Monday, April 22, 2024

Paris bound: Fowlerville wrestler Adam Coon qualifies for Olympics

Bill Khan

Livingston Daily

There were only 12 male wrestlers in the nation who won their divisions Saturday in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, but two are from Fowlerville High School.

Adam Coon won the 130-kilogram Greco-Roman championship and Dalton Roberts won the 60-kilogram Greco-Roman title in State College, Pa.

Coon qualified for the Summer Olympics July 26-Aug. 11 in Paris, while Roberts will have to qualify his weight class for the Olympics by reaching the championship round in the World Olympic Qualifier May 9-12 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Coon won the Trials three years ago, but his weight class wasn’t qualified to represent the United States in Tokyo. He had to reach the championship round of the Olympic Qualifier, but lost in the quarterfinals.

He gave up wrestling to pursue an NFL career, signing with the Tennessee Titans. He was injured before training camp in 2021 and returned to wrestling in early 2023 to pursue his Olympic dream after two close calls.

“When I’m sitting behind a desk using my aerospace engineering degree, which would I prefer to have in my back pocket when I’m there?” Coon told the Livingston Daily in January 2023. “An Olympic gold medal or an NFL career?

“So, that’s where my head and heart ended up going. I wanted to pursue Olympic gold.”

Coon, a 2013 Fowlerville graduate who was a four-time state champion, was an Olympic alternate in 2016 while wrestling for the University of Michigan before winning the Trials in 2021.

In the championship round against Schultz, whom he had wrestled nine previous times, Coon lost 3-1 in the first match.

The second match was tied 1-1, with Coon winning on criteria.

In the deciding match, Coon took a 4-0 lead through the first of two periods. After Coon was called for passivity, giving Schultz a point, Coon got a takedown to go up 6-1 with a minute left in the match.

Roberts, a two-time world championships qualifier, won both of his finals matches against two-time Olympian Ildar Hafizov to win the Trials.

Roberts earned one point each for passivity and a step-out to win the first match 2-0.

Trailing 2-1 after one period in the second match, Roberts got a takedown to win 3-2 and capture the championship.

Roberts beat Hafizov to make the world championship team in 2021.

Roberts told the Livingston Daily following the 2021 Olympics that watching long-time foe Hafizov compete in Tokyo motivated him heading into the 2024 Olympic year.

“Watching him compete in Tokyo, I was back here in Colorado watching on my couch,” Roberts said at the time. “It kind of lit a little fire in my belly. I wanted to be there. He earned the right to. I put it in my head that given the next opportunity, I’m earning the next one.”

Contact Bill Khan at Follow him on X @BillKhan



The 5 best NFL first-round picks in Iowa Hawkeye history since 2000


These Hawkeyes made a name for themselves in Iowa City before becoming icons at the next level.

By Jacob Harrison | Apr 15, 2024

New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages


The Iowa Hawkeyes have produced some incredible talents for the NFL over the years. Many of those players went overlooked and were drafted a bit later than maybe they should have been.


But that doesn't mean the Hawkeyes only produce hidden gems. Iowa has seen 26 players selected in the first round all-time. They'll look to add one more at the 2024 NFL Draft as Cooper DeJean projects to be selected on Day One.

Many of those 26 players have gone on to have fantastic careers, but a surge of great talents this side of the millennia has been particularly special. Half of those first-round picks have come since 2000 and nearly all of them have produced as advertised. A select few have been even better.

In ranking the five best Iowa first-rounders, we'll look at the contributions of the former Hawkeyes both as an individual and in helping bring team success.

No. 5 Chad Greenway

Linebacker Chad Greenway was the 17th-overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He spent his entire career in Minnesota and, from a national perspective, was a woefully underappreciated player throughout his nine-year career.

This is largely because the Vikings weren't very good for most of his career. The two Brett Favre years in Minnesota allowed for some team success, especially in 2009 when the Vikings reached the NFC Championship.

However, in six of his seasons in Minnesota, the Vikings posted a .500 record or worse.

This hampered his ability to garner much national recognition as he scored two Pro Bowls in his career. A lot of media attention instead went to the Vikings' impressive defensive line, led by Jared Allen.

For his career, Greenway posted 1,103 total tackles, 62 for a loss with 18 sacks. He also forced eight fumbles and recovered 11 of his own. Greenway also scored on two of his 11 career interceptions.

Off the field, Greenway was the recipient of the 2014 NFLPA Alan Page Community Award given annually to a player who goes above and beyond to perform community service in his hometown and team city.

No. 4 TJ Hockenson

When fans think of why Iowa is called TE-U, it's often because of George Kittle, but truthfully it has a lot to do with TJ Hockenson. Hockenson was selected No. 8 overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2019 NFL Draft. A few picks later at No. 20 TE Noah Fant was also selected out of Iowa.

Hockenson has lived up to the billing of a top-10 selection in the draft in his first five seasons. He's easily regarded as one of the top five players at his position in the league.

Still, team success has eluded Hockenson since joining the NFL. The Lions were terrible throughout his run in Detroit and he was shockingly traded to the division rival Minnesota Vikings during the 2022 season. Detroit has since surged into one of the best teams in the NFC while Minnesota has fallen from grace after a strong season in 2022 was thwarted in the Wild Card round.

Hockenson will move forward as one of the highest-paid tight ends in the league. Still, there's a giant question mark as to who will be throwing him the ball in 2024 and beyond. Nonetheless, despite the Vikings' disastrous season in 2023, Hockenson posted career highs in receptions with 95 and yards with 960.

For his career, Hockenson has caught 341 passes for 3,547 yards and 23 touchdowns. That has earned him two Pro Bowls early in his career, and he should earn a few more with time.

No. 3 Brandon Scherff

Brandon Scherff has long been one of the best guards in football since going No. 5 overall to the Washington Commanders in the 2015 NFL Draft. During the lead-up to that year's draft, there was talk that Scherff could be the No. 1 overall pick as a tackle.

But landing at guard may have been the best for him as he's carved out a strong career for himself.

Through nine seasons, Scherff has been named to five Pro Bowls, the most of any player on this list. He was also named First-Team All-Pro in 2020. Before the offensive guard market was turned on its head in the 2024 offseason, Scherff was one of the highest-paid players at his position.

Unfortunately, team success has not followed Scherff in the NFL. In five of his seven seasons with Washington, his teams finished with a losing record, and only made the playoffs in his rookie season. In two years with Jacksonville, he's since won his first playoff game, but the team took a step back in 2023 leaving a bold question mark moving forward.

Still, Scherff's contributions in both years in Jacksonville have shown that even at 33 years old, he's still got plenty in the tank. If he continues to play at a high level for a handful of years longer, he could find himself as a fringe Hall of Fame candidate based on his play alone.

No. 2 Tristian Wirfs

Tristian Wirfs instantly became one of the NFL's best right tackles once he was selected 13th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2020 NFL Draft.

With the Bucs signing plenty of weapons for Tom Brady, Wirfs was brought in to help keep the legend upright and he performed even better than what could reasonably be expected. Tampa Bay won Super Bowl LV with the rookie Wirfs leading the charge in the running game and pass protection.

In 2021, Pro Football Reference indicates by its Approximate Value score that Wirfs was the best player on the team for the Buccaneers. He was gifted the first of his three Pro Bowls to date and his first All-Pro selection as a result.

Wirfs hasn't even signed his second contract yet, but when he does it will most likely be the most expensive right tackle contract in the NFL. With such a strong start to his career, the best may be yet to come for this Hawkeye.

No. 1 Dallas Clark

As if there could be another selection. Dallas Clark was drafted 24th overall by the Indianapolis Colts in 2003 and quickly became one of Peyton Manning's favorite targets in an offense that was already stacked with weapons.

Clark played in the NFL Playoffs in each of his first eight seasons. Manning's neck injury in 2011 led to Clark's final season in Indy to be largely forgettable and his one-season stints in Tampa Bay and Baltimore weren't enough to get those teams into the postseason.

Still, Clark is likely a Hall of Famer one day. Despite just one Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection to his name, Clark was a star for the Colts' prolific offense that reached two Super Bowls, including the win over Chicago in Super Bowl XLI.

For his career, Clark caught 505 passes for 5,665 yards and 53 touchdowns.

While it took a decade and a half after his selection for Iowa to earn the distinction of TE-U, it all got started with Clark in 2003. His impressive career makes him easily the best first-round pick since 2000 for Iowa. All-time, likely only Alex Karras had a better career as a first-round Hawkeye in the NFL.


Five hidden Ohio State football NFL Draft gems since 2000


The Ohio State football team has had plenty of top-tier talent head to the NFL over the years. They've also had quite a few hidden gems. Here are some of the best.

By Ryan Stano | Apr 13, 2024

The Ohio State football program is judged on how many players they produce in the NFL year after year. Most of the players that are drafted are done so with high picks. There have been plenty of Buckeyes who have been really good players after being first-round picks.

Then there are some Buckeyes who weren't drafted as highly but have still been good players. Those hidden gems are guys that GMs love because they didn't have to use a lot of draft capital to get them. These guys just show up and do their job at a high level.

Since 2000, there have been five hidden gems that I want to highlight who were former Ohio State football players. None of these players were first-round picks but all of them had long and successful NFL careers. They were still really good players.

The first player had the longest career of anyone on this list.

5. Mike Nugent, K

Mike Nugent was about as automatic as it gets from a kicker standpoint. When he was with the Ohio State football team, it seemed like he was going to make every single kick. He was a member of Ohio State's 2002 national championship team that took down Miami.

Nugent was a very high draft pick for a kicker, being taken in the second round by the New York Jets in the 2005 NFL Draft. He was the highest kicker drafted in that year. He deserved it too. Nugent was a weapon for a long time in the NFL after that for multiple teams.

Nugent played for ten different teams in his NFL career that spanned 16 seasons. He played his last season for the Arizona Cardinals in 2020. It's rare to have an NFL career go that long, even for kickers. But that's a testament to how good Nugent was at his craft.

As far as hidden gems go, this is a good one. To have a 16-year NFL after being a second-round pick I'd say is pretty darn good. Nugent got to play in a lot of different cities and made a lot of money from different franchises. That's a pretty good living.

The next player on this list was a sixth-round pick but won multiple titles.


4. Nate Ebner

Nate Ebner hardly played for the Ohio State football team. He only played for two seasons with them because he was a rugby player. Yet, his speed is what attracted him to Urban Meyer once he walked on. He could run a 4.48 40-yard dash so that made him an extremely valuable gunner.

Ebner never really played as a cornerback, although he did record a sack for the Buckeyes. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He was one of the prototypical draft picks by Bill Belichick, who was always looking for certain traits.

While Ebner never really got to play on defense, he was an excellent special teams player for the Patriots. In fact, he was named Second-team All-Pro in 2016 as a special teams player. He was at the peak of his position as a specialist and made a good living that way.

Ebner won three Super Bowls with New England in his career, by far the most championships of anyone on this list. Quite frankly, he just contributed to winning football. That's what he did during his entire career, most of which was spent in New England.

Ebner finished his career with the New York Giants and finished playing in 2021. He ended up having a ten-year NFL career, all as a special teams player. That's a nice hidden gem if you ask me. The next player on this list is still playing at a solid level on defense.


3. Johnathan Hankins

The only defensive player on this list who actually started on defense, Johnathan Hankins has had a productive NFL career. He was a second-round draft pick back in the 2013 NFL Draft by the New York Giants. He spent the first four years of his career in New York.

Hankins is still playing at the age of 32 and just got signed by the Seattle Seahawks. He has played for five different NFL franchises so far. He has been able to add value everywhere he's been because of the space he's able to eat up in the middle as a nose tackle.

So far, he's played in 11 NFL seasons and this year will be his 12th. He doesn't show any signs of slowing down either. Hankins can still fill up the middle and make it tough for teams to run up the gut and he can still push the pocket around on quarterbacks too.

Hankins has made a lot of money in his career. As a second-round pick, it's impressive to see him still out there and being productive. He's one of those guys who just does everything right when he's on the team and is a veteran presence in the locker room.

The next player on this list was actually the highest-paid player at his position at one point after signing a massive contract extension.


2. Corey Linsley

As a fifth-round pick, Corey Linsley has had an excellent career. He was taken in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers and was the starting center for Aaron Rodgers and did quite well. It's impressive to be a starter as a fifth-round pick, especially for such an accomplished quarterback.

Linsley was named First-team All-Pro in 2020 in his final season playing for the Packers. He was also named to the Pro Bowl in 2021, as well as a Second-team All-Pro player. That was when he was signed by the Chargers in a contract that made him the highest-paid center in the league.

He signed a five-year $62.5 million contract to play for Los Angeles, something Green Bay was not willing to match. Linsley actually just agreed to restructure his contract a few weeks ago to give the Chargers a little more flexibility in free agency this season.

Linsley is still at the top of his game at 32 years of age. He's a very good player and will be for at least another three or four seasons. He can be relied on in both the run game and the pass game. Not only that, but he's an excellent leader for the rest of the offensive line.

Linsley is one of the best hidden gems since 2000 for the Ohio State football program. He's a solid player and a really good person. That's the best you can hope for from a fifth-round pick. The final person on this list was actually a third-round pick


1. Terry McLaurin

Terry McLaurin was even a hidden gem when he was a member of the Ohio State football team. He was just a three-star recruit coming out of Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. He turned himself into a really good receiver and a great special teams player for the Buckeyes.

McLaurin was a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft by the Washington Commanders. He has turned himself into the number one receiver on that team and has done a lot with horrible quarterback play over the course of his four full years in Washington.

McLaurin was named to the Pro Bowl in 2022 and could have more on his resume if he had some better QB play. He has had over 1,000 receiving yards in every season except for his rookie one. The best quarterback he's played with might have been Sam Howell, who is no longer there.

Washington is expected to draft a quarterback with the number-two pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Perhaps that can finally be the answer to that position. Whoever it is will probably be the best quarterback McLaurin has played with. He should only get better in his career now.

To be the best receiver on a team after being a third-round pick is a really nice achievement. As I mentioned, he should continue to get better. He's 28 years old so he's in the prime of his career. He's as good of a hidden gem as it gets.


Tuesday, April 16, 2024

NFL veteran Trey Flowers hosts mental health seminar at Alabama A&M


Trey Flowers started the Flowers of the Future foundation in 2019.


By Cam Derr

Published: Apr. 13, 2024 at 11:13 PM CDT


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - On Saturday afternoon, students and members of the community were encouraged to sit in on a seminar on the campus of Alabama A&M University discussing the importance of mental health, led by NFL veteran defensive-end and Huntsville native, Trey Flowers.

Flowers started his foundation, Flowers of the Future, back in 2019 with the mission to provide the tools for the overall betterment of youth. Saturday’s topic of discussion was all about significance of mental health.

“To walk away with just the tools to withstand and persevere through those hard times,” Flowers says. “You know the thing about life, ‘life be lifing’ as they say, so you have to have the tools, you got to be instilled with the type of mindset to just kind of handle those stressors and have the perspective on life to really enjoy life.”

This discussion was the first of its kind for Trey Flowers, but he plans to make the event annual.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Top 8 Biggest NFL Draft steals in Baltimore Ravens history


These players show how good the Ravens are at drafting

By Mike Luciano | Apr 14, 2024

Unlike most expansion franchises that came into being in the last few decades, the Baltimore Ravens have set themselves apart as an exceptional drafting team. Two Super Bowl teams and a host of contenders have been built on the back of wise decisions from both Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta.

The Ravens have landed some of the best players in franchise history with premium draft picks, but Baltimore has also become known for finding some gems later in the draft. Be it tremendous scouting or just plain old good luck, the Ravens have been the proving ground for some of the best in the game.

These players all stand out as the biggest eight steals in Ravens NFL Draft history. Baltimore only started drafting in 1996, and their list of steals far outnumbers teams with a few extra decades of experience. This solidifies Baltimore as one of the best drafters in the business without question.

8. P Sam Koch (No. 203 overall, 2006)

While it might be unfair to put a punter here, as they are so rarely picked before the end of Day 3, nabbing a high-end starter for 15 years with a pick often used on players who get cut after the preseason makes this a solid move. The former Nebraska star is the greatest punter in team history.

Koch averaged 45.3 yards per punt for a Ravens team that won a Super Bowl in 2012 and challenged for many others along the way. Jordan Stout will have quite a ways to go if he wants to break all of the records Koch managed to set during his very productive career with the Ravens.

7. OG Edwin Mulitalo (No. 129 overall, 1999)

The powerful guard from Arizona was added for some extra depth at the turn of the millenium, but it didn't take long for Mulitalo to work his way into the starting lineup. Mulitalo was the starting left guard for the 2000 Super Bowl winning team, and his career with the Ravens didn't stop there.

Mulitalo was a frequent starter in Baltimore until 2006, after which he joined the Lions for two more seasons. With 102 starts, a 2,000-yard rusher in Jamal Lewis that did a lot of his damage running behind him, and a championship ring, Mulitalo is still one of the best guards the Ravens ever had.

6. Matt Judon (No. 146 overall, 2016)

While it's hard to call a fifth-round pick risky, taking a pass rusher from Division II Grand Valley State certainly qualifies. Judon helped validate the Ravens' trust in his ability, as he spent the next few years as one of the team's more reliable starters before moving to the Patriots in free agency.

By the end of his Ravens career, Judon turned his fifth-round status into 34.5 sacks, multiple big plays in the postseason, and two Pro Bowl nods during his five years with Baltimore. Even with him thriving in New England, Judon put together a quality career in Baltimore.

5. Adalius Thomas (No. 186 overall, 2000)

Before Judon, the former Southern Miss star signed with the Patriots in 2007 after seven seasons with the Ravens. In that seven-year span, Thomas put up gaudy numbers as a productive pass rusher on some lethal Ravens defenses in the early 2000s.

Thomas recorded 38.5 sacks in seven years with the Ravens, capping his tenure off with an All-Pro season in which he amassed 83 tackles, 24 quarterback hits, and 11 sacks. While Thomas was solid in New England, the last two years of his Baltimore tenure were clearly the best two seasons of his career.

4. Mark Andrews (No. 86 overall, 2018)

Andrews had some doubters despite a fantastic career at Oklahoma. Due to how he was used, many wondered if his inability to become a high-end blocker would overshadow his amazing receiving skills. With Andrews heading into 2024 as a featured passing option yet again, it seems as though he's doing just fine.

Andrews is already third in Ravens history in receiving yards, and there's a chance that he could surpass Todd Heap and Derrick Mason atop their all-time list in the 2024 or 2025 seasons. Lamar Jackson's MVP seasons have both been made easier by Andrews' presence over the middle.

3. Marshal Yanda (No. 86 overall, 2007)

Pick No. 86 has been kind to Baltimore, as Yanda went from Iowa to a starting role with the Ravens almost immediately. By the end of his 13-year career, Yanda piled up so many accolades that some will wonder if he ends his football journey with a gold jacket and a bust in Canton.

Yanda has eight Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro teams (two First-Team) in his career, choosing to retire on top after another All-Pro year at age 35. Yanda started more games (166) than the combined number of NFL games played between the next four players picked after him (155).

2. Lamar Jackson (No. 32 overall, 2018)

Sometimes, a first-round pick can be a steal, especially when you're the fifth quarterback taken in your draft class. While major busts like Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen floundered with their teams, Jackson put together a six-year stretch that is among the best any quarterback in NFL history has ever had.

Jackson has two MVPs to his name and he's turned the Ravens into a perpetual contender. It was tough watching Jackson sit there as interior offensive linemen and strong safeties were picked ahead of him, but Baltimore had enough foresight to realize what he could be in the NFL.

1. Ray Lewis (No. 26 overall, 1996)

Likewise, if you manage to draft the greatest linebacker in NFL history after busts like Tim Biakabatuka, Rickey Dudley, and Alex Molden were picked above you, that counts as a steal. The Ravens pulled off one of the greatest drafts in NFL history in their first such affair, as they snagged Lewis and Hall of Fame tackle Jonathan Ogden with consecutive picks.

With 12 Pro Bowls, 10 All-Pro teams, two Defensive Player of the Year awards, and two Super Bowl rings, Lewis' career with the Ravens can't be equaled by any linebacker in NFL history. The Ravens' ethos as a defense-first franchise was due to Lewis setting the tone when he arrived in Baltimore.



Popular Posts