Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2011 Round 1 #18 San Diego Chargers DT Corey Liuget says-

Liuget belongs in the discussion with the other elite defensive tackles in this class. Arguably this year’s most productive DT against the run and also very active rushing the passer. Fires off the ball, maintains sound positioning, has hands that never stop moving, gets off blocks quickly, and closes on ball-carriers and quarterbacks with speed and power. Has the size and strength to move offensive lineman into the backfield. Also comfortable tackling in space and has the awareness to diagnose screens and draws and bat down balls at the line. Liuget has skyrocketed up draft boards this season and should be gone by the mid first.


NFL Draft 2010 – Round 2 #39- Tampa Bay(From Oakland)- WR Arrelious Benn

The Buccaneers trade up. writes- Benn is a big receiver with above average speed who can be equally effective catching the ball underneath and in traffic or on the deep seam routes. He has good ball skills as well as leaping ability, which allows him to go up and high-point his catches when in traffic. He will struggle to track and adjust to deep balls that are thrown off target. He is a little stiff in his hips and tends to telegraph his cuts to defenders but shows a good burst coming out of his break. He needs to refine his route-running and setting defenders up but has enough talent to be a threat as a team’s second receiver.


2010 NFL Draft to include record tying 53 non-seniors

The 2008 NFL Draft also saw the same amount of under classmen. In 2009 the total was 46. From AP-

The expected heavy influx of non-seniors applying for this year’s NFL draft did not happen despite looming labor unrest in the league.

Although a record-tying 53 players declared for early entry, that number released Tuesday by the NFL was short of most projections.

“I think that the colleges have really done a good job of telling these young men how it is to their advantage to stay in school,” said NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt, who helped build the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. “I thought there would be more and I was surprised.”

Six All-Americans did apply for the draft: defensive backs Eric Berry of Tennessee and Joe Haden of Florida; defensive end Derrick Morgan of Georgia Tech; tight end Aaron Hernandez of Florida; linebacker Rolando McClain of Alabama; and wide receiver Golden Tate of Notre Dame.

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, also declared for April’s draft, along with Mississippi quarterback Jevan Snead; Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen; Southern California running back Joe McKnight; Cal running back Jahvid Best; Florida defensive end Carlos Dunlap; and Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman.

Fresno State tailback Ryan Mathews, the nation’s leading rusher, applied. So did tackles Bryan Bulaga of Iowa and Anthony Davis of Rutgers, who are projected to go high in the draft.

I remember when Herschel Walker came out of school(U of Georgia) early and all the controversy it caused. A Herschel Walker today wouldn’t risk a potential big payday in the NFL either.

What I don’t get is how some experts expected the total of non-seniors to be around 100 or a 100% increase from last year. Maybe I’ll find an article that list the college players who stuck it out. A free college education should be valued. One day your sports playing days will end and what will you do for money then? Look at Bernie Kosar who left the University of Miami early for the NFL. Right now he is bankruptcy court.

The entire list of college underclassman declaring for this year’s NFL draft is below the fold.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 1 #25- Miami Dolphins- DB Vontae Davis

Miami definitely is in need of help at Defensive back.

ESPN writes- Davis is the best pure cover corner in his class. He’s fluid changing directions, shows great burst coming out of his cuts and is fast enough to run with wideouts downfield. Davis is more than a one-dimensional player, too. He’s a playmaker and can defend the run when he puts his mind to it. So why didn’t he come off the board earlier? There are questions about his work ethic and teams were likely wondering if he would to play to his ability.

An underacheiver then. It will be interesting if this pick works out for Miami. Other high DB picks(Jason Allen and Jamar Fletcher) in recent Dolphin draft history haven’t worked out too well.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 1 #23 – Pittsburgh Steelers – RB Rashard Mendenhall

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Steelers took approximately two seconds to grab Rashard Mendenhall, easily the best player left on the board, after the Cowboys stupidly passed on him for Felix Jones.

Scouts, Inc.: 7th

Strengths: Thickly and powerfully built back. Possesses adequate height, a strong lower body and enormous arms. Runs with adequate pad-level and will generate lots of yards after initial contact. Drives his legs and always seems to be falling forward. Vision and patience are adequate to good. Shows above-average initial quickness and outstanding burst when bouncing runs outside. Very few backs his size share such a noticeable second-gear (see: 2008 Rose Bowl vs. USC). He is a reliable pass-catcher with a good feel for getting open underneath. Can pluck the ball on the run and is dangerous in the open field with a head of steam. Is more than willing in pass pro and possesses the size/strength to anchor versus blitzing linebackers. Does not have a lot of wear on his tires and his best football should be ahead of him.

Weaknesses: Not overly elusive and won’t generate many yards by making defenders miss in space. Had some fumbling issues earlier in his career. Only one season as fulltime load carrier at collegiate level. Will need some time to adjust to blitz pickup in NFL. Awareness in that regard is only decent. While he has been a productive receiver, he needs to do a better job of catching with his hands rather than allowing it to frequently get into his body. Off-season conditioning has never been his strength. Doesn’t have much room left on frame to add bulk, so he will need to guard against adding unnecessary weight.

Overall: After graduating high school early and arriving on campus in the spring of 2005, Mendenhall contributed immediately as a true freshman. In 10 games, he ran for 218 yards on 48 carries and had 13 receptions for 82 yards and two touchdowns. In 2006, he ran for 640 yards and five TDs on a Big Ten-best 8.2 yards per carry, adding another 164 yards and a score on 12 receptions. As a junior, Mendenhall delivered 1,999 total yards and 19 TDs in 13 games. He led the conference and ranked eighth in the nation in rushing yards (1,681). Mendenhall peaked as a junior, which was his first season as a fulltime starter at Illinois. While he still can improve as a football player, there are no glaring weaknesses to his game. Mendenhall is a powerful runner with the burst to hit the occasional homerun. He also is more than capable in the passing game  both as a receiver and blocker. With good coaching and attention to detail, Mendenhall has a chance to rank among the upper-echelon starters in the NFL a couple years from now. Mendenhall is worth a mid-to-late first round pick and he should be the second or third running back selected in April’s draft.

Rick Gosselin: 10th

Mel Kiper: 10th

Authoritative runner with a major league burst through the hole. Mendenhall’s hard-charging style makes him difficult to get to the ground.

Great pick. The Steelers continue to be the best value drafters in the league. They probably didn’t need a running back here. But how do you pass up top 10 talent at the 23 spot?


Upset Saturday in College Football

It was a bizarre weekend in college football, with eight ranked teams losing to teams ranked below them — seven to teams not ranked at all.

    #3 Oklahoma lost to unranked Colorado, 24-27.
    #4 Florida lost to unranked Auburn, 17-20.
    #5 West Virginia lost to #18 South Florida, 13-21 (Thursday night).
    #7 Texas lost to unranked Kansas State, 21-41
    #10 Rutgers lost to unranked Maryland, 24-34
    #13 Clemson lost to unranked Georgia Tech, 3-13
    #21 Penn State lost to unranked Illinois, 20-27
    #22 Alabama lost to unranked Florida State, 14- 21

This was on top of several other close finishes.

ESPN’s Pat Forde dubs it “Insanity Saturday” and observes that this throws the whole season out of whack.

Just that fast, the college football landscape shifted seismically beneath our feet.

Just that fast, the Red River Shootout game Saturday between Oklahoma and Texas was dropped to undercard status. For the first time in years, it’s not the marquee game in the Big 12. And for the first time in years, the league’s maligned North looks more compelling than the South. If you can believe it, the biggest game in that league next week might be unbeaten Kansas at 3-1 Kansas State — either that or 4-1 Nebraska at unbeaten Missouri.

Just that fast, the upcoming LSU-Florida showdown Saturday in Baton Rouge lost half its helium when the Gators were shocked in The Swamp by an Auburn team that had lost at home to South Florida and Mississippi State on consecutive weekends.

Just that fast, the three Big East teams that began the season in the Top 25 all have at least one loss. Louisville went down first, then West Virginia, now Rutgers. Suddenly South Florida, Connecticut and Cincinnati are the unbeaten teams in the Big East. Honk if you foresaw that in August.

Just that fast, Illinois is 4-1 and tied for first in the Big Ten at 2-0. That’s the same Illinois that went 2-10 last year, with only one victory over I-A competition.

Just that fast, we have an ACC plot twist that leaves Virginia and Boston College well out in front in their respective divisions at 3-0 in league play. Virginia was left for dead after a Week 1 blowout loss to Wyoming. Boston College was picked last in its division by at least one preseason magazine.

And just that fast, USC and LSU put that much more distance between themselves and what’s left of the pack.

The object lesson here is that no favorite is safe. Not at home, not on the road, not in league play, not out of league play. If those lessons hadn’t already been learned by Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32, and Syracuse 38, Louisville 35, they were reinforced on Insanity Saturday.

And no lead is safe. You’d think the Sooners getting up 24-7 would be enough to make Colorado quit. You’d be wrong. The Buffaloes scored the final 20 points, winning on the last play of the game — a 45-yard field goal by Kevin Eberhart.


Underdogs aren’t scared right now, by much of anyone. Players and coaches are shrugging off past history, blowing off bad losses, not worrying about falling behind and regrouping to pull upsets nobody saw coming. Nobody’s rolling over.

I’ve seen this sort of thing in college basketball before but never to this extent in football. The bottom line, though, is that Notre Dame and Alabama and Michigan no longer have an automatic recruiting advantage over South Florida and West Virginia and Georgia Tech. There’s a wealth of talent out there and plenty of television exposure to be had in the realigned conference structure. Players would rather go to a program with less prestige and start than sit on the bench and one of the Big Boys.


Dallas Cowboys Draft CB Alan Ball

Alan Ball Dallas Cowboys Photo NFL Draft Logo 2007 The Dallas Cowboys have selected Illinois cornerback Alan Ball with their final pick of the 2007 NFL Draft (27th in round, 237 overall). The pick came at 5:21 Eastern.

Considering that “Mr. Irrelevant” gets picked at 255, he might not want get his hopes up.


State senator questions University of Illinois mascot ruling

Someone doesn’t like the retiring of the University of Illinois team masocot.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – A state senator asked Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan to determine whether the University of Illinois board of trustees broke any laws when it retired the Chief Illiniwek mascot last month.

Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, asked in particular Friday whether the board violated the Open Meetings Act by doing away with the 81-year-old American Indian mascot Feb. 16 without a vote.

“The real issue here is did the board of trustees operate in a legal and trustworthy manner,” Brady said in a news release.

Madigan spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said the attorney general’s office had received the request and will review it.

When the decision to retire Chief Illiniwek was announced, board chairman Lawrence Eppley said no vote was required but that the board had reached a consensus. Since then, at least one board member said he did not support the decision.

You’d think with Governors’ family members getting expensive birthday presents or State Secretary of States selling driver’s licenses, or other forms or rampant corruption around, Illinois politicians would have better uses for their time. Then maybe I’m the strange one. Let me know what you think.


Will the University of Minnesota drop out of the Big 10?

If AD Joel Maturi takes the stance in this news to its proper conclusion, the University will leave that conference.

Grand Forks, N.D. The University of Minnesota’s athletic director said the school has not strictly enforced a 2003 policy that discourages games with teams using American Indian nicknames and mascots. But that’s about to change, according to Joel Maturi, university athletic director.

Maturi said his school won’t compete against the University of North Dakota in any sport except men’s and women’s hockey because of UND’s Fighting Sioux nickname.

Maturi said the policy won’t affect other schools in the University of Minnesota system, such as Crookston and Duluth.

North Dakota Athletic Director Tom Buning said Minnesota’s decision won’t affect the school’s Division One plans, adding that it is unfortunate that student athletes won’t get the chance to play Minnesota.

Jim Antes is a member of UND Intercollegiate Athletic Committee who said the Fighting Sioux nickname may be — in his words — “closing doors.”

UND and Minnesota are in the same hockey league. But the schools have not played each other in men’s basketball since 1983 and have played just one women’s basketball exhibition game since 1985.

Mr. Maturi is being very selective. Another Big 10 conference school The University of Illinois’ teams are called the fighting Illini. The Illini are also an Indian tribe. If Minesota is dropping North Dakota for the reason they’re stating, they should leave the Big 10 also. Let them be consistent up there in Minnesota.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.