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Archive for April, 2010

Golden rule: Always say thank you

April 23, 2010 1 comment

The Seattle Seahawks drafted Notre Dame WR Golden Tate with their second-round pick, No. 60 overall. The Nashville native and former John Paul II High School star had a monster junior season with 93 receptions for 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=Golden+Tate&iid=7355597″ src=”0/3/c/1/Home_Depot_ESPNU_b8f2.jpg?adImageId=12638150&imageId=7355597″ width=”234″ height=”317″ /]The Seahawks not only are getting a guy whom I believe will be a great player, but a character guy like few others.

Tennessean sports writer Bryan Mullen wrote a story about Tate that appeared in Thursday’s editions of the newspaper in advance of the beginning of the draft. What happened next floored Mullen, who has covered college athletics in Nashville for a handful of years.

“I was covering the Predators-Blackhawks playoff game and it was really loud,” Mullen said. “My phone rang and I didn’t recognize the number. I thought it was this weird number my wife sometimes calls me from from her work. I answered it kind of curtly and the first thing I heard was, ‘Bryan, this is Golden.’ I was stunned. He said he just read the story and wanted to say thanks. He said it brought back a lot of memories because I went back through his childhood.

“Keep in mind he called when the first-round selections were going on. He said, ‘You sound like you’re busy. I just wanted to say thank you.’ I remember thinking, ‘You’re probably a bit busier than me.’ ”

Ask any longtime sportswriter how often he has gotten a call like that.

“I’ve never received a call like that in 14 years as a sports writer,” Mullen said. “Those calls simply don’t happen. A few days earlier, I was the one thanking him, allowing me that kind of access in his home during one of the busiest weeks of his life. And there he was on the other line, thanking me. And it was genuine.”

Congrats, Seahawks. You got one who might be just as good off the field as he will be on it.

Categories: Uncategorized

DE or curveball for Titans?

April 21, 2010 2 comments

General managers play it cooler than the guy in the Dos Equis commercials leading up to the NFL Draft. It’s high-stakes poker, and they’re hoping they have no “tells.”

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=%22Pierre-Paul%22&iid=8146229″ src=”4/6/7/0/2010_NFL_Combine_ce74.jpg?adImageId=12603888&imageId=8146229″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]Everyone at the Titans practice facility for Tuesday’s news conference with GM Mike Reinfeldt and assorted scouts was asking about defensive ends. Nearly every mock draft you can find has the Titans taking one, be it South Florida’s Jason Pierre-Paul (at left, during the NFL Combine), Texas’ Sergio Kindle, Michigan’s Brandon Graham or Georgia Tech’s Derrick Morgan, if somehow he slips that far.

Reinfeldt and the scouts were happy to talk about the DEs. Yes, they like them all. Yes, “JPP” as one scout referred to Pierre-Paul, is a bit of a gamble because he has far less experience at the major-college level, playing for only one season after going to junior college. Yes, Graham appears to be more NFL ready. Yes, they’d like to find a player in the first round who can contribute quickly, maybe even make a major impact by season’s end.

The Titans may very well go the route everyone is thinking. Who could blame them after losing Kyle Vanden Bosch to free agency? Defensive end is clearly an area of need. But is there a chance the Titans pull a surprise?

I asked Reinfeldt if there’s a scenario in which the Titans go offense in the first round.

“You’d like to match the best player with some need,” Reinfeldt said. “If the best player is an offensive player you certainly have to put him into the decision-making process.”

The Titans’ other biggest need is a return man. They tied for 29th in the league in kickoff-return average and were 25th in punt-return average last season.

OK, so go with me on this. Titans running back Chris Johnson has done some posturing about a potential holdout. The Titans’ brass doesn’t believe he’ll do it, but the guy rushed for 2,000 yards last season and is scheduled to make only $565,000 this season, the third of a five-year contract signed as a rookie. At that price he’s the biggest bargain in the league.

So suppose Clemson RB C.J. Spiller is on the board at No. 16? Not only is he considered the best running back in this draft, but he’s the best kick returner in this draft, too. He finished his college career with seven kickoff returns for touchdowns, the most in NCAA history. He also returns punts.  He and Reggie Bush are the only players in college football history with 3,000 yards rushing, 1,500 yards in kickoff returns, 1,000 in receiving and 500 in punt returns.

Drafting Spiller would give the Titans a difference-maker in the return game and insurance in the event Johnson does, in fact, hold out. It would send a message to Johnson to get into camp in a hurry, and really, would it be so bad to have another weapon in the backfield?

Categories: Uncategorized

Ogilvy says g’day, Vandy will be OK

April 8, 2010 5 comments

So Vanderbilt center A.J. Ogilvy is done on West End, declaring for the NBA draft with one season of eligibility remaining.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=Ogilvy&iid=8282541″ src=”9/c/9/1/Vanderbilt_v_Murray_e291.jpg?adImageId=12240692&imageId=8282541″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]Is it goodbye or good riddance? The 6-11 Aussie stood the SEC on its ear as a freshman in 2007-08, averaging 17.0 ppg and 6.7 rpg. He scored 20 or more points 11 times that season, and the Commodores went 10-1 in those games.

But did he peak too soon? He scored 20 or more points only 12 times the rest of his career. Ogilvy’s scoring average dipped in each of his next two seasons, to 15.4 and then 13.4. His rebounding (6.2) and assist averages (0.9) reached all-time lows in his junior year. He had seven single-digit scoring games as a junior.

By the time he bid Vandy “g’day” Ogilvy had become a symbol of frustration. Ticketed as a lottery pick after that stellar first season, Commodores fans had begun to wonder whether he was worth even a lottery ticket after watching him average just 12.7 points over his final 15 games in the Black and Gold. He tallied two points in the SEC tournament loss to Mississippi State on 0-for-4 shooting and had 12 in the NCAA first-round loss to Murray State. Not exactly how you wanna go out.

You just never knew what you were going to get from the big man. At the top of his game there was brilliance. But there also were injuries and sometimes seemingly indifference. If there was one player you could point to when Vanderbilt lost this season it was Ogilvy. He averaged 9.4 points in the Commodores’ nine losses, 14.9 points in their 24 wins.

Still, the offense frequently revolved around him. He leaves as the school’s all-time leader in free throws made (471), a testament to the number of touches he got.

Perhaps it would be unfair to call that a detriment to the 2009-10 team. Few in the preseason believed this was a 24-win team, and certainly Ogilvy played a major role. But neither did this team live up to postseason expectations, and that’s when the center fell flat on his face.

Vanderbilt probably won’t be as good without him next season. But it won’t be as frustrated either.

Categories: Uncategorized