Sunday, September 14, 2014

College FB '14 Dread News - Week 2

As you may remember, the 2013 season ended with a TD catch by WR Kelvin Benjamin to give Florida State a BCS title game victory over Auburn. The same Kelvin Benjamin scored his 1st NFL TD last Sunday, helping the Carolina Panthers pick up a road victory over the offensively challenged Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the same field 24 hours earlier Tampa Bay's offensively challenged college team - the South Florida Bulls - put on their typical display of futility, costing them their chance to get off to a 2-0 start. While pretty much ignoring the marquee matchups involving Big 10 teams Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan, the game I spent the most time watching last Saturday had Big 10 newbie Maryland doing almost everything possible to give away the game to South Florida - and the Bulls absolutely refusing to accept the gift. Despite turning the ball over 6 times, the Terrapins escaped with a 24-17 victory that no doubt had fans of both teams cringing throughout the afternoon.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

You really wanna go there?

..... That was the question I put to my crystal ball (CB) a couple of days ago immediately after finding out who it was predicting to win Super Bowl 49 at the conclusion of the 2014 NFL season. I continued: "You do know that the last 9 teams that won the Super Bowl failed to win it again the following year, don't you?" To which CB replied: "L.O.B." Well, I guess that settles it then. The Seattle Seahawks, who took 38 years to win their first championship in franchise history, will need only 12 months to win their second. If CB is correct , it'll be Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch (photo) and friends raising the Lombardi Trophy - and doing it on the home field of their NFC West rival Arizona Cardinals - when the season ends in February.

As for who the Seahawks will defeat in the Super Bowl, again - more emphatically this time - I asked CB, "You really want to go THERE!?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

DG155

Until now my only coverage of the 2013 NFL season was of the final week of the regular season and the playoffs - and that brief post I did when Cardinals rookie Andre Ellington lost some of his dreads while he was tackled. So in dread gallery #155, let's take a look at some of what happened in the first 16 weeks of the season. Obviously one DG doesn't do justice to the NFL. I mean, I checked maybe 5% of all of the NFL photos available on the internet yet still saved enough to do several dread galleries. Picking the best of the best of that 5% for DG155, there were more than 150 photos I wanted to post; but I have cut that down to about 100.

This review of the 2013 season won't be as complete as last year's review of the 2012 season (in DG149) because I still haven't gone over the defensive stats in all the games (and I'm not going to either); so I don't have the whole list of the dread stars and head dreads from each week. Also, I'm going to try to wrap this up in record time, so I'm not going to check the game situations for most of the photos. Also, I have to apologize to all the O-linemen in the league with sick dreads, because there won't be any photos of you. Sorry about that. Anyway, let's begin DG155 with some of last season's interceptions.

PICKS

1. Falcons rookie CB Desmond Trufant intercepts a pass intended for WR Pierre Garcon at the Washington 39-yard line with 5:38 remaining in the game in Week 15, setting up a FG. It was the 2nd and last INT of the season for Trufant. A lot went wrong for the Falcons during their 4-12 season, but Trufant wasn't one of them. Drafted in the 1st round, he started all 16 games, finishing with 70 tackles, 2 INT, 15 PBU, 1 FF, and 1 FR.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Boom Mode

Bidding for its 3rd correct prediction of the Super Bowl winner in 6 tries, my crystal ball (CB, for short) advised you last September to put your money on the Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl following the 2013 NFL season. And for the longest time last season it looked like CB was going to be right. But as we all know, it didn't happen, thanks to that team from the Northwest. After Super Bowl 48 was over, all the confetti was falling on the Seattle Seahawks, celebrating their no-doubt-about-it 43-8 drubbing of the Broncos.

Marshawn Lynch, as usual, was in Beast Mode for the Seahawks' offense in 2013; and the Seattle defense was definitely in Boom Mode - as in the Legion of Boom, the nickname given to group of players in the team's all-star secondary. Richard Sherman repeated as a 1st team all-Pro. Earl Thomas three-peated as a 1st team all-Pro. Kam Chancellor, a 232-pound safety no receiver wants to get hit by (just ask the Broncos) earned a 2nd team nod on the all-Pro team. And when the 4th member of the legion, Brandon Browner, was suspended (controversially) late in the season, Byron Maxwell took his place and played just as effectively (if not as physically). It was a secondary that allowed the fewest yards passing and had the most interceptions in the league. 

CB actually got it right that the Seahawks would finish the regular season with the best record in the NFC, but it got little else right in yet another year mostly clueless predicting.

Friday, August 29, 2014

DG45 - Revisited

Back in the early days of the house of dread - back when it took me 2 hours to do a dread gallery instead of 2 weeks, and back when Yardbarker was a popular way for pro athletes to interact with fans (before Twitter came along and became a far more popular way) - I ventured into the world of college football recruiting (which is practically a sport all by itself) when I posted DG45 a month or so after National Signing Day (Feb. 4) in 2009. I quickly checked the websites of a few newspapers along with internet coverage of the Under Armour All-America game trying to find as many photos as I could of high school players with dreads that had just chosen the college teams they were going to be playing for. I had no idea how much (if any) interest there would be. It was the first DG I did that didn't feature action photos. As it turned out - and much to my amazement - DG45 became the most popular DG I did.

Five years have passed since then, and the 51 players I featured have now finished their college careers. So I thought it would be a good time to see how they - and their dreads - are doing after all this time. While I knew back then that several of the players were expected to be stars, most of them I had never heard of before and had no clue how they would perform. As it turned out, 11 of them have already made it to the NFL (one of those has already been cut), and another 5 are rookies currently in NFL training camps. Several had very good college careers, while several others didn't finish at the same schools they started. Some are ex-dreads (of course). One was shot after finishing his career.

So, with all the details and updates - and without any further delay - here once again is dread gallery #45 - five years later.

1. Wearing a hat like that, there's only one school that Trent Richardson could be signing with - and it ain't Auburn!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

DG154

Concluding our look at action from College Basketball '14, dread gallery #154 focuses mostly on the teams with more than one player with dreads - specifically, Nebraska, Lamar, VCU, and Louisiana Tech - and on a player who had no choice but to excel in basketball from the day his parents named him ...... Jordair.

1. Jordair Jett, 6-1, 215-pound senior G for Saint Louis U, has his eyes on the rim while driving between F Ryan Rhoomes (#30) and G Mandell Thomas of Fordham during 1st half on Jan. 18. Jett had a better game than his season averages, finishing with 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists as Saint Louis improved to 17-2 with a 70-48 home victory.

Monday, August 18, 2014

DG153

Dreads on teams in the Pac-12, SEC, and MAC, as well as four of the starters on my dread all-America team are the feature attractions in dread gallery #153, the second of three DGs covering the 2013-14 season in college basketball.
We'll begin with the MAC. There were 4 players with dreads on teams in the MAC this season, and two of them earned all-conference honors .....

1. One of the two, 6-9 Ohio junior F Maurice N'dour puts up a shot against G Jaryd Eustace of Miami (Ohio) during a game on Feb. 8. N'dour, a native of Senegal, had 14 points and 8 rebounds as Ohio picked up an 82-75 home victory.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

DG152

Football season is knocking at the door; but in the house of dread it's still basketball season - and it will continue to be for as long as it takes me to finish these next three dread galleries. That won't be long, though, because in an attempt to save time I'm trying something different: I'm only going to post the photos; it'll be up to you to figure out who everybody is!

Seriously though, as we take a look at the recently (?) concluded 2013-14 College Basketball season in DG152, DG153, and DG154, for most of the photos I just didn't take the time to research the exact points of the game when the photos were taken; so I guess you'll have to use your imagination. Although I'm doing only half as many dread galleries as last season, I will have at least one photo of every player with dreads in Division 1 that I know of; and I'll be including this season's stats for most of them. (If I don't list a player's stats, it means they were already listed in the dread news report I did three weeks ago.)

Let's begin dread gallery #152 in the Big 12.

1. D.J. Johnson, a 6-9, 250-pound sophomore F for Kansas State, grabs a rebound against G Jeff Mullahey of Troy during 2nd half on Dec. 15. Johnson had 7 rebounds and 3 points in 18 minutes as the Wildcats rolled to a 72-43 home win over Troy, part of their 7-0 December.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

DG151 - Part 1

From the moment he first put on a South Carolina uniform in September 2011 and started living up to the huge amount of hype he received in high school, it quickly became obvious that Jadeveon Clowney was going to be the 1st pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. And so it indeed came to pass, finally becoming official on the evening of May 8, 2014. Even after his overanalyzed, overcriticized, disappointing, injury-plagued junior season with the Gamecocks, the Houston Texans decided he was worth taking with their 1st overall selection in the draft. And with good reason. In today's pass-happy NFL, having a good defense begins with having a great pass rusher. And that's Clowney's specialty. He has the potential to be one of the best pass rushers the league has ever seen. The Texans are counting on it, while all the rest of the teams in the AFC are hoping he never reaches that potential.

Clowney's selection at #1 marks the first time a player with dreads has been the first player selected in the NFL Draft (it was bound to happen sooner or later). Previously the highest anybody with dreads had been selected was 3rd overall, which happened three times - Larry Fitzgerald in 2004, Tyson Jackson in 2009, and Trent Richardson in 2012. In addition to Clowney there were 27 other players with dreads drafted, including six selected in the 1st round (photo below) - five of whom were on hand in person to take that walk across the stage and be greeted by Commissioner Goodell. In dread gallery #151 we'll look at all the rookies with dreads currently in training camp hoping to be on their teams' rosters on opening day.

DG151 - Part 2

And now, the second half of dread gallery #151, featuring rookies on teams in the two South divisions as well as the AFC West.

We finished part 1 with a look at Brandon Dixon, so we'll begin part 2 with his twin brother, Brian Dixon.

1. He was not drafted, as was his brother, but CB Brian Dixon faces the same difficult task of trying to win a roster spot - although not with the same team as his brother - after signing with the New Orleans Saints, here participating in his first practice on May 16.

Monday, July 21, 2014

College BB '14 Dread News

Well, they weren't exactly the kind of dreads I had in mind; but technically, yes, they were dreads. And so, the drought is finally over. It seems like every year when I do this report I end up lamenting that there has never been a player with dreads in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament; but there has been one now. Of course, if you were one of the thousands of fans at AT&T Stadium with seats so far away from the court that all the players looked like ants, or even if you were watching at home and don't have a HD television, then it was very difficult to notice the beginner dreads on the head of Kentucky freshman F James Young. In case you never did notice, you are looking at the proof - one of the dozens of photos taken of Young during the championship game on Apr. 7.

With teams like Colorado, Saint Louis, VCU, Memphis, and Nebraska - teams with players whose dreads are much easier to notice - all not making it past the first weekend of the tournament, I figured the drought would continue for yet another year. But then I saw Young during Kentucky's 3rd round game against Wichita State.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

College FB '13 House Calls

There were 9 teams in Division 1 that had 20 or more of their touchdowns scored by players with dreads during the 2013 season; but only two of them had 30 or more. And those two just happened to be on opposing sidelines in the final game of the season. Florida State was victorious over Auburn 34-31 in the BCS title game back in January; but it was the Tigers edging the Seminoles in the competition for the most TD by players with dreads - and almost by the exact same score as the game, with Auburn's 33 TD finishing two better than FSU's final total.

Thanks mostly to Tre Mason (scoring the last of the 33 TD on a 37-yard run with 1:19 remaining in the title game in photo above), the crown for the team with the most TD scored by players with dreads remains in the state of Alabama for the 3rd consecutive season, with Auburn following 1st place finishes by Alabama State (34 TD) in 2012 and Alabama (35 TD) in 2011.