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107, 2015

Real Deep with Eric Mac Lain (Part II)

By |July 1st, 2015|Football, Real Deep, Sports|3 Comments

The Orange Bowl and other 2011 Events
Q: How was the adjustment from High School ball to College? Was it a struggle or was it ‘this isn’t so bad’?

A: So we got here a little later than they do now. We got here in early July. We started going to different things, and of course there’s no pads. It’s just the guys working out. I’ve always loved to work out. It was just a little different, a little faster pace, bigger guys to work out with obviously. We also did “Skills and Drills” which is player led 7 on 7s and other individual things that we go through so there’s no pads. I’m like “Oh yeah, oh yeah I got this. Same stuff I’ve been doing.” Then fall camp rolls around and they put me in. I’m supposed to block Andre Branch. I’m 6’5” and maybe 250, and this grown man of 6’6” 290 is in front of me. So they’re just like “Block him.” I’m like “What? I can’t do that?” It was definitely an experience of ‘Was I really ready for this?’ because I redshirted. Mentally you’re a young kid going up against grown men so it was hard to make the transition at first, it’s just different.

Q: What was the atmosphere in the season after going 6 and 7? Were there rumors that Swinney could be fired if another bad year happened?

A: When we came in that summer it was different. We had the guys in my class like Stephone Anthony, Grady Jarrett, Sammy Watkins, myself, Ryan Norton, Spencer Region. All these guys are ready to work and punish people, ready to start playing. Coming off a losing season it’s different. Thankfully I’ve […]

906, 2015

Reese Colburn Draft A+

By |June 9th, 2015|Football, South Carolina, Sports, State|2 Comments

*Images borrowed from Facebook
Roman and Jennifer Colburn’s Facebook pages are filled with the sheer delight that their son Reese Colburn experienced June 6th. Reese Colburn is not able to play football – normally. This past weekend, the ten year old was a player at Clemson’s youth football camp. There, he was surrounded by his peers who are youth football players, and for today he is one of them.

Reese has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome which is a serious birth defect. In layman’s terms, the left side of the heart is undeveloped. The right side has to take up the slack – pumping blood to the lungs and the body. For Reese, this meant having three open heart surgeries. The day he was born, he had to be flown to Boston without his mother in order to have the first surgery. Another surgery occurred at six months old and a ‘final’ one when he was two. HLHS was a death sentence in infancy until the early 1980s when the surgical process was developed. Reese survived his surgeries and is currently a happy ten year old.

Reese’s dream is to play football, but his pediatrician has to break his heart every six months and explain to him that playing football is not an option. “Some of the kids in his class started to play Pee Wee football and that, combined with not being able to fully participate in physical education, has really taken a toll on him” Roman told me. Reese can only play golf or baseball. It built to a point where he visited a child psychologist to help him work through his limitations.

Then Roman had a lightbulb moment about four months ago. Roman had played football at […]

1805, 2015

Real Deep: Eric Mac Lain (Part I)

By |May 18th, 2015|Football, Real Deep, Sports|3 Comments

Real Deep features people who want a deeper interview, who want to be known as a person. These interviews are open ended conversation that lets the interviewee and I develop a relationship and talk about various subjects both on and off topic. A wide variety of things are discussed and almost nothing is off limits, however not everything is on the record. Real Deep strives to let the subject communicate in an open way to the audience. Therefore, most of the words are the subject’s and not mine. This also means that the text is only edited for obscenities and readability, so not all grammatical rules are followed. The audience will gain a deeper insight into the man behind the lights as a result of reading Real Deep.

This week’s edition of Real Deep stars the man, the myth, the legend: Eric Mac Lain. Eric is a Clemson football player known for his stellar character and pride for Clemson. He is also the kind of man you would want your daughter to date. Eric Mac Lain is a genuine person who is the type of student athlete others should aspire to be. This part will discuss his early life, his recruiting, and his commitment to Clemson.

Q: What was your childhood like growing up?

A: I was actually born in Montgomery, Alabama. My father was in the Air Force, he got out and we moved to Tennessee. I lived near Knoxville for ten years and I was a huge Vol fan. Peyton Manning, all those guys. I grew up watching them and went to the games, all the good stuff. Then when the Towers fell my father got back in the Air Force, we moved […]

1205, 2015

Devin Funchess Pick Analysis

By |May 12th, 2015|Football, Sports|Comments Off on Devin Funchess Pick Analysis

Grade: B-

Devin Funchess is will be a wide receiver to pair up with Kelvin Benjamin in Carolina, and a nickname has already appeared: Twin Towers

Funchess moved around positions at Michigan, creating a mismatch for opponents.

Funchess can play all three wide receiver positions in the Panthers offense, and has a high football IQ. His pro day 40 time was 4.48 seconds up from a horrendous 4.70 at the combine.

Funchess is 6’4” and 232 pounds and uses his size well at the position.

Funchess has a good catch radius – albeit not as impressive as teammate Kelvin Benjamin.

Funchess has solid hands and he is a good blocker down the field, an underrated attribute for a receiver.

The Panthers can give opposing defensive coordinators nightmares with Benjamin and Funchess on the outside as two big targets. Then Greg Olsen would line up at tight end and either the second TE or speedy slot WR Ted Ginn could provide Cam with four solid receiving options every play.

The Panthers moved up 16 slots to select Funchess, and surrendered their second, third, and sixth round selections in order to do so.

Gettleman was afraid that Funchess would be selected – two wide receivers were selected in the eight second round picks before Carolina traded up.

Gettleman said that they counted six teams with WR needs before their pick, but no wide receivers were selected in the second round after Funchess.

Gettleman told the media after the first round that the Panthers were not interested in trading up.

The presence of Funchess whom the Panthers had a first round grade on and the draft board alignment probably persuaded Gettleman to trade up.

The price was steep and I was initially skeptical, but after looking at Funchess’ film and seeing […]

405, 2015

Free UAB – Football Civil War in AL – Part III

By |May 4th, 2015|Alabama, Football, Sports, State|1 Comment

Part III: Aftermath and Outlook
The student body took to the streets, and Free UAB began. Free UAB Student Organization (FUSO) was formed, with Timothy Alexander as the president. He was a motivational player. He never took the field but still invested blood, sweat, tears, and heart into UAB football. When the team was on the practice field grinding through drills he would be on the sidelines doing pushups and sit-ups, encouraging his teammates to keep pounding. He became the spokesman of Free UAB when he delivered a speech to the Birmingham City Council and received a standing ovation. He goes to different cities and states and discusses Free UAB. He shared similar sentiments to Henderson:
“We heard about it with two games left to go, but we thought if we kept winning we could save the program. We just didn’t know. Ray Watts never came to a football practice; he didn’t care about UAB football.”
Alexander also grieved over the impact it had on the players. He lamented:
Everything that you worked for is gone. We came to UAB for football. What do we hope for, what do we believe in? Football was our way out, it was our stress reliever. It was a gift from God. It was my passion. It was our way out of bad places and out of bad things. It was stripped from us.
Tensions in Alabama and on the campus are high. Ray Watts cannot travel around campus without an armed body guard to protect him. This is a college president on a college campus, not a war zone, not a prison. The administrative building is locked down, and one can only visit by appointment. The Faculty Senate issued […]

105, 2015

Panthers Pick Analysis – Shaq Thompson

By |May 1st, 2015|Football, Sports|Comments Off on Panthers Pick Analysis – Shaq Thompson

Round 1, 25th Pick Overall
Shaq Thompson LB/SS/RB (Washington)
Grade: B
The Panthers desperately needed a tackle but six tackles went off of the board including DJ Humphries one pick before. The Panthers decided to take Shaq Thompson, who won the Paul Hornung award for the most versatile player in 2014. He was a linebacker who played like a safety and played at multiple positions. According to Gettleman, “Bottom line is they were the two guys we were talking about. D.J. and Shaq, they were the two. When the Cardinals were on the clock we knew either way we were getting a really good football player. Both have big upside. We would not have been disappointed either way.”

Gettleman said about Shaq’s versatility, “It will allow us to keep three linebackers on the field…He was the highest rated player we had on our board left.” He played outside linebacker, inside linebacker, special teams gunner, running back, and a little bit of safety. Shaq lined up everywhere and will be a valuable chess piece for the excellent Sean McDermott, the Panthers Defensive Coordinator. Some Washington fans were surprised that Shaq went in the first round, and thought he was better fit for the second round. Panthers fans are mixed on the selection, because it ignored various levels of needs on the offensive line, the defensive backfield, and wide receiver. Shaq Thompson should at the least eliminate Roman Harper’s spot on the team and should succeed the older Thomas Davis when he decides to retire. This was better than selecting a wide receiver, reaching for a second level tackle, or another position at a lesser value. Gettleman has made some controversial selections but most of his picks have done well so […]

2704, 2015

Free UAB – Football Civil War in AL – Part II

By |April 27th, 2015|Alabama, Football, Sports, State|Comments Off on Free UAB – Football Civil War in AL – Part II

Part II: Additional Background and the Kill.
“He’s never come to a game or practice.
He’s never congratulated us on a win or even the season we had.
He showed no emotion at all.”
~ WR Henderson

Authors note: These recordings reveal that the coach search committee felt that Bill Clark had to save UAB football: http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2015/01/private_recordings_reveal_uab.html
We hired Bill Clark who was the head coach at Jacksonville State. He had two weeks to build a signing class, and the ice storms got in the way. He recruited a lot of JUCOs (junior college players) and put together a good class. We had a 6-6 season, attendance was up 130 percent, and there was more excitement surrounding UAB football than in the previous decade. There were ominous warning signs however. UAB only had a one year lease with the city of Birmingham and the crumbling Legion Field with no plans for an on campus stadium. There were no games scheduled for after 2016. Bill Clark had a three year contract instead of the typical five years given to a new head coach. Then there were the phone calls:

“I got a phone call in October warning me that UAB football would be shut down at the end of the season. I forgot about it and I didn’t give it much value. Two weeks later, I get a different person calling me stating the same thing and I was assured there was something to it. Then I got worried.” – Rep. Williams.

He had a meeting with Dr. Ray Watts (UAB President) and some other people. Watts assured them that no decision had been made or would be made until the strategic study was completed. Rep. Williams did not trust or give […]

1904, 2015

Free UAB – Football Civil War in AL – Part I

By |April 19th, 2015|Alabama, Football, Sports, State|Comments Off on Free UAB – Football Civil War in AL – Part I

Part I: Background
“There’s a lot going on behind closed doors that need(s) to be brought to light” . – WR Tristan Henderson
There is a unique and intense war in Birmingham Alabama that is uniting citizens like never before. The short of the story is that the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) lost its football team. But that would neglect the intense emotions, the years of suspicions, and the complexity that is contained in this tragedy.

In this article; corruption will be exposed, the truth will be brought to the light, and many emotions will swell up. When researching for this story, I felt anger at UA (Alabama). However, this is not a simple black and white battle of ‘good UAB’ vs ‘bad Alabama’. It is important to remember what Rep. Williams told me as you read this article; “This is not UAB vs. Alabama. My son graduated from Alabama, and one is an undergrad at Alabama. I go to Alabama football games and basketball games, and considering how the basketball team is that’s true fan hood. The Alabama Student Government supports an on campus stadium for UAB as well as UAB football. The Free UAB movement has tremendous support from Alabama fans, alumnus, and students.”

The following paragraphs in italics are a paraphrased timeline of events that State Representative Jack Williams described to me. These ultimately led to the destruction of UAB football:

Gene Bartow was a legendary basketball coach. We lured him from UCLA to be our basketball coach and athletic director. That shocked the world and it was just the beginning of our success. Under his guidance we started our sports programs. In Year Four of UAB basketball we went to the Elite Eight –the first team […]

1603, 2015

Ashley Judd is a Great Sport!

By |March 16th, 2015|Basketball, Entertainment, Kentucky, Sports, State|Comments Off on Ashley Judd is a Great Sport!

People do get excited over March Madness and perhaps none more than 75 year old Dick Vitale as he unexpectedly planted a kiss right on the lips of Ashley Judd.

 

The 46 year old Judd is an alumni of the University of Kentucky and just before the SEC championship game, she was surprised with the kiss, but instead of getting offended as people often do, she took it in stride, kissed Vitale back on the cheek:

And, she then made the following statement on Twitter, “I think both @DickieV & I are feeling the crazy joy of @marchmadness & the greatness of this KY team.

403, 2015

2015 NFL Draft Player Profile: QB Marcus Mariota

By |March 4th, 2015|Football, Sports|Comments Off on 2015 NFL Draft Player Profile: QB Marcus Mariota

From NFL Draft Lounge:

I watched three of Mariota’s worst games (Arizona, Michigan St, Ohio St), and I came away underwhelmed with his film.

He can run very well, but he takes too many hits and he could be injured by larger NFL defenders. He is a video game-type player juking out guys from behind the LOS, which will not work in the NFL. He is tough, a hard worker, and willing to take hits for the team (though he takes too many).

Mariota played behind a porous OL. His agility is incredible (a few steps below Vick and one step below Manziel and Newton) but it won’t be as deadly in the NFL. His throwing game on the run is incredible, he is very good at rollouts. He used lots of play action and quick throws at Oregon. Mariota can throw intermediate throws well, but will miss a few here and there. He has very good accuracy, but he can overthrow balls and get into strings of bad throws on occasion He is willing to take midrange shots, but doesn’t throw deep much (unless it’s wide open).

However, his arm strength is below average. Defenders can close in more on throws because he does not have a cannon or even a Bryce Petty arm. I think he has just enough arm to make it in the league, but not by much. His deep throwing game underwhelming because his arm isn’t good enough to make contested throws. He is a very good short range thrower, albeit with few misses. Has awful fumble concerns, and that will haunt him. His decision-making is usually very good, very few boneheaded throws (unlike Winston). He knows his limitations for the most part and works […]