions ahead... Without further ado, let’s go bargain shopping.

Round 6: Nate Ebner, Safety

Ebner, a world-class rugby player, joined the Ohio State football team as a walk-on safety in 2009. While obviously familiar with the game, he never even played football for his high school team. And he was a third-year college student by the time he walked on in Columbus! Out of practice and out of his natural element, Ebner’s physicality and aggressiveness earned him an unlikely spot on the roster.

But in three seasons as a Buckeye, he made little if any impact at his DB position. Instead, Ebner made his mark on special teams. Blessed with good speed (4.5 in the 40), he sprinted down the field with reckless abandon on kick coverage. He was known for his win-at-all-costs mentality and willingness to sacrifice his body. Because of his mental makeup and toughness, he quickly garnered respect as a leader on the gridiron. He also earned the nickname “Leonidas” for his resemblance to actor Gerard Butler in the movie 300.

By the end of 2009, Ebner was already considered one of OSU’s best special teams players. And if you remember anything about those Jim Tressel-coached Buckeyes, you remember the emphasis placed on special teams. So to be mentioned as one of the best players on that unit was a real honor, and speaks volumes about how he was viewed by coaches and teammates.

The rugby-playing walk-on more than earned his spot on the roster during the next few seasons. He accumulated 30 special teams tackles during his Ohio State career, but made a larger impact than the stats would tell you. By 2011, Ebner was on scholarship and voted the team’s most inspirational player, as well as its best special teamer.

He also excelled in the classroom, earning All-Academic Big Ten each season he played for OSU. Ebner epitomized what it meant (and means) to be a Buckeye, and was revered by those in the program. His reputation and pro day performance would go on to earn him an unlikely opportunity in the NFL.

As most players do – even if they are not believed to be a highly-coveted draft prospect – Ebner participated in Ohio State’s pro day held after the 2011 season. Despite his limited role, NFL teams and personnel took notice. He ran a 4.47 40-yard dash, had a 39.5 inch vertical jump, and benched 225 pounds 23 times. At 6-feet and just over 200 pounds, he was viewed as a special athlete. Against all odds, the New England Patriots selected Ebner with pick No. 197 in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL draft.

And wouldn’t you know, he contributed right away as a rookie, finishing second on the Pats in special teams tackles and playing close to forty snaps as a safety. Ebner became a roster mainstay in short order and enjoyed plenty of success over the next eight seasons as a core special teamer with virtually no “traditional” positional value.

Ebner won three Super Bowls with New England, was named Second-Team All Pro in 2016, and received unusually high praise from Bill Belichick. The legendary coach once said of the former Buckeye:

“His development has really been outstanding. I would probably put him in the, not the all-time top, but maybe in the top-five percent all time of players that I’ve coached, from where they were in college to how they grew in the NFL.”

The Pats never won fewer than 11 regular season games with Ebner on their roster, although Tom Brady’s presence also played a role in the team’s unprecedented success. But Ebner was a key contributor. Furthermore, he was revered by coaches and teammates and provided leadership and attitude not easily found elsewhere.

Ebner spent years 9 and 10 of his NFL career with the New York Giants, for whom he last suited up in 2021... A decade in the league for a rugby-playing safety, taken in the sixth round of the draft, with one career pass breakup. Pretty unique. And pretty damn impressive.

Ebner only totaled 105 tackles, but played in 133 games during his NFL career — which again, lasted 10 seasons. He received an All-Pro nod in 2016 and legitimately contributed to three Super Bowl-winning teams in New England. While his traditional stats do not jump off the page, there is absolutely no question that Ebner provided tremendous value as a sixth-round draft pick.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Browns special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone might enlist Josh Cribbs and Phil Dawson to help Cade York, returners


Updated: Mar. 10, 2023, 9:36 a.m.|

Published: Mar. 09, 2023, 4:59 p.m.

By Mary Kay Cabot,

CLEVELAND, Ohio - New Browns special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone played with former Browns All-Pro kicker Phil Dawson during Ventrone’s four years here as a special teamer, so he has the bar set high for Cade York at FirstEnergy Stadium.

But after scouting York, the Browns’ fourth-round pick out of LSU last season, when Ventrone was special teams coordinator of the Colts in 2022, he’s can’t wait to get his hands on him.

“It’s not too often you get to actually coach a guy you rank coming out of college at the highest at that position,” Ventrone said on a video conference Thursday. “Last year, grading all of the specialists, the kickers and the punters, I had Cade at the highest. I’m fortunate to be able to coach him this year. I think that he obviously can improve. We’re just going to coach him up, and we’re going to be as good as we can in the kicking phase.”

Ventrone might even enlist the services of Dawson, one of the best kickers in the history of the NFL, to help accelerate York’s progress. After York was drafted last April, he talked to Dawson for about 40 minutes about treacherous conditions at FirstEnergy Stadium and passionate Browns fans, but it might be time for another check-in after York went 10 for 16 at home, and 24 of 32 overall on field goals. He also had three blocked as a rookie.

“I actually touched base with Phil Dawson last year – we played at San Francisco – because he had kicked out there and put our kicker back then – it was (Michael) Badgley – in touch with him just to give him some insight on how the stadium was with the wind and things like that,” Ventrone said. “I think that would be a good resource for Cade honestly to reach out to Phil at some point, which he probably has already.”

Likewise, Ventrone might call on former Browns return ace Josh Cribbs to help inspire the Browns’ ball handlers. A first-team All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler, Cribbs has 11 returns for touchdowns, including eight on kickoffs and three on punts. The eight are tied for second in NFL history.

“Both of those guys would be great resources to bring into our room and talk at some point,” Ventrone said.

While he embraces the power of a big return or game-winning kick, Ventrone won’t swing for the fences.

“Just being able to impact the game is what we want to do,” he said. “First, we’re going to emphasize fundamentals and technique, and then those big plays will come. We’re not going to reach for them.”

Ventrone also understands the mentality of York, who’s such a perfectionist it can be hard to shake off a mistake. It’s one of the first areas he’ll emphasize with his young charge.

“The kicking position, I feel like the best guys, the guys that have the most successful and the best kickers – I have been around quite a bit Phil Dawson, (Adam) Vinatieri, (Stephen) Gostkowski – and the guys who I have coached in Indianapolis – Chase (McLaughlin) this past year-had a good year and (Michael) Badgley – those guys have done a good job of putting misses to bed and moving on and not being so caught up in missing a kick,” Ventrone said. “It’s how fast you can make the correction and then move on to the next kick. I have not had a chance to sit down and actually meet with Cade, but that will be one of the things that I am going to influence for him.”

If Ventrone can have the same impact on York that he had on McLaughlin, the former Browns kicker, in Indy last year, York will be kicking pretty. McLaughlin went 4 for 10 from 40-49 yards in 2021 with the Browns, and improved to 9 of 11 from that distance last season under Ventrone, who led top-10 units in Indy in each of the past three seasons.

“I feel like I have a good understanding of the techniques that are played within the scheme,” Ventrone said. “I’ve actually done it in my career. That’s all I did really. I feel like I have maybe a little bit more insight into the true intricacies of the techniques. I am big, big, big – we will drill it to death – on the fundamentals of the game: footwork, hat placement and playing with the base. I’m going to emphasize that ad nauseam to our players, and ultimately, that’s going to get us the best results. You can’t do anything unless you have good fundamentals and technique. That starts from Day 1.”

You can bet that when Bubba speaks, York will listen.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

New offensive line coach Joe Rudolph officially hired at Notre Dame



Courtesy Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame has made official its hire of Virginia Tech offensive line coach Joe Rudolph for the same role in South Bend. Rudolph also has experience as an offensive coordinator at Wisconsin and Pittsburgh under former Badgers head coach Paul Chyrst. The Tuesday morning announcement comes after Rudolph’s hire was first reported on Feb. 27.

“We are excited to add offensive line coach Joe Rudolph to our staff,” Irish head coach Marcus Freeman said in a statement. “He has a proven track record of developing elite college football players, many of whom have gone on to also experience great success in the NFL. We look forward to Joe having a similar impact in our program.”

Rudolph replaces Harry Hiestand at Notre Dame after Hiestand retired following Tommy Rees’s departure for Alabama. He has a lengthy history of being prominently involved in run-first offenses, as Chryst’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at both of his head-coaching stops.

As Irish head coach Marcus Freeman and newly-promoted offensive coordinator Gerad Parker looked for their offensive line coach, they emphasized remaining a run-first offense.

“The thing we know we are built on, we want to be o-line driven,” Parker said when in his introductory press conference on Feb. 20. “We want to be built from inside-out. With what we have returning up front and with our running backs and tight ends, to be able to control a box, that’s where it always has to start.”

With three proven running backs in rising juniors Audric Estimé and Logan Diggs, and rising senior Chris Tyree, along with two possible preseason All-Americans at tackle in rising juniors Joe Alt (left tackle) and Blake Fisher (right tackle), Rudolph should have a clear foundation to establish such a run game up front. Add in three-year starter Zeke Correll at center, and Rudolph’s offensive line is left with only two questions: Who will start at left guard and right guard?

There is talent at the interior position, just little proven with Josh Lugg and Jarrett Patterson matriculating. Expect fifth-year Andrew Kristofic, rising junior Rocco Spindler and rising sophomore Billy Schrauth to get the first cracks at earning a starting spot this spring, with practices beginning March 22.

While coaching the Badgers, Rudolph played a part in developing six offensive linemen into NFL draft picks, notably 2017 first-round tackle Ryan Ramczyk and 2020 fourth-round center Tyler Biadasz, a 2022 Pro Bowler.

At both Pittsburgh and Wisconsin, Rudolph’s offenses developed into run-first offenses, quite distinct improvements over the years when looking at his first two seasons at each. Disregard Rudolph’s first two (out of three) years with the Panthers and his first two (out of seven) years with the Badgers and six of the remaining seven offenses (the exception being the 2020 Wisconsin rendition) finished in the top 25 in the country in at least two of the three primary rushing stats: rushing yards per game, rushing attempts per game and yards per carry.

Notre Dame may not have the same long-standing ethos of run-first offenses as Wisconsin does — just like a band needing a fiddle if it wants to play in Texas, an offense needs a bellcow of a running back if it wants to play in Camp Randall — but Freeman has preached the running game since the moment he was hired as the Irish head coach. Adding an offensive line coach with a decade of coordinating run-first offenses on his résumé underscores that.

2012 — No. 94 in rushing yards per game, No. 64 in rushing attempts per game, No. 104 in yards per carry
2013 — No. 103, No. 104, No. 101
2014 — No. 16, No. 12, No. 18

2015 — No. 95 in rushing yards per game, No. 59 in rushing attempts per game, No. 104 in yards per carry
2016 — No. 39, No. 11, No. 71
2017 — No. 23, No. 17, No. 30
2018 — No. 6, No. 17, No. 4
2019 — No. 15, No. 18, No. 12
2020 — No. 62, No. 30, No. 83
2021 — No. 22, No. 17, No. 35

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Three Candidates To Be Next Cleveland Browns Special Teams Coordinator


Wendi Oliveros

February 21 2023

The Cleveland Browns made a late decision to fire the 2022 special teams coordinator Mike Priefer on February 21, 2023.

By NFL standards, a head coach that remains in the job (as Kevin Stefanski is) usually fires staff members at the end of the season.

He fired the defensive coordinator Joe Woods over a month ago.

Some believe the late-in-the-game firing means that Stefanski has a candidate in mind who is suddenly becoming available.

It is not clear if that is the case.

Here are three potential candidates for the vacant Browns special teams coordinator job ranked in descending order for the likelihood of getting hired.

3. Phil Dawson

48-year-old Phil Dawson has not been contacted by the Browns for an interview, but he would be an outstanding special teams coach for the team.

He is a living legend in Cleveland, spending 14 years as the Browns kicker from 1999-2012.

Dawson knows the intricacies of kicking at FirstEnergy Stadium because of the wind and conditions and would be a great coach and mentor for Browns second-year kicker Cade York out of LSU.

2. Raymond “Bubba” Ventrone

The Browns want to interview Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone, 40.

This would be a lateral move for him so the Colts could prohibit the interview from happening.

Ventrone spent four seasons with the Browns from 2009-2012 and was part of their special teams unit.

He would be a fan favorite, but the fact that it is a lateral move complicates things.

1. Anthony Blevins

The Browns have requested permission from the New York Giants to interview assistant special teams coordinator Anthony Blevins.

The Giants cannot refuse because this would be a promotion for Blevins.

Blevins is 46 years old and a former XFL player.

He started in 2018 and has worn a lot of hats on the Giants coaching staff.

Blevins began as the Giants’ assistant special teams coach but also served as the assistant defensive backs coach and the assistant linebackers coach.

Prior to his time with the Giants, he was the assistant special teams coach for the Arizona Cardinals from 2013-2017.

Blevins has plenty of experience, and this would be a well-deserved promotion which is why he is the most likely candidate to get the job.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Matt Guerrieri Named IU's Co-Defensive Coordinator and Safeties Coach


February 17, 2023

IU Athletics Release

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana head football coach Tom Allen announced the hiring of Matt Guerrieri (gurr-AIR-ee) as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach on Friday afternoon.

“Matt fits in perfectly with our culture and aligns with our goals schematically,” Allen said. “He is innovative, energetic, and a tremendous family man. We welcome Matt, his wife, Alex, and their son, James, to IU!” 

Guerrieri spent 2012-21 at Duke, including four years as defensive coordinator, and joined the Ohio State staff in 2022.

“I am excited for the opportunity to join Coach Allen and his staff at IU,” Guerrieri said. “Coach Allen is a great coach and I look forward to working with him. My family and I can’t wait to get to Bloomington!”

Guerrieri has been a part of a College Football Playoff semifinalist, seven bowl teams, two 10-plus win teams, and five eight-plus win teams during his coaching career.

He served as a senior advisor and analyst with the Buckeyes before being named defensive coordinator at Tulsa on Jan. 6, 2023.

With the Blue Devils, Guerrieri was co-defensive coordinator from 2018-21 and safeties coach from 2015-21. He worked as a graduate assistant his first three campaigns.

Guerrieri was one of three finalists for the 2020 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Assistant Coach of the Year, a nominee for the 2018 Broyles Award, and one of 247Sports Top 30 Coaches Under 30 in 2018 and 2019.

He mentored All-American Jeremy Cash and five additional all-conference honorees. The 2015 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Cash also was a finalist for both the Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player in the nation) and the Thorpe Award (top defensive back in the nation).

Guerrieri’s 2019 secondary propelled Duke to third in the ACC in pass defense, allowing just 199.0 yards per game, and a top-five finish in pass defense efficiency (123.8). 

The 2017 Blue Devils ranked among the conference leaders in opponent pass completion percentage (2nd), scoring defense (3rd), passing defense (3rd), and total defense (4th). They yielded 25-or-fewer points in 11-of-13 contests.

Duke surrendered 20.23 points per game, the program’s lowest total since 1977.

Guerrieri took part in the inaugural AFCA 30 Under 30 Coaches Leadership Institute in 2015.

Before joining the Blue Devils, Guerrieri spent 2011 as a defensive graduate assistant at Lenoir-Rhyne University, where he helped coach the secondary and the outside linebackers.

A three-year letterman at Davidson College, Guerrieri started at safety for the Wildcats. He was a senior captain and a three-time All-Pioneer Football League Honor Roll selection.

Guerrieri graduated from Davidson in 2011 with a degree in sociology. He earned his master’s degree in Christian studies from Duke in 2014.

Matt is married to the former Alex Thompson and the couple has one son, James.

Allen Hands Defensive Play Calling to Matt Guerrieri


February 18, 2023

Written by Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)

The Indiana Hoosiers will have a new defensive play caller in 2023 as head coach Tom Allen said he will be handing the reins of the defense over to new co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Matt Guerrieri at his introductory press conference on Saturday morning.

“So excited to have him with us. Going to be a -- the situation is the way that I would like for this to be organized. Really, I want to follow the pattern we used in 2019.” Allen explained. “I'm going to have -- Coach Guerrieri will be calling the defense, much like Coach [Kane] Wommack did. And I will be heavily involved, but he will be the play-caller on game day. That way it will allow me to be a better head football coach to it this team. With everything that we have and the dynamics of college football today, I really feel like that's the best direction to go but had to have the right person for that particular role.”

Allen took over the play calling for the 2022 season as defensive coordinator Chad Wilt adjusted to his first year at the position. The Hoosier defense finished 120th nationally in scoring and 119th in total defense in the 2022 season.


Allen and the Hoosiers want to replicate the success they had in 2019 and 2020 when Allen handed the reins over to then-defensive coordinator Kane Wommack (current head coach at South Alabama).

“I can equate it to what we did in '19, that it's going to be our system and someone that really believes in it. And just from all that time together and then just obviously, you know, you watch people play and the things that they do and there's certain philosophical alignments that you have in, how you attack things, what are your answers in situations, and you have to have that core belief that that's how do you it.” Allen said.

Guerrieri has similar philosophies to Allen and believes he will be able to take IU’s defense to the next level.

His philosophy “aligns directly with Coach Allen's. We've been a base 4-2-5 for a number of years. I've played in numerous different -- I played in the 3-4 defense. I've been in a 4-3 and a 3-3-5 and 4-2-5. I think it goes to from a philosophy standpoint, Coach Allen would say tackling, take-aways, and effort. Those are the three pillars of who we are. That's not going to change from that standpoint.” Guerrieri said on Saturday.

The Hoosiers are set to open spring practice on March 4th culminating in a “Spring Football Event” on Saturday, April 15th.

Friday, February 17, 2023



The IHSAA is proud to announce the 2023 honorees for induction into the IHSAA Wrestling Hall of Fame, IHSAA Officials Hall of Fame, and escort for the Grand March, to be recognized on February 18 before the state championship matches at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. 


Below is brief biographical information on each Hall of Fame selection and award winner. More information on IHSAA awards is available in the annual state tournament program, available for $5 at Wells Fargo Arena or through the IHSAA website and office.




AUSTIN BLYTHE, Williamsburg – Blythe was a rare four-time finalist and three-time champion at heavyweight, graduating in 2011 with a career record of 188-11. The three-sport star won 146 of his matches by fall – a state record at the time – and helped lead the Raiders to the State Dual Team Tournament in 2010 and 2011. He went on to play college football at the University of Iowa, starting 52 games over four seasons and earning All-Big Ten and third team All-American honors in 2015. He has been an NFL offensive lineman since, starting 72 games for the Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, and Seattle Seahawks. The son of Curt and Mary Blythe, Austin and his wife Kiley have three children: Reed, Callie, and Hayden.


JOHNNY GALLOWAY JR., Waterloo, East & Iowa City, City High – A three-time state champion (2000-02), Galloway didn’t lose a match to an Iowa-based wrestler in his final three varsity seasons. After winning at 145 as a sophomore at Waterloo East, he went to City High and his title runs at 152 and 160 led the Little Hawks to runner-up finishes in both the traditional and dual team tournaments. Galloway graduated with a varsity record of 154-8, four MVC and district titles, and was believed to be the first African American three-time champ since Paul Stinson (1963-65). He was named USA Wrestling first team All-American in 2002 and went on to compete at Lindenwood and then Northern Illinois, where he was a three-time NCAA tournament qualifier and MAC champ. Galloway has worked in community and correctional services, currently serving as a pre-trial conditional release agent in Minnesota, where he lives with his wife Leticia and sons Jakai and Johnny III.


COLE WELTER, Don Bosco, Gilbertville – Welter was the first Don Bosco wrestler to graduate with three state titles (2007, 2009-10) and helped lead the Dons to four titles in the traditional tournament and dual team tournament during his varsity career. He graduated with career record of 162-14 while also being a two-time all-state player in baseball. Welter went on to wrestle at Wartburg College, going 113-24 in four seasons and again winning four titles each in the NCAA Division III tournament and dual team events. He capped three national tournaments with the 2014 championship at 165 pounds. He returned to Don Bosco as an assistant coach in 2016. Welter works for Stryker Orthopaedics as a product specialist, traveling eastern Iowa hospitals and assisting surgeons and staffs with total joint replacement surgeries. The son of Rob and Jammi Welter now lives in Raymond with his wife Nicole and daughter Blake.



DARIN SCHRECK, Norwalk – A state qualifier at Des Moines East who went on to teach and coach at three schools – Carlisle (1995-2000), Eagle Grove (2000-06), Norwalk (2006-12) – to great success over 17 total seasons. Schreck’s teams won nine total conference titles, with at least three coming at each school. Eagle Grove qualified for the State Dual Team Tournament three times under Schreck’s leadership. In total, he coached 44 state qualifiers, 27 place-winners, and six state champions. His career dual team record was 287-67 before going into athletic administration, and he currently serves as athletic director at Carlisle. Darin and his wife Jill live in Norwalk and have three adult kids: Sarah, Rylie, and Nico.



CRESCO HONOREES – Posthumous Hall of Fame honors are being given to four former Cresco standouts for their accomplishments. All four are prior selections to the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame.


Bob Hess, 1928: A champion in 1927 and runner-up in 1928 helped establish Cresco’s program and clinch the team title in his senior season. Hess attended Iowa State University and won National Collegiate titles in 1932 and 1933. Passed in 1998.


Dale Hanson, 1935: A two-time champion at 85 pounds and 105 pounds in 1934 and 1935, Hanson went on to win the 1939 NCAA championship with the University of Minnesota and was unbeaten in three straight years of dual team competition. Hanson enlisted in the Air Force in his senior year, serving at Pearl Harbor in 1941 and Midway in 1942 before losing his life as a co-pilot in October 1942 near current Papua New Guinea.


Don Nichols, 1935: A state champ at 85 pounds in 1933 and 135 in 1935, the brother of Harold Nichols lost only one dual match as a varsity wrestler. Nichols went on to wrestle for legendary coach Cliff Keen at the University of Michigan, where he was a two-time Big Ten champion and 1940 national champion. Nichols was named outstanding wrestler of that tournament. Passed in 2007.


Gene Lybbert, 1948: A two-time runner-up as an individual and part of Cresco’s team title in 1948, Lybbert’s wrestling career peaked in college. He capped a run to three National AAU tournaments with an undefeated and NCAA title run in 1952 for Iowa State Teachers College. Passed in 2019.




GREG BECKER, Waterloo: After a successful run as a wrestler at Don Bosco capped by the record-breaking 1979 team, Hall of Fame coach Bob Siddens encouraged Becker to give back to wrestling as an official. He started in 1980 and hasn’t stopped, officiating for 41 seasons with consistent postseason honors. Becker has officiated 26 state tournaments, including 18 state finals, and 14 state dual team tournaments. He also tallies 32 sectional tournaments, 28 district tournaments, 27 regional duals, and now three state girls’ wrestling tournaments. Becker was named state official of the year in 2009 and was part of the Grand March escort group from Don Bosco’s 1979 team. The son of Dick and Pat, Greg has four adult children – Brianna, Carissa, Brett, and Erica – and he and his partner Kristin live in Waterloo.


BRIAN GRAY, Winterset: The son of Hall of Fame official Rich Gray was an early state wrestling tournament attendee and even qualified twice for the tournament himself for Interstate 35. Gray started officiating during his freshman year of college and was mentored by his father and longtime official John Monroe during a rapid rise. He received postseason assignments in his fourth and fifth seasons, then officiated the state tournament at age 26. Gray is working his 24th state tournament 17th state finals this week, along with 12 state dual team tournaments. He was also honored by IWCOA as state official of the year this year. A co-founder of the Central Iowa Wrestling Officials Association and served as president for seven years. Gray lives in Winterset with his girlfriend Tiffany and son Cody.




Brad Smith, Lisbon

The Iowa High School Athletic Association is honored to have coach Brad Smith, Iowa’s all-time dual meet wins leader and a 12-time state tournament team champion, lead the 2023 grand march ahead of Saturday night’s finals at Wells Fargo Arena.


Smith’s legendary coaching career has spanned 45 seasons at Lisbon and Iowa City, City High. The Illinois native holds numerous state records and cross 700 career dual meet victories this season, extending the top mark he set in 2020. Smith was a 2011 inductee to the IHSAA Wrestling Hall of Fame and has also received career honors from the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame and National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Smith was a two-time state champion at John Hersey in Arlington Heights, Illinois in 1971 and 1972. He then went to wrestle for coaches Gary Kurdelmeier and Dan Gable at the University of Iowa, competing on NCAA championship teams in 1975 and 1976. Smith won an NCAA title of his own at 142 pounds in 1976.


He dove into coaching, taking the head job at Lisbon in 1978. Smith led the Lions for 13 seasons, then went to City High in 1991 and spent the next 21 seasons there. Now 11 seasons into his second stint at Lisbon, Smith has coached 63 individual state champions, 304 state qualifiers, and 174 place-winners. His teams have also won seven dual team titles and claimed 18 total state runner-up trophies. A two-time Iowa coach of the year and two-time National coach of the year, Smith has spent over 20 years on the Iowa coaching staff for the junior national freestyle teams.


Smith and his wife Connie have three sons – Jacob, Cody, Colton – and six grandchildren.


The IHSAA sincerely appreciates Smith’s contributions to Iowa high school athletics and wrestling in our state. The grand march will begin following Hall of Fame and awards ceremonies on Saturday night, and lead all place-winners into Wells Fargo Arena ahead of the 42 state championship matches.

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