Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
The Detroit Public School League’s (PSL) Martin Luther King Jr. High Crusaders saw two of its favorite sons drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft. Nick Perry, PSL Class of 2008, and Chris Greenwood, Class of 2009, are now joined together as the PSL’s 2012 NFL draftees.
Defensive end/linebacker Perry was taken with the 28th pick by one of the NFL’s preeminent teams, the tradition filled Green Bay Packers, following a stellar career at the University of Southern California (USC) where he earned 2011 All-Pac-12 first team pick and was a finalist for the Hendricks Award. He declared for the NFL Draft following his junior season.
Greenwood, a cornerback, was drafted by his hometown Detroit Lions in the fifth round (138th overall). The former Crusader was a three-time All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) first team pick, American Football Coaches Association Division III All-American and the MIAA Defensive Players of the Year after leading Albion College to a berth in the NCAA Division II Championships.
After a crazy good scouting combine where all left calling Perry “a tremendous physical specimen,” at 6-foot-3 and 271 pounds, he then went out and ran the 40-yard dash in the 4.5’s — almost unheard of for a player that size — had a 38½-inch vertical leap and put up 35 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press.
The Packers went 15-1 last season and lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl-winning New York Giants. No matter the Packers record, its defense took a step back from its 2011 Super Bowl winning team. Green Bay is banking on Perry, who finished with 21.5 sacks for the Trojans, including 9.5 last season which led the Pac-12. He also led the Trojans in 2011 with 13 tackles for loss.
“I am elated to be going to a franchise that has the tradition the Packers have,” Perry said. “This is a winning organization and I know I have to come in here and give everything I’ve got, because these fans don’t deserve anything less than my best.”
Perry and Greenwood are firmly etched in PSL lore after leading King to a Michigan State championship in 2007 — the first in PSL history (Cass Tech has since matched King in 2011).
Greenwood also set the NFL scouts on fire with his showing at Michigan’s pro day. The 6-foot-1, 193 pounder smoked the track in a 4.42-seconds over the 40-yard dash and produced a vertical jump of 43 inches. He became the second Division III football player selected in the past three drafts.
To Greenwood’s credit he played in the East-West Shrine Game in January, one of the top senior all-star games.
“It was fun to get out and play football with a high level of competition,” he said. “Everybody has a lot of talent at this level so a lot of time was spent on techniques because excelling at the little stuff helps you get further. I was ready to soak up whatever the coaches had to teach me.”
Packers General Manager Ted Thompson said of Perry: “He’s got that special kind of juice. We’re looking forward to getting him with (outside linebackers coach) Kevin (Greene) and (defensive coordinator) Dom (Capers). He’ll jump in with our guys and compete with our guys and we’ll see how he stacks up.”
Said Capers: “We think he (Perry) can certainly fit into our nickel scheme, being an edge rusher there. Maybe we can move him around a little bit. You’ve seen how much we move Clay (Matthews) around. He has explosion in his body and I don’t think the power and the physical part of it will be any problem for him.”
About Greenwood Lions coach Jim Schwartz said: “He’s a size-speed corner. He runs real fast. When I first saw him, down at the East-West game, and you see right away that he has physical attributes, he can run quick, he’s got great length. That was a big step up in competition for him but we stayed with him through the process, because he didn’t look out of place. We’ve got a good feel for him and think he is a good developmental corner.”
Perry and Greenwood both are elated to have been drafted, but they are really to put in the work to achieve at the NFL level.
Said Perry: “I think I have the raw set of skills and the mind to do it. I think I have a lot to bring to the table.”
Said Greenwood: “I’m living a dream. I know I have what it takes to play in the NFL. I can make plays. I’m glad the Lions have given me the opportunity to show everyone I can play at this level.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 13:01
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
Jerel Worthy (2nd round), Kirk Cousins (4th), Keshawn Martin (4th), Trenton Robinson (6th), B.J. Cunningham (6th) and Edwin Baker (7th) gave the Michigan State Spartans seven drafted players in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Spartans under Coach Mark Dantonio have firmly established themselves as a preeminent college football program, as evidenced by the number of East Lansing men drafted.
The Green Bay Packers drafted noise guard Worthy, hoping that he can help the defense get back to a competitive level. In spite of a 15-1 regular season record, the Packers’ defense was less than stellar.
“To be drafted to a franchise like Green Bay is unbelievable,” Worthy said. “I know from jump they will be competing for a Super Bowl title. That is the expectation for this team. I will have to come ready and prepared to make this pick worthy of the selection.”
Cousins, who led Michigan State to back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time in school history, was taken 102nd overall in the fourth round. He was the second quarterback selected by the Redskins. They also drafted Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.
“I hadn’t talked to them in the process at great length and didn’t know they were interested, but when I saw a Virginia number on my cell phone, I knew it was a possibility,” Cousins said during a teleconference. “When I answered, Coach (Mike) Shanahan told me, ‘I can’t pass you up and have to pick you.’
“It’s a unique situation with Washington picking Robert No. 2 overall, and I didn’t expect it, but Coach Shanahan knows quarterbacks. He worked with Steve Young and John Elway.”
Martin, drafted by the Houston Texans in the fourth round (121st overall), feels he has a lot to offer. He scored touchdowns five different ways during his career with the Spartans.
“I’m a fast, quick receiver that can also return punts and kickoffs,” Martin said. “I’m a good fit for the Houston Texans.”
San Francisco took Robinson in the sixth round, 180th overall.
“I had actually talked to them a couple of days before the draft,” Robinson said. “They said they liked me and they were definitely going to be drafting a safety. My dream is here, and all I have to do to get where I want to be is work hard.”
Miami selected Cunningham in the sixth round, 183rd overall.
“I am ready to put in the work,” he said. “This is an opportunity that I plan to take advantage of.”
My man Baker, taken by the Chargers in the seventh round, 250th overall, had a rough 2011 season after a noteworthy 2010 season. He has the speed and the strength to surprise Chargers fans. The good thing for him is the that the Chargers did not draft any other running back in the seven rounds, so he has a real chance to make this team
Three members of the 2011 Wayne State University national finalist football team have started their professional careers by signing free agent contracts. Troy Burrell signed with the Detroit Lions, Jeremy Jones inked a deal with the Chicago Bears and Joe Long earned a contract from the St. Louis Rams.
Wide receiver Burrell recorded 12 100-yard receiving games and set the WSU career mark for receptions (187), while finishing second in career receiving yards (3,132) and touchdowns (27). Burrell is fifth in average yards per reception at 16.75 yards per catch, eighth in career touchdowns (28), ninth in all-purpose yards (3,299) and 10th in scoring (168 points).
Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 12:56
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
The Anthony Jones Jr. story is yet another in urban America where a young African-American male burst through adversity with the strong guidance of mother and other immediate family.
“Anthony’s father was murdered in a robbery just before he was born, so he never got to meet him,” explained Anthony Jr.’s mother, Temeko Manica. “I was looking, searching for something to get his attention. I was coaching at Highland Park and one day Anthony Jr. and I walked by the wrestling room and coach Leonard Logan stopped us and asked us to come on in, Anthony was only 7 at the time.
“We were not really into wrestling so I was like, ‘Well okay, but . . .’ Logan told us to give him two weeks of effort, and, those two weeks have turned into high school and college wrestling.
“Based on our humble beginnings Anthony has exceeded beyond my hopes for expectations. With a giant void left in his life with the loss of his father, those wrestling coaches (Logan, Glen and James Pollard II), starting in the AAU, helped me instill valued morals, discipline and a solid work ethic in him.”
Said Anthony in a phone interview from Sofia, Bulgaria: “I was kind of tricked into wrestling, but once I got into it fell in love with the sport. It gave me a clear direction and identity. I liked that. I was a skinny kid and over the years my body changed and I was like, ‘cool.’”
The former Highland Park star was named Michigan State University’s Outstanding Wrestler and shared the Collins-Mikles Leadership Award for the 2011-12 grappling campaign at its recent awards banquet. The award was an affirmation of Temeko and Anthony’s declaration about his early foundation and its impact on his future direction.
As a senior at 157 pounds, he recently concluded his most consistent season for the Spartans, earning a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Championships after finishing fourth at the Big Ten Championships. Jones finished with a 22-10 record and went 1-2 at the NCAA Championships.
MSU coach Tom Minkel said Anthony got a very unfavorable draw in the NCAA Nationals.
“He ran into some guys that were a couple of the best guys in the weight class and lost to both of them,” Minkel recalled. “Both were very close matches.”
Anthony started off his 2012 NCAAs with a 5-2 win over Albert White of Oklahoma State before falling to familiar foe Dylan Alton of Penn State, 2-1, with riding time being the deciding point.
“Anthony was one of our quieter wrestlers, but at the same time he is a part of the leadership on this team,” Minkel said. “He leads by example and he is just a quality young man. For him to get back to the NCAAs and wrestle as well as he did is a real credit to him and his family. We were happy to have him there and he certainly gave everything that he had.”
By all accounts the Big Ten is the toughest wrestling conference in the county. But Jones went to East Lansing and made his mark, improving every year. He became a two-time NCAA qualifier (2009, 2010). Jones went 4-1 in the 2010 Big Ten Championships to place third and posted a 3-2 record at the NCAA Championships and was one win shy of earning All-America honors.
After sitting out the 2010-11 season because of injury, Jones came back his senior year (2011-12) and put together his best college season.
“As a freshman you dream of becoming a national champion,” Anthony said. “But as I grew and I realized that as a competitor if I left nothing on the mat, I could feel good about my effort and career. I got an education out of it, incredible experiences, lifelong friends, and I’m a better person.”
The fact of the matter is the former Highland Park Polar Bear, Anthony, is in a sport that is dominated by White athletes, mainly because in urban cities throughout America, there are large African-American student populations, but most do not have wrestling programs.
“That is one of the things I just do not understand about urban American cities and their schools,” Anthony said. “If the Detroit Public School League (PSL) added wrestling to its sports programs, it would change the face of the sport in the state. It would take a lot of kids off the streets and put them in an environment that is physical, but it would channel that energy into a positive direction, and, maybe even an opportunity to go to ollege.”
Anthony and the Highland Park program are a prime example of the possibilities for many youth if given the opportunity. The Polar Bears have sent many youths to college and is one of the most renowned inner city programs in the country.
Anthony, coached by Washington at Highland Park High, won the 2007 Michigan Division 3 state title at 145 pounds with a perfect 47-0 record.
“HP is where I learned my craft and where my desire to be the best I can be really kicked in,” Anthony said.
Anthony is presently in Sofia helping train his college coach for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“After this experience I plan to get my master’s and coach. I graduate in May in Human Resources, but I still want to give the Olympics a shot in 2016,” he said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 13:17
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
The 2012 NFL Draft is set for April 26-28. Round 1 commences on the 26th, rounds 2-3 the 27th and rounds 4-7 on the 28th. The NFL Drat has evolved into a media and social network frenzy. Teams even host special viewings of the draft.
Martin Mayhew, Detroit Lions executive VP of Football Operations and general manager, is a softspoken guy and generally does not talk to the media during the season, so it was a special occasion when he gave the press a personal preview of the upcoming draft.
Mayhew told all that they have been meetings constantly, enduring the process, and that the front office has done a great job evaluating players and they have a good feel for those guys.
“We’re looking forward to this draft, we’re ready to roll,” he said. “It’s been a good process and I think our coaches and our scouts have done a great job of being prepared.”
On the importance of not commenting on specific draft eligible players, he said: “I think at 23, especially, it’s really important to be cognizant of being careful about who you’re talking about and how you’re talking about them. We’ve been through this before. I’ve been through this process before where you have your heart set on one guy and then somebody’s gone because somebody moved up in front of you and took that guy.
“It’s going to be a very different process at No. 23, so we’re going to be careful with that.”
On whether the draft is deep enough in certain areas: “I think in terms of the depth at different positions, it’s going to be fine. I think the difference is at two, there’s not many ways people can get in front of you to take guys who you like. So you can stand here and say how much you like (Ndamukong) Suh and what a great guy he is and all of that. I think when you start talking about getting down in the 20s and you have a limited number of prospects who you really have a great feel for that fit your organization in a great way, you don’t want to pump anybody up or knock anybody down.”
Mayhew said the trade opportunities drafting in the 23rd spot is very different that drafting in the No. 2 position. He noted that there is probably between four and seven guys that his drafting team really feels very comfortable with that are great fits for the Lions. He also noted that he has been getting very little trade talk about their 23rd pick in particular.
He was also asked about the marijuana issues with s number of players around the league is a problem.
“It’s just each individual situation,” he said. “If you go back to our draft process last year, it wasn’t much removed from our draft process in 2009 and 2010, and we didn’t have those problems in that area in those draft classes.
“We’re going to look at each individual situation. We did a lot of homework on those guys last year. We’re doing as much homework or more this year, but I think every individual situation has to be evaluated that way.”
Mayhew in the past had targeted a particular need, but in most cases went for the best player available.
“It’s the best player for us,” Mayhew said. “If a player fits us the best, that’s the guy who we’re looking to take. I think to a certain degree, as you improve your talent level in certain positions, then you improve your depth in certain positions. It obviously will lead you to try to extend your roster. We’re still going to take the best player, we’re not going to reach. It’s about not reaching for a particular position. If we have a need or something that we perceive as a need, not going past five or six good players to get to a guy that plays that particular position.”
The Lions are in a drafting position they have not in a decade and it presents an entirely new challenge.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 13:20
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
It is what it is, freedom or freedom of speech is just a mission statement or idea tossed out when it serves an agenda. Of course I understand that we cannot go out in the world and direct personal criticism at an individual — Miami Marlins first-year manager Ozzie Guillen did not do that.
I do understand he is a loose cannon. So when he recently came out and told a reporter he admires Fidel Castro because he is a survivor, I was not surprised. However, his comments set off protests in the middle of the community where the Marlins have built their new stadium and among fans they want to woo. For his non-thoughtful retort he was suspended five games by the Marlins after a protest involving about 200 people.
Sure, Castro is a bullheaded dictator. I do not believe anyone should rule any country for 50 years. It is insane to think only one person in 50-years is smart enough to uplift Cuba or bring it into the technology age. On the other hand, the large Cuban-American community should remember why they left Cuba. They left because of individual suppression, the lack of free speech and the exchanges of differing ideas and opinions, the same things they now want Guillen fired for.
THE FEMALE John Wooden of women’s college basketball, Pat Summitt, coached Tennessee for 38 years, recently retired. Her retirement from the game she loves was a direct result of her being diagnosed last year with early-onset Alzheimer’s. The disease simply won’t allow Summitt to perform her duties in the manner she has grown accustomed.
The White House announced Summitt will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. President Barack Obama says Summitt is an inspiration as the coach who has won more games than anyone else in NCAA college basketball history and for her willingness to “speak so openly and courageously about her battle with Alzheimer’s.”
WELL, I KNEW it was bound to happen, Shaquille O’Neal, who I’ve known personally for about 15 years, is a fun loving, jovial big, big man, but he has a tendency to put his foot in his mouth.
“Inside the NBA” host Ernie Johnson recently asked Shaq directly if he had ever tanked a game to try to get a better playoff position. Shaq immediately said no. But then he went on to say that he had coaches and GM’s who tell him to take games off so they could drop in the standings to avoid Utah in the standings, because they didn’t want to face them in the first round.
With Shaq concluding his first year as co-analyst on “Inside the NBA” with Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith, I knew it would not be long before he had to try to be as outrageous as Barkley. They are now the say anything that comes to one’s head duo.
I’ve known and watched former Lakers star player and GM Jerry West while Shaq was there and there is was no way West or former coach Phil Jackson would ask any player to be less than they are. I do not believe Shaq’s diarrhea of the mouth for a second. His words is the complete opposite of West or Jackson’s DNA. What we have here is reality TV and shock journalism seems to now be everywhere.
FORMER Detroit Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson is one of my all-time favorite Tigers. I was very disappointed when the Tigers unceremoniously let him go to the New York Yankees in 2009.
Sure, Tigers centerfielder Austin Jackson has done all he can to replace him, and the memory of the personable Granderson was starting to dissipate somewhat with his loyal Detroit following. However, Granderson got my baseball juices going again recently when he stole the early season spotlight by belting three home runs and going 5-for-5 with four RBIs in a Yankees 7-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Just think, if Granderson, who blasted 41 home runs last year, was in the order with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Well, I’m allowed to dream!
No matter, I’ll always keep my eyes of Grandy while wishing and hoping that he continue to uplift his status as one of the best players in Mayor League Baseball.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 13:15
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