Monday, April 30, 2012

Mariota shines as White team overwhelms Green team in spring game

Tacoi Sumler (right) congradulates Marcus Mariota after the redshirt freshman put on a show during the annual spring game at Autzen Stadium. The quarterback threw for 202 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 99 yards and 2 touchdowns. (Alex McDougall/Oregon Daily Emerald)
By Patrick Malee
Published April 28, 2012, last modified April 29, 2012

In the biggest game of spring football season, Chip Kelly barely got to watch his own team.

He was busy throughout the abbreviated scrimmage, roaming from sideline to sideline and being interviewed via headset by ESPN broadcasters up in the press box. So when reporters asked about what he saw from his two prospective quarterbacks, he was honest.

“I didn’t see anything,” Kelly said with a smile. “I was running around like an idiot, to be honest with you.”

Of course, even in the midst of his hectic afternoon, Kelly had a few moments to take notice of Marcus Mariota‘s breakout performance in a 41-14 White team victory. The redshirt freshman from Hawaii completed 18-of-26 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 99 yards and two more touchdowns. The highlight of the afternoon came when Mariota broke out of the pocket, juked a man and raced down the right side of the field for an 82-yard touchdown.

“It was great that we could get them on a big stage,” Kelly said. “And play in front of a crowd and kind of see what that atmosphere was really like. I think standing there as a spectator, I thought Marcus had a great day.”

Indeed, the only blatant misstep in Mariota’s day came when he telegraphed a pass to cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who made a diving interception. Mariota and junior quarterback Bryan Bennett combined for three interceptions in all, and it was clear that both still had plenty of progress to make over the summer.

“I think there was a couple times when both those guys forced the ball a little bit,” Kelly said. “But that’s why you have days like this. It’s interesting to see how they react.

“We obviously talk about it all the time: you don’t have to make it happen, you have to let it happen.”

In that sense, Mariota certainly did a better job of letting the game come to him on Saturday, and made a distinct impression upon the Autzen Stadium faithful in the process. But first impressions, even grand ones, are just that.

“That’s going to be everyone’s first impression of him, and he needs to use that to fuel his summer, to have a great summer,” offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said. “And same with Bryan; he didn’t have his best day today and the unit around him didn’t have their best day today, and so he’s gotta flip that and use that as momentum. It’s one day.”

“For me, any time to get a competition and go into the game is a big factor,” Mariota said. “I just wanted to come out and play my best, and just get the ball out to guys like Tacoi (Sumler) and Rahsaan (Vaughan) and De’Anthony (Thomas) and just to give them the chance to really showcase what they can do. And I felt that they did a good job, the offensive line held well, and the score kind of was representative of that. We did well, and just gotta continue to work.”

In all, the White team out-gained its opposition by 123 yards (398-275) on eleven less plays (50 compared to Green’s 61). For Helfrich, the spring game was a culmination of a “feeling out” period — deciding what works and what doesn’t within the fabric of this particular team. And in that sense, it was successful, no matter what the outcome of the final game was.

“So much in the spring, you’re just like, ‘hey let’s try this out, and see what happens,’” Helfrich said. “Sometimes that’s great, and sometimes it looks awful. You just have to try to pick and choose what you’re going to try to resurrect in the fall.”

Ranking the point guards:Siva top list at #2 Sporting

2. Peyton Siva, Louisville

Too many people have focused for too long on Siva’s flaws. Including Siva. He allowed himself to slip into a midseason funk as a junior while struggling with how he was being defended and what he brought to the team. When he focuses on his strength and imposes them on opponents, however, what happens is—Louisville wins.

Siva was named MVP of the Big East Tournament after driving the Cards, quite literally, to four consecutive victories. He made only two 3-point shots in the entire NCAA Tournament, and yet the Cards reached the 2012 Final Four.

Siva excels at creating extra possessions for the Cardinals (he averaged a combined nine rebounds/steals in the Big East tourney) and at generating scoring opportunities for his teammates (6.2 assists in the NCAAs).

If he were more dangerous as a deep shooter, Siva would be a much better player. But then, if he were, he’d most likely be playing the 2012-13 season in the NBA.

Mariota recaps terrific spring game

Marcus Mariota’s amazing performance was likely the most notable performance in this year’s Spring Game.

Although it was just one scrimmage for Mariota, he was clearly happy with his performance and excited about getting the win. “It was a great time for me. Especially to go against guys you go against every day. It’s fun to earn those bragging rights in the locker room. All and all it was a really great experience.”

Mariota showed that he is a humble leader by thanking his teammates and talking about the team. “I felt we all improved every week.” He continued by saying “These guys around me, they elevated me, because they knew I could do it… I just really got the ball to those guys. It was a good confidence booster and I’m just looking forward to the season.”

Given that he hasn’t played in front of a crowd this big in his life, his success was definitely a good sign of his ability to perform under pressure. “My dad always said, ‘nerves aren’t too bad, you’re human’ nerves are just what happens.” Mariota said, explaining how he deals with pressure “to control that was a little difficult for me, just because I didn’t expect so many people out there. It was fun and I just have to continue to keep getting better.”

Mariota also mentioned his teammates when describing how he approached the competition. “For me, any time to get a competition is a big factor. I just wanted to come out and play my best and get the ball out to guys like Tacoi, Rahsaan and DeAnthony. Just to give them a chance to show what they can do. I felt that they did a good job, the offensive line held up, and the score was representative of that.”

Mariota was also asked about his electric long touchdown run, and how it happened. “It was very instinctive. I just pulled it and my instincts took over… I couldn’t explain it.” He said, as he tried to explain the run. “They did a good job blocking, Tacoi was out there running right behind me. I can’t really explain it, I just did it instinctively”

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford signed by the San Francisco 49ers

2011 (SENIOR): Finished as the team's second leading receiver with 35 receptions for 376 yards and two to 10 games, including the Notre Dame game, when he made an appearance for the final play...received blows to the head against Washington State, USC and Oregon State which limited his playing time...missed the Oregon and Cal games after being carted off the field after sustaining a concussion in the first half at Oregon State...lined up behind Andrew Luck for the last play of the game in the regular season finale against Notre off to a fast start, catching 22 passes, including both of his touchdowns, over the first four games of the season...pulled down seven passes for 76 yards in the opener against San Jose State...followed up with a seven-catch, 106-yard performance at Duke...caught his first TD of the season with 39 seconds left in the second quarter, hauling in a 10-yard scoring strike from Luck...caught two passes for 45 yards in the win over Arizona, including a 39-yard grab...had six catches for 48 yards and a touchdown against UCLA...caught a five-yard pass from Luck with 1:51 left in the game to close out the scoring...showed tremendous courage one week after being forced out of the Washington State game by pulling down five passes for 40 yards against Washington...had three catches for 21 yards in Stanford's 58-46 triple-overtime thriller against USC...caught two passes for six yards against Oregon State before being forced out of the game after absorbing a blow to the head...also averaged 22.1 yards in his eight kickoff returns...has averaged 27.3 yards (2,132 total) in his 78 career kickoff returns, which ranks second all-time on Stanford's career list...has 102 career receptions for 1,534 yards (15.0) and 10 receiving touchdowns...

2010 (JUNIOR): Was limited to seven games due to various injuries...caught 25 passes for 396 yards (15.8) and three touchdowns in his seven games...also averaged 24.3 yards (462 total) in his 19 kickoff returns with a long of 88...missed the first two games of the season against Sacramento State and UCLA...made his season debut against Wake Forest and caught three passes for 65 yards and two touchdowns in Stanford's 68-24 victory over the Demon Deacons...eight-yard pass from Luck at the 9:12 mark accounted for Stanford's first touchdown on the game...was on the receiving end of a 35-yard touchdown strike at the 6:24 mark of the first quarter that gave the Cardinal a 14-7 lead...caught two passes for 23 yards at Notre Dame...hauled in six receptions for 52 yards at Oregon...turned in a three-catch, 73-yard effort against USC...pulled down a 35-yard reception from Luck in the second quarter...missed the Washington State game with injury...returned to action the next week at Washington and caught one pass for 16 yards...caught nine passes for 165 yards - both career highs - and one touchdown against Arizona...was on the receiving end of a 45-yard touchdown pass from Luck that opened the scoring at the 12:06 mark of the first quarter...accounted for 261 all-purpose yards in the game, including 84 kickoff return and 12 rushing yards...caught one pass for two yards in the Orange Bowl vs. Virginia Tech.

2009 (SOPHOMORE): Appeared in all 13 games and made nine starts...led the team in touchdown receptions (5) and finished second in receptions (37) and receiving yardage (682)...averaged 18.4 yards per catch, the highest average among receivers with 10 or more receptions...dynamic kickoff return specialist who earned first team All-Pac-10 honors on special teams...led the Pac-10 and ranked fifth nationally in kickoff-return average (31.5)...totaled 1,167 yards in kickoff returns, smashing Ryan Wells' single-season mark of 715 set in 2002...returned eight kickoffs for 40 or more yards... returned three kickoffs for touchdowns, which was a Stanford single-season record and tied the Pac-10 standard shared with USC's Anthony Davis (1974) and UCLA's Mathew Slater (2007)...finished the campaign with 1,915 all-purpose yards, which was the fourth-best total in Stanford single-season history...returned a third quarter kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown in the season opener at Washington State...returned opening kicks for TDs in back-to-back weeks against San Jose State (94) and No. 24 Washington (91)...his 94-yard return against San Jose State was the 10th-longest return in school history and the longest since T.J. Rushing returned an 87-yarder for a score against Notre Dame in 2005... totaled 1,106 all-purpose yards on the season which ranked sixth in Stanford's all-time single-season list...had three receptions for 86 yards in the season-opener at Washington State, including a 63-yard touchdown reception at the 11:54 mark of the second quarter...caught a quick out pass from Luck and ran 60 yards for the score...totaled 239 all-purpose yards in the game, compiling 163 yards on kickoff returns...caught a season-high six passes for 60 yards at Wake Forest...had five catches for a season-high 116 yards in a 43-38 loss at Arizona...was on the receiving end of a 47-yard pass from Andrew Luck in the third quarter, Stanford's second longest pass play of the season...accounted for 287 all-purpose yards, compiling 164 yards in kickoff returns...returned the opening kick 52 yards down to the Arizona 33 yard line...caught four passes for 111 yards and accounted for 197 more yards on five kickoff returns in Stanford's 51-42 win over No. 7 Oregon...caught a 31-yard TD from Luck at the 8:50 mark of the third quarter...had kickoff returns of 77 and 43 yards...compiled 119 yards on five kickoff returns, including a long of 44 yards, against Cal...also caught two passes for 66 yards...named a midseason All-American by Sporting News...two-time Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week (Sept. 7 and 28th)...along with Nate Whitaker, was the co-recipient of the Phil Moffatt Award as the team's most outstanding special teams player.

2008 (FRESHMAN): Was one of eight true freshmen to see game action...successfully came back from a torn right MCL suffered on Aug. 19 in the final scrimmage of fall camp... made a contribution both at wide receiver and special teams...had five catches totaling 80 yards, including 41-yarder from Alex Loukas against Washington State which ranked as Stanford's second-longest pass play of the season...made his collegiate debut against Arizona and caught three passes for 22 yards...also finished with 326 yards on 14 kickoff returns (23.3 avg.), highlighted by a season-long 54-yard return at UCLA...had six returns for 121 yards, including a 41-yarder, at Oregon.

HIGH SCHOOL AND PERSONAL DATA: Graduated from Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, Calif...ranked as the No. 36 wide receiver in the country, the No. 34 overall recruit in California and the No. 240 overall recruit in the nation by an All-American wide receiver by SuperPrep and also ranked as the No. 49 best prospect in California/Hawaii/Nevada by the All-Northwest Section choice by the Ventura County Star and a first team All-Tri-Valley League selection as a senior in 2007...caught 32 passes for 563 yards and six touchdowns in his final campaign despite playing in only seven games due to an injury for a team that won a state title and a fifth straight section crown...also contributed 30 tackles and two picks on defense in 2007...had 33 catches for 747 yards and nine TDs as a junior in 2006 to earn first team All-Tri-Valley League honors, while contributing 23 tackles and one posted a 46-3 overall record during his four prep seasons and won four consecutive CIF Southern Section titles...was an all-state sprinter as a junior in 2007, breaking the Ventura County meet record in the 100 meters in 2007 with a time of 10.65...added two All-Tri-Valley League honors in basketball in his sophomore and junior seasons...majoring in human biology.

Matthew Masifilo signed by the San Francisco 49'ers as an undrafted free agent

Ewa Beach, HI
High School:
Campbell HS
Height / Weight:
6-3 / 280

Pronunciation: mah-see-FEE-lo

AT STANFORD: Fifth-year senior is the lone returning starter on the defensive line...has started 19 games over the last three seasons, including all 13 last year.

2010 (JUNIOR): Honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection...started all 13 games at defensive end opposite Brian Bulcke...led all interior linemen with 33 total tackles...also had 4.0 sacks among his 4.5 tackles-for-loss...had two pass breakups and a fumble recovery...had two sacks and a forced fumble among his season-high five tackles in Stanford's 41-0 victory at Washington...also had a pair of five-tackle games against Cal and Oregon State.

2009 (SOPHOMORE): Began the season as the starting tackle on a talented defensive line but was limited to eight games after suffering a knee injury in the second game of the season at Wake Forest...missed the next five games before returning to action for the Arizona State game...finished the season with 18 tackles, including 11 solo efforts, and one sack...had four tackles at Wake Forest...was impressive in the win over No. 11 USC on Nov. 14...had an interception on a deflected Matt Barkley pass in the first quarter and was also credited with a sack...turned in a solid performance against Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl with six total tackles, including one for loss (-11).

2008 (REDSHIRT FRESHMAN): Appeared in 12 games and made four starts...finished with 22 total tackles, including 11 solo...also had one fumble recovery...made his first career start at UCLA at nose tackle and started the next three games against Washington State, Oregon and USC...finished with a season-high five tackles at Washington on Sept. 27...had three tackles against the Ducks...fumble recovery came against USC.

2007 (FRESHMAN): Did not see game action...along with Jason Forcier and Andrew Fowler, earned the Greg Piers Award, given annually to the team's top scout team players.

HIGH SCHOOL AND PERSONAL DATA: Graduated from Campbell High School in Ewa Beach, Hawaii...PrepStar All-American selection who was considered one of the nation's top prospects...played on the offensive line in high school...rated as the seventh-best defensive lineman recruit in the nation...was listed as the second-best recruit in the state and among the Top 25 defensive line prospects in the country by and to the Northwest Hot 100 team...battled through injuries to earn second team all-state honors as a senior...chosen to the 2006 All-Hawaii Academic team...member of the National Honor Society...father, Etika, is originally from Tonga while his mother, Tina, is from Kauai, Hawaii... majoring in mechanical engineering.

James Aiono, DT, Utah signed by the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent

James Aiono (DE/DT)

Utah starting defensive tackle James Aiono was the only projected NFL draft pick for the team.
UTAH: Played in 23 games in his two-year career, primarily at defensive tackle, but also some at defensive end ... initially signed with Utah out of high school in 2007 but first went to Snow College.

2011-Played in all 13 games with starts against Montana State and USC ... two total tackles ... two pass breakups (Arizona State and USC).

2010-Played in 10 games ... 10 tackles ... season-high four tackles against San Jose State ... assisted tackle for loss against Iowa State.

PRIOR TO UTAH: 2008 first-team junior college All-American was rated the No. 1 junior college recruit in the nation in 2008 by ... Western States Football League 2008 Defensive MVP and first-team all-conference defensive lineman ... 2007 second-team All-American and first-team all-WSFL ... led Snow College to the WSFL title both years ... first-team all-state and all-region as a senior at Murray High School (Utah) in 2006 ... won four letters in football ... rated the fourth-best prospect in the state by coming out of high school.

PERSONAL: Son of Ta'aloga and Ali'itasi Aiono ... youngest of five children ... married (Malvina) ... earned a bachelor's degree in sociology ... full name is James Pelenise Aiono (pronounced eye-oh-no) ... born Jan. 23, 1989 in Anaheim, Calif

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Loni Fangupo, DT, BYU signs with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent


Fangupo is a lane clogger, and although his play can seem uninspired at times, he actually is very effective in this role and should look to do the same for a 3-4 scheme at the next level. A transfer to BYU by way of USC and Mount San Antonio Community College, Fangupo is an older player who never got a strong chance to establish himself with any team at the collegiate level. He could be a late-riser, as he is said to have serious strength for the position. Look for a team with a scheme in which Fangupo would fit to select him in the late rounds.

Fangupo does not display proper footwork and has limited athletic ability, but his strength is evident, as it looks like he is able to occupy two blockers with absolute ease at times. Strength is his whole game and will define his value and effectiveness at the next level.

Fangupo is an extremely slow mover. He doesn't even show poor footwork; he shows no footwork. He is reliable only to come off the ball slowly and hold up blockers, and his size, body type and injury history don't indicate that he will get better here.

Tevita Finau signs with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent.

UTAH: Developed into a dominating defensive tackle as a senior ... also played end ... did not play in 2009 after completing his junior college career ... got a late start to his first season at Utah in 2010.

2011-Played in all 13 games, starting the final four games of the season ... 37 tackles with 5.0 TFL and 3.0 sacks ... played a huge role in Utah's Sun Bowl win against Georgia Tech, recording a career-high 10 tackles with a TFL ... six tackles against UCLA ... five tackles against Oregon State included three sacks, which tied for the 12th-best single-game total in the country ... two pass breakups (Pitt and Montana State) ... four tackles against Arizona State.

2010-After joining the team in the fourth week of the season, he got his first playing time a week later against Iowa State ... played in the final eight games of the regular season with a start against TCU ... missed the Las Vegas bowl with a shoulder injury ... five total tackles.

PRIOR TO UTAH: Second-team NJCAA All-American at Phoenix College in 2007 ... 2008 region Co-Defensive Player of the Year ... 2008 All-WSFL second-team defense ... 89 tackles in 10 games with 19 TFL, seven sacks and three forced fumbles in 2007 ... 53 tackles, 11 TFL and a forced fumble in 2008 ... grayshirted in 2006 ... attended three high schools in Hawaii: Lahaina HS as a freshman and sophomore, Maui HS as a junior and Kahuka HS as a senior ... Kahuka won the 2004 Hawaii state championship ... three-year first-team all-state honoree in football and basketball.

PERSONAL: Son of Tolu and Finau Takinima ... four brothers and one sister ... married to the former Adrianne Galeai ... daughter Aila ... born in Hamilton, New Zealand, he was raised in Hawaii and Tonga ... lived in Maui until he was eight, in Tonga from years 8-to-12 and in Hawaii until he finished high school ... scheduled to graduate in spring 2012 with a degree in sociology ... full name is Tevita Tolu Finau (pronounced ta-vee-ta Fee-now) ... born Jan. 13, 1986.

CHRISTIAN TUPOU, DT, Grant: UDFA signed with the San Diego Chargers

Name: Christian Tupou

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 289

Projection: Undrafted Free Agent

USC senior Christian Tupou finished his career with an All Pac-12 Honorable Mention nod after missing the 2010 with a knee injury suffered during the spring game prior to that season. Now that he has wrapped up his career at USC, a career that includes 33 starts, he is hoping for a shot at playing on Sundays.

Tupou plays with great pad level and is great at the point of attack, but doesn’t generally use his hands well. While he does get off the ball extremely well and plays with an exceptional motor, he doesn’t defeat blocks on a regular basis. However, maybe the biggest knock on him is that at 289 pounds, he is undersized for a nose guard and doesn’t have the exceptional athleticism required to play the 3 technique.

With almost half the NFL now running a 3-4 defense, they are looking for nose guards in the 350 pound range who can hold up against the pounding of physical interior offensive lineman over a long season. Tupou doesn’t really have the frame to bulk up to that weight. Even in a 4-3 front he would be considered undersized for an NFL nose guard. Playing the nose means that he will see 700 pounds of vicious double teams on just about every play. At best he will be required to defeat those double teams and at worst he will be expected to not get pushed off of the line of scrimmage.

Topou plays with heart, toughness, a great motor, and he has a great work ethic. These attributes should be enough to get him invited to camp, but due to his size and lack of elite athleticism I do not see him getting drafted.

Seahawks sign Lavasier Tuinei

Lavasier Tuinei, Oregon State

By KVAL Sports Published: Apr 28, 2012 at 8:02 PM PDT Last Updated: Apr 28, 2012 at 8:18 PM PDT

Oregon's Lavasier Tuinei takes the ball to the 1-yard line during the first half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, Monday, Jan. 2, 2012, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Former Oregon receiver Lavasier Tuinei has come to terms on a free agent deal with the Seattle Seahawks.

The Ducks leading receiver in 2011 was named Rose Bowl Offensive Player of the Game with career-highs with eight catches and 158 yards as well as two touchdowns against Wisconsin.

Still available to be signed as a free agent Hebron Fangupo, DT, BYU

Hebron Fangupo, DT, BYU
Scouting Report
Brigham Young (HT: 6-0¾ - WT: 323)
Positives -- Southern California transfer with a year of experience in BYU's 3-4 defense... Ideal frame for a 3-4 nose tackle and has also played a lot of 5-technique for BYU... Gets good pop on his hand punch, has some natural

power, stout player who uses his low center of gravity and squatty build to his

advantage; solid anchor, is too strong to be moved around, space eater, can occupy multiple blockers, collapses running lanes, keeps linebackers clean and allows them to roam free into the backfield... Has some stack and shed potential, flashed good hand play and showed the ability to slip blocks... Gets skinny to split double teams, can fight his way into the backfield and can dominate versus the run... Mature, served a two-year mission in the Philippines prior to junior college; married, has overcome a lot of adversity in his football career... Plays with a lot of physicality and energy, has an unselfish attitude and is well-liked by teammates, good locker room guy.
Negatives -- Has a lot of potential but is still very raw, technique needs work, lacks polish, struggles with leverage despite his shorter frame... Is limited as a pass rusher, massive frame makes it difficult to split gaps and penetrate, has a decent bull rush to collapse the pocket but no other pass rushing moves in his arsenal... A linear athlete, a one-dimensional type of player with below average lateral agility... Needs to play with better pad level, gets too upright and linemen can get underneath him, engages a little high, needs to play lower off the snap... Allowed his pad level to get too high in head up situations, makes it easy for blocker to push him out of the play... Lacks balance, ends up on the ground too often, loses control at times and allows momentum to get the best of him... Doesn't have much FCS experience, was a highly rated recruit out of junior college and was enrolled at USC for just one year before transferring... Was a backup defensive tackle at USC but fractured his ankle in their fourth game.

Vaughn Meatoga signs with the Redskins

Vaughn Meatoga, DT, Hawaii
Defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga signed a free agent deal with the Washington Redskins.
Meatoga was a college defensive tackle, but has the size and athletic ability to make the transition to defensive end in a 3-4 system.

Meatoga is strong against the run and has a high motor.

Arizona Cardinals Take OG/OT Senio Kelemete In The 5th Round Of The 2012 NFL Draft

 by GreaZzy on Apr 28, 2012 12:58 PM MDT in NFL Draft/Combine

Cardinals continue their strong 2012 Draft by grabbing #56 OG Senio Kelemete (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

After taking Bobby Massie earlier in the 4th round, the Cardinals double up on offensive linemen by selecting Washington OT Senio Kelemete, although Kelemete will almost assuredly be moved inside to play guard. Kelemete has a very high ceiling, due to his great natural athleticism, but will need some work on technique at the next level. If Russ Grimm is the great offensive line coach we all claim he is, Kelemete should be a very good guard in a couple of years.

Hit the jump for more on Kelemete

Kelemete is often praised for his natural athleticism. He has quick feet and good explosion of the snap. Very fluid in his movements and changing directions but technique is below average and will need to be refined. His quick get off puts him in good position to handle opposing pass rushers, however lower quality technique detracts from ability.

When moved inside, Kelemete should have little trouble with interior rushers. Great lower body strength allows him to anchor against bull rushers, and good fluidity in movement allows him to stay with defenders. Run blocking is also a strength of Kelemete's, as his explosion of the line and aggressive blocking allows him to create lanes for his runningbacks.

Overall, Kelemete will need a season or two, but with Russ Grimm coaching up his technique, Kelemete should be a great addition to the Cardinals offensive line. Pairing him up with fourth rounder Bobby Massie on the right side give the Cardinals to great offensive line prospects to reconstruct then Cardinals oft criticized offensive line.

2012 NFL Draft Results: Pittsburgh Selects NT Alameda Ta'amu In The 4th Round

Steelers draft nose tackle
Saturday, April 28, 2012
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Dave Martin/Associated Press

Washington's Alameda Ta'Amu runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in February.

The Steelers chose nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu of Washington on the fourth round of the NFL draft, their first pick of the day.

They traded their sixth-round draft choice to Washington and swapped their picks in the fourth round so they could move up 10 spots to the 14th pick of the round in order to draft Ta'amu, who is 6-3, 348 pounds.

The Steelers went looking in this draft for the eventual replacement for Casey Hampton, who will enter his 12th season in the NFL. Hampton took a paycut this year and had ACL surgery in January.

Ta'Amu was considered by many to be the purest 3-4 nose tackle available in the draft.

"His job is to keep the LB free ... and he did that very well at the University of Washinton," Steelers line coach John Mitchell said. He added that if Ta'amu plays how they think he can, "This guy can play a long time and be a pretty good football player."

Ta'amu said he thought the Steelers were among the teams most interested in drafting him and he's happy they did so. He said he's looking forward to meeting Troy Polamalu.

"He represents lot of the Polynesians out here," Ta'amu said.

He also has watched Hampton's progress through the years.

"He holds his ground," Ta'amu said. "He takes up more than one blocker a play and im trying to do that."

Barring another trade, the Steelers now have a pick left in the fifth round and four in the seventh.
by Ryan Van Bibber

The 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft continued Thursday afternoon. For picks 106-110, the Seattle Seahawks got things started with Robert Turbin, a running back from Utah State. Turbin is powerful north-south runner with upside as a three-down back. Some have compared him to James Starks.

Pittsburgh had been associated with Alameda Ta'amu prior to the draft, as many wondered whether or not the Steelers would find a replacement nose tackle for Casey Hampton. Many believed he could have been picked prior to the fourth round.

106. Buffalo Bills: Utah State RB Robert Turbin, 5'10" 222 pounds

107. Kansas City Chiefs: Fresno State WR Devon Wylie, 5'9", 187 pounds

108: Denver Broncos: Baylor C Phillip Blake, 6'2", 311 pounds

109: Pittsburgh Steelers: Washington DT Alameda Ta'amu, 6'3", 348 pounds

Here is what Mocking the Draft had to say about the 6-foot-3, 330-pound Ta'amu:

Final word: When a defensive tackle is this big, the expectation is that the player is an immovable object in the middle. Coming out of Temple, the knock on Terrance Knighton was that he didn't play quite as strong as his size may suggest. The same thing can be said of Ta'amu. Like Knighton, Ta'amu is a better athlete than you'd expect and gets off his blocks fairly easily. There is also some versatility in how they can be used. Coming out, Knighton played both one- and zero-technique, much like Ta'amu was at Washington. While Ta’amu could hold up as a 3-4 nose tackle, he’s not quite as natural there as his measurables suggest.

Kennedy Tulimasealii Class of 2013

6'1'', 300 lbs. | 40: 4.99 | Class of 2013
Waianae, HI
Waianae High School
Defensive Tackle

Jeremiah Taleni Class of 2013

6'1'', 340 lbs. | 40: 5.68 | Class of 2013
Kailua, HI
Kailua High School
Defensive Tackle

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Maualuga cleared in bar fight case

Posted: Apr 26, 2012 6:38 AM
Updated: Apr 26, 2012 7:00 AM
Posted by FOX19 Digital Media Staff - email

Bengals Linebacker Rey Maualuga in court on Thursday


In court on Thursday, misdemeanor charges against Bengals Linebacker Rey Maualuga were dropped.

Back in February, Maualuga was charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly punching Luxe general manager Sammy Laham.

In early March, the judge sent Maualuga and the bar manager into mediation, in hopes they could work out their differences.

The mediation was successful and now Maualuga is cleared of all charges.

Scott Pagano Class of 2013 Wolverines Offer Pagano

Scott Pagano By Jake Worthen
West Recruiting Analyst
Date: Apr 7, 2012

Honolulu (Haw.) Moanalua defensive tackle Scott Pagano has added Michigan to his list of over twenty offers…

Pagano is a load on the defensive line and has a tremendous amount of strength and good quickness that could allow him to be either a defensive end or tackle in college. He's blown up recruiting-wise as one of the best kept secrets in Hawaii who is a secret no more. Needs to work on playing a little lower but he's quick enough and strong enough at the prep level that he can get away with it in high school. -Brandon Huffman

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

100 Best College Football Players of 2012 BR Manti Te'o #5 and Star Lotulelei #86

No. 5 Manti Te’o, Notre Dame Linebacker

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Arguably the best defensive player in the entire nation for the 2012 college football season, Te’o has trimmed down some of his weight and has added even more explosiveness to his big game ability.

The linebacker is like a jet when chasing down skill players, but his smarts are arguably his best asset. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco allows him to do so much because he is capable of taking it all in as an incoming senior.

Te’o has not missed a game yet as he has started in all but two of Notre Dame’s last 38 games (22-16). Notre Dame has not been a national factor during Te'o's stay in South Bend, but he is looking to change that before he heads off to the NFL.

The front seven of the Irish should be darn good even with the recent transfer of Aaron Lynch, but the schedule is daunting.

Most look at it as games where the Irish should get exposed, but Te’o and the squad should look at the USC, Oklahoma, Michigan and Michigan State games as opportunities to make the doubters eat crow.

The strength, explosion and personnel awareness should make No. 5 an easy choice as a 2012 All-American.

No. 86 Star Lotulelei, Utah Defensive Lineman

This Utes defensive tackle has breakout star written all over him, but only because it was his first season last year.

The former junior college transfer is a wide body (6’1”, 310) that can plug up the line and take on two linemen without much effort.

Second on the team in tackle for losses (nine), his numbers will only increase in 2012 with seven returnees back on defense.

Taylor Taliulu: Reportedly switches up commitment

by the staff of, January 30, 2012 at 12:28 pm ET

Mike Leach and Cougar defensive coordinator Mike Breske travelled to the Islands recently for an in-home with safety and verbal Taylor Taliulu. But sometimes the draw for staying closer to home weighs heavily on a prospect and his family. The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported early Monday morning that Taliulu has switched his commitment from WSU to Hawaii.

"I felt home would be the best place for me to get a scholarship and try to be the best player I can be," Taliulu told the paper. "I think coach (Norm) Chow has a really good coaching staff. I feel I can gain the best knowledge from them."

Football: Bellarmine Prep QB Sefo Liufau commits to Colorado Post by Doug Pacey / The News Tribun

Colorado was comfortable.

A few days after visiting the University of Colorado last week, Bellarmine Prep quarterback Sefo Liufau orally committed to the Buffaloes.

“When my dad and I visited,” Liufau said, “they made us feel comfortable. It was a good fit.”

The 6-foot-4 and 220-pound junior committed to Colorado on Friday. Liufau, rated by most scouting services as a four-star recruit, said he enjoyed the time he spent with CU coaches and was impressed by what he perceived as a family atmosphere.

Colorado’s offensive scheme, which is similar to what Bellarmine Prep runs, was also a positive.

“We have different calls,” he said, “but everything else is pretty much the same.”

Liufau is a two-year starter and helped lead the Lions deep into the state playoffs his sophomore and junior seasons.

Also a standout on the basketball court, Liufau does not play a spring sport. Instead, he said he’s spending his free time in the weight room and throwing to teammates in preparation for the fall.

Liufau is the second Washington quarterback to commit to an out-of-state school this month. Skyline’s Max Browne, a five-star recruit, pledged Southern California..

Though Colorado is the only school that has offered a scholarship to Liufau, it won’t be surprise if more schools follow suit in the coming months. Liufau said he’ll listen to their pitches, but he doesn’t plan to change his mind.

“I’ll respectfully listen to what they have to say,” Liufau said, “but I’m a Buff.”

Baltimore Ravens Top 5 All-Time 1st-Round Draft Picks

#5 Defensive Tackle Haloti Ngata
Does everyone remember when Mark Schlereth blasted the Baltimore Ravens for drafting Haloti Ngata at No. 12 overall in the 2006 NFL draft? I am paraphrasing here but he basically labeled Ngata as a bust because he allegedly took plays off.

Well if he takes plays off most Ravens fans have not noticed. Neither have the Pro Bowl voters. The Oregon product has started 92 games for the Ravens while collecting 17 sacks, three interceptions and 316 total tackles. He has made three Pro Bowls and has been a major contributor to five Ravens playoff teams.

Roach, Paea given Piccolo Award April, 24, 2012 Apr 24 10:40 AM CT By Jeff Dickerson |

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears linebacker Nick Roach and second-year defensive tackle Stephen Paea have been honored as the 2011 recipients of the Brian Piccolo Award.

The Brian Piccolo Award has been given to a Bears rookie since 1970 and was expanded in 1992 to include a veteran winner. Teammates vote for the rookie and veteran who best exemplify the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of the late Brian Piccolo.

Piccolo passed away in 1970 at the age of 26 from embryonal cell carcinoma.

Six other players on the current roster are former winners of the Brian Piccolo Award: Matt Forte (2008), Devin Hester (2006), Johnny Knox (2009), Charles Tillman (2003 and 2006), Brian Urlacher (2000 and 2007) and J'Marcus Webb (2010).

Isaac Sopoaga can be a very vital part of the San Francisco 49ers' defense.

Sopoaga's 2011 was nothing to truly complain about. The veteran nose tackle had 31 tackles to help plug the holes in the 49ers' defense.

Look for Sopoaga's production to increase in 2012. With Justin Smith and Aldon Smith getting a lot of attention on the defensive line, Sopoaga will have easier access to ball carriers and quarterbacks.

Sopoaga's tackles will increase and some sacks will be seen on his stat sheet in 2012.

Alameda Ta'amu: 5 Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses of 2012 NFL Draft Prospect

Alameda Ta'amu has one thing that teams covet in the National Football League: prototypical size for a nose tackle.

This position has taken on added importance over the course of the last few seasons, which leads teams to select for need more than value.

Now, I am not concluding that the Washington product wouldn't represent value in the middle rounds. On the contrary, I really like the way Ta'amu plays.

Here are five strengths and weaknesses as they relate to his game translating to the NFL.

Strength: Stops the Run, Acts Like an Anchor

Alameda Ta'amu might not be much more than a space-eater in the National Football League, but that might be all that is asked of him.

The huge nose tackle helps in run defense merely with his presence on the football field. He enables linebackers to go in another direction rather than be relied on to stop the run. This has a trickle-down effect for the entire defense.

Also, 3-4 teams can slot the Washington product in as a nose tackle and not have to worry too much about teams running up the gut against them.

Weakness: Lacks Discipline

One major issue with regard to Alameda Ta'amu is the fact that he plays undisciplined at the line of scrimmage, which should be a huge red flag for 3-4 defenses looking to draft him.

Just view the embedded video for a second, and you will know what I am talking about. His head is down far too often, which disables his ability to read the play and actually be a consistent force in the trenches.

He also tends to jump the gun by going up the field rather than maintaining the gap in the trenches. This takes him out of the play and opens up a hole for the running back to plow through.

It is this type of play that has led me to believe that he shouldn't go before the third round in the draft.

Strength: Extremely Strong at Point of Contact

Alameda Ta'amu isn't just a huge figure along the interior of the defensive line; he is as strong as they come.

This is a prospect that will consistently move the line, forcing the pocket to close quickly on the quarterback and disabling the running backs' ability to run up the gut.

This was a consistent theme in watching game film of the Washington product in college. What he does is force blocking schemes to focus on him, leaving oncoming pass-rushers the ability to go up against single-teams a majority of the time.

Weakness: Position Specific

In relation to defensive line prospects, one thing that a lot of scouts look at is whether they can play multiple positions in multiple schemes.

Alameda Ta'amu just doesn't have this ability.

He lacks the speed and technique to play outside like some of the best defensive tackles in the National Football League. Moreover, Ta'amu seems to be best suited to play nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme.

While a team running a 4-3 scheme like the Kansas City Chiefs might take a look at him, he just doesn't seem suited to play in that type of defense.

Strength: Fills the Gap

This fits right in with what I said about his ability to act as an anchor.

Alameda Ta'amu will be a force, simply because he helps outside defenders to go up against single blockers a great majority of the time.

Ta'amu will not be moved off the line of scrimmage much, if at all. He will take up two blockers, force the running back outside and cause issues with regard to the quarterback's ability to have a clean throwing lane between the hashes.

Monday, April 23, 2012

USC offensive lineman Abe Markowitz

2012: Markowitz will serve as a backup center as a senior in 2012.

2011: Markowitz, who was set to compete for playing time at center as a junior in 2011, did not play in USC's first 3 games of 2011, then had season-ending foot surgery. He missed 2011 spring practice after having foot surgery prior to spring drills.

2010: Markowitz, a one-time walk-on who earned a scholarship in the fall of 2010, was a backup center as a sophomore in 2010, but he did not see any action. He missed USC's first 7 games of 2010 with a foot injury and was sidelined the rest of the season with a foot fracture.

2009: Markowitz played briefly in the San Jose State opener in 2009 as a redshirt freshman center.

2008: Markowitz redshirted in 2008 as a first-year walk-on freshman center.

TRACK: He also is a shotputter on USC's track team. His best throw of 2010 was a career-best 53-11. He was 13th in the shot put at the 2010 Pac-10 Championships (52-5 ½). He practiced with the USC track team in 2009, but did not compete.

HIGH SCHOOL: He made 2007 Super Prep All-Farwest, Honolulu Star-Bulletin All-State honorable mention and Honolulu Advertiser All-Interscholastic League of Honolulu honorable mention as a senior offensive and defensive lineman at Punahou High in Honolulu (Hi.).

He also was on Punahou's track team, winning the 2008 ILH shot put and discus championships while placing second in both events in the 2008 state meet.

PERSONAL: He is a public policy, management and planning major at USC. He was born in New Zealand and lived in Western Samoa until he was 4 years old. He is a member of one of Samoa's royal families, the Aiga Sa Malietoa, and he was selected as a "High Talking Chief" of the family. He also is a cousin of the King of Tonga. He was a vocal soloist and Samoan dancer at Punahou. He enjoys photography. His grandfather, Larry, played football at USC in the early 1950s, while his cousin is former USC offensive lineman Faaesea Mailo (1996, 1999-2002) and his distant cousins include former (2005-08) Trojan and current NFL linebackers Rey Maualuga and Kaluka Maiava. His father, Barry, lettered as a linebacker at UCLA in 1974, his great grandfather, Richard Love, played basketball and tennis at UCLA in the 1920s and his other cousins include former UCLA and Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Frank Manumaleuga, ex-Arizona and NFL (St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, Chicago Bears) tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, former Hawaii and San Francisco 49er offensive lineman Jesse Sapolu, former Colorado offensive guard Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner, Kansas State sophomore offensive lineman Tomasi Tuioti-Mariner and BYU sophomore defensive tackle Travis Tuiloma.

Future Star to Watch in the Ducks Spring Game

By Joey Holland (Contributor) on April 23, 2012
OK, this one is pretty obvious. Mariota will be hard to miss in Oregon's spring game. Even so, I am really excited about this kid.

At 6'4" and 200 pounds, Mariota has a similar build to former Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon. What's even more impressive is that he runs as well as Dixon did with excellent 4.5 speed.

Though he is in the middle of a quarterback battle with Bryan Bennett, Mariota is a perfect fit for the Ducks' spread offense. He's got great touch and accuracy with his throws. Receiver Devon Blackmon even said that he preferred Mariota's passes to Bennet's because of his touch.

I've chosen not to include Bennett on this list simply because he showed us all what he is capable of last season in limited playing time.

Mariota has all the intangibles. In only one year as a starting quarterback in high school, he led his team to a state championship. Look for him to continue his success when he takes the field on Saturday.

Signing Class of 2012 – Defense Oregon State University

OSU reached out as far as American Samoa to land their big bodied Samoan d-tackle. Noke Tago (6-3, 290 / Pago Pago, AS / Leone) will be a big time project after playing his first year of organized football last year. Coach Riley swears by the quality of film from American Samoa and if Tago is anything like former Beaver and now Chicago Bear Stephen Paea (in terms of raw/unknown talent) OSU will keep the Samoan pipeline open.

Caleb Saulo (6-2, 215 / Kentlake, WA / Kent) is the lowest rated 'backer of the group, but will graduate early and be on campus for spring ball which will put him a step ahead of his classmates. Saulo will most likely redshirt, but has great potential down the road. Caleb plays with a little 'nasty' and will be one to keep track of down the road.

Rommel Mageo (6-2, 220 / Pago Pago, AS / Samoana) opened the door to d-tackle teammate Noke Tago and could be a sleeper in this class. Mageo is a bit underdeveloped in terms of technique, but has the physicality and burst needed at linebacker in the Pac-12. Mageo will be interesting to watch develop and how fast he picks things up will determine how soon he sees the field.

'American Dream' Alive in American Samoa

Joe Salave'a lived his American Dream, going from American Samoa to the NFL. Now he is recruiting his home for WSU as defensive line coach.

Jack Thompson came off the island to play QB for the Cougars before being drafted into the NFL in 1979.
Destiny Vaeao is one of two American Samoa natives recruited to WSU in 2012.
Robert Barber thought he might come off American Samoa via the military. Instead, he got a scholarship from the Cougars.
Mosi Tatupu had a nice NFL career.

Doug Drowley Publisher
When college and professional football fans consider the great football 'factories,' a small island in the South Pacific likely doesn't come to mind.

But for more and more high school players on American Samoa, football is becoming their portal to bigger things. Already this Polynesian island, population 55,000, has molded a rich tradition in the sport.

And Washington State has played a prominent role in the development of that Samoan tradition, dating back to the mid-1970s. That's when the Cougars recruited a young man from the island who came to be known as "The Throwin' Samoan," Jack Thompson.

Thompson is one of 11 players born on American Samoa to eventually find his way into the ranks of the National Football League. Another is the guy new WSU coach Mike Leach will now rely on to further build on the Cougars' Samoan connection - defensive line coach Joe Salave'a.

Already, Salave'a has paid off for Leach. Washington State signed two players from American Samoa in the 2012 recruiting class - defensive end prospects Destiny Vaeao and Robert Barber.

The Cougars weren't the only Northwest school to tap the Samoan pipeline in 2012, however. Oregon State and Mike Riley also got two recruits from the island.

And these four could be just the beginning.

"I don't have a crystal ball," Salave'a said recently. "I can't see so far ahead. But I guarantee as long as I'm in the profession, you're going to see me on the island more often than not.

"These families don't have much. It's their dream to have their kids get opportunities they never had."

The globalization of American football, and the way colleges on the mainland find prospects, has opened up small areas like American Samoa as never before.

Not counting the four recruits that signed on Feb. 1 with Washington State and Oregon State, 11 student-athletes from American Samoa currently are playing Division I college football. The schools that have found these prospects are UNLV, Hawaii, Arizona (2), Austin Peay (I-AA, 2), Western Michigan, Alcorn State (I-AA, 3), Wyoming (walk-on), and Wazzu (invited walk-on Lawrence Danielson).

"This will be our biggest year yet," said Brandon Smart, who along with his brother runs the non-profit Field House 100, an organization that aids students on American Samoa in obtaining scholarships.

But the four signees in 2012 could be dwarfed in less than a year. Smart says as many as 10 players could sign National Letters of Intent from off the island in 2013.

How times have changed.

Less than 20 years ago, when Salave'a went through the recruiting process, he had to take steps just to get seen by colleges. Following his brother, who moved to California to play high school football before gaining a scholarship at Colorado under Bill McCartney, Salave'a left American Samoa and moved to San Diego in 1989.

Salave'a graduated from Oceanside High, got his scholarship to Arizona, and eventually got drafted into the NFL in 1998.

"Back in those days, it was few and far between that schools would come down there (to the island)," Salave'a said. "I'm highly motivated. This is now an opportunity for me to give those kids a chance to come off the island."

Salave'a had an eight-year career in the NFL with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins.

Once his playing days were done, after the 2006 season, Salave'a moved into coaching. New WSU coach Mike Leach hired him away from his alma mater - Arizona.

"Somebody took a chance on me," Salave'a said. "If our kids stay focused, all those dreams can become reality."


Four decades ago, such opportunities were few and far between. When Thompson came off the island to play for Washington State in the 1970s, the bigger opportunity for kids to see the world came via military service.

Even today, Barber mentioned joining the military as an option had he not gotten a scholarship to attend WSU.

Robert Barber thought he might come off American Samoa via the military. Instead, he got a scholarship from the Cougars.

"The island is not a big place," Salave'a said. "In the past, that was the only way for them to experience the 'American Dream.' Now, there is something really driving the kids down there. There is this opportunity to get an education, mainly through American football."

The ultimate key to future success in recruiting American Samoa, Salave'a said, may actually lie with the families and educational system on the island.

"The kids are motivated," Salave'a said. "It's a matter of getting the right grades and courses so they transfer over (to be admitted to mainland universities)." Grading and classes are done differently on the island, Salave'a said, than in mainland high schools. One step in the right direction, the coach admits, would be to better align the educational systems on the island with those of the continent.

Still, even under the current systems, positive things can happen. Smart's Field House 100, among others, is helping. "We hope that this is a connection that continues to grow," said Oregon State coach Mike Riley, who signed two-star defensive end Rommel Mageo off the island for this class. "The world has gotten smaller that way. There are some people over there that are aiding the ability of coaches to watch these guys. We're proud to be a part of that process." Even Salave'a, along with other current and former NFL players, are trying to do their part to give kids from American Samoa better chances going forward. The Joe Salave'a Youth Foundation conducted football clinics for four years on the island.

"It's all about paying it forward," said Salave'a, who had to stop the program after his mother got cancer and he needed to be closer to her on a more regular basis. "If I can get one or two kids to realize their potential ?"


Going forward, understanding the history and culture of American Samoa will play a large role in how successful college programs are in their recruiting efforts there.

"It's a living culture through responsibilities," Salave'a says. "There's a lot of carryover. You get a warrior mindset. But they are friendly, respectful kids.

"That's what you like in a ball player. It's intriguing to me, the development of the game, from when I was growing up to now."

Because children are raised to speak when spoken to, and to be respectful of their elders, Salave'a says, there also is a responsibility that comes with recruiting these kids.

"Trust is a key," Salave'a said. "You cannot fly down there and talk them up, raise the expectation, and then not sign a kid. You have to be truthful. All their parents want to know is, who is going to take care of my kid (once on a college campus)."

Riley and the Oregon State staff are aware of that responsibility, as well.

"That's one of the reasons I went over there," Riley said. "Not only to recruit guys, but to meet people, to make the connection so that when we are recruiting future guys they feel more and more comfortable with where they are sending their kids."

Those athletes that do get the opportunity have shown a disproportionate amount of success for a place so small.

There are the 11 former NFL players born there that include Thompson, Salave'a and Mosi Tatupu. And there are the six current pros from the island.

Recent indications are that Samoans (not only from American Samoa) are anywhere from 40 to 56 times more likely to play in the NFL than a non-Samoan. Even CBS' 60 Minutes did a story on the football culture contained on the tiny Polynesian island.

"People are not used to having such a small, little place with the numbers and success that they (American Samoa) are having," Salave'a said.

With a bigger and even more rapid influx of talent possibly coming, perhaps those people better get used to it.

Rick Pitino named his new horses after Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng

 By Steve DelVecchio April 20, 2012 - Posted in College Basketball

Most of us are familiar with Rick Pitino the championship-winning college basketball coach, but very few of us know Rick Pitino the horse enthusiast. Two of Pitino’s horses are currently being trained by thoroughbred trainer Randy Bradshaw, and he recently asked the Louisville coach for help in naming the pair of two-year-old colts. Natually, Pitino named them after his players.

“The Bellamy Road colt was a spectacular big, big colt,” Pitino said according to the Courier-Journal. “He was lanky, had great potential and goes the distance. I said I got the perfect name for him. I said ‘Gorgui.’”

Of course, Pitino is referring to his 6-foot-11 big man, Gorgui Dieng. He led the team in rebounds and set a school record for blocked shots in a single season. It sounds like he’s deserving of the honor, but don’t worry — Pitino didn’t forget about his back court.

“(The second horse is) very, very quick — has a great first step, so to speak,” Pitino explained. “I said I got the perfect name there, too.”

Pitino named the other horse “Siva,” after guard Peyton Siva. As you know, the Cardinals got hot at the right time last season and charged their way all the way to a Final Four appearance. Many great players have played under Pitino, but obviously this crew left a lasting impression. You don’t just going throwing names at your horses unless they mean something.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

5 Reasons Why Marcus Mariota Will Be the Starting QB for the Oregon Ducks

Quiet Confidence

When you listen to Marcus Mariota talk about spring practices at Oregon, you just feel the confidence emanating from him. It's not a noisy, rah-rah kind of confidence, but more of a quiet certainty.

One gets the feeling that Mariota truly believes that the competition between him and Bryan Bennett is even. He also understands that self-confidence is part of the position. If you don't believe in yourself, how can you expect your team to believe in you?

Mr. Penkala said, "It is Bennett's job to lose." I don't believe that's accurate, and I don't think Marcus Mariota believes it, either.

Impressive Physical Attributes 

Speed is important in an Oregon quarterback.

Mr. Penkala notes Bryan Bennett's speed as a reason he will win the job. I would argue that Mariota is just as fast as Bennett, if not faster.

But don't take my word for it; senior wide receiver Justin Hoffman said about Mariota: "He's pretty quick."

On his Oregon Ducks football roster bio, it says that Mariota won the camp's "Fastest Man" award at the 2010 National Underclassman Combine. He was clocked 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NUC camp.

I think the dude can move.

Quick Learner

Mr. Penkala cites Bryan Bennett's experience as a reason for starting. However, Chip Kelly has said that Marcus Mariota is a quick learner. Many of Mariota's teammates have said that he has picked up the offense quickly.

Mariota himself says that it took him one week in last year's fall camp to learn the offense. He played in an offense similar to Oregon’s while in high school. Mariota says that his grasp of the quarterback’s responsibilities, “from the zone read to the pass concepts, it’s all been pretty good."

I would also argue that experience didn't do Nate Costa much good when along came gangly, inexperienced Darron Thomas.

Don't bet for a minute that both Bennett and Mariota don't understand that when Chip Kelly says every position is open, he means every position is open.

Who Is the Team Behind?

Of course, we can't know the answer to this question without getting inside the heads of his teammates, but there have been some clues in after-practice player interviews.

The receivers, for the most part, have been generous in their praise of both quarterbacks. But several WRs have said that Bennett throws the ball hard, while Mariota has more finesse. Devon Blackmon in a video interview with Eugene's Register-Guard said that Mariota's ball "is easier to catch."

Several teammates have mentioned Mariota's athletic abilities. It feels as if there is more warmth heaped on him than on Bennett.

When you watch Mariota on video, you are struck by what a calm, easygoing manner he has. When I compare the two side by side, I would trust Mariota more in the heat of battle, and I think his teammates might do the same.

Without being in the locker room and seeing which of the two QBs commands more respect, however, this is all speculation on my part. And, while it's not a popularity contest, leadership is a quality that is very hard to define, but absolutely crucial in the QB role.


OK, this is probably where I lose all credibility, but Mariota just looks like an Oregon quarterback to me (that's Mariota on the right, working out with Darron Thomas.)

When you watch him on film, he has both great speed and great touch, and it looks as if it all comes very naturally to him. Nothing in his movement looks forced. His footwork is good, and his posture is correct.

He also has a dignity about him, and you somehow know that there isn't any panic in this kid.

Mr. Penkala said that Bryan Bennett "has his team behind him." Maybe that's true—I would have no way of knowing that for certain. But I do know that if Mariota turns out to by the guy, he will have his team behind him in a heartbeat.

Will he pull off Darron Thomas' youth-over-experience ploy and win the coveted starting QB job? I'm guessing that we will know the answer to this question about 12:30pm on Saturday, Sept. 1.

Rey Maualuga Interview

Troy Polamalu Gets His Hair Cut

Troy Polamalu is known for two things - his hard hits and his long hair.

So when this Jackass-style video surfaced of the Steeler star's locks getting shaved, it quickly became an Internet hit and was even aired on ESPN.

The question is: is it an authentic prank or was it staged? The video shows clippers held by someone, apparently a teammate, approach Polamalu from behind and buzz off a portion of his flowing locks (insured last year for $1 million) all the way to the scalp.

Polamalu Prank

The Steelers star first laughs it off, then becomes irate when he realized what happened. The prankster and a few others erupt in laughter.

But the perfectly shaved rectangle on Polamalu's head seems a little too perfect considering the quick swipe of the perpetrator.

Polamalu's hair has been targeted by an NFL player before - but that was during a game. The Chiefs' Larry Johnson tackled Polamalu by the hair during a 49-yard interception return in a 2006 game.

The five-time Pro Bowl player wears his hair long as a tribute to his Samoan heritage.

Dolphins Koa Misi pleads not guilty Linebacker arrested last month


Miami Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi appeared in a Santa Barbara, California court on Friday to plead not guilty to felony charges that included battery and residential burglary.

Misi was arrested at his Weston home in March, nearly a year after the alleged crimes occurred during an incident outside an apartment in the California coastal town.

According to Misi's attorney, Adam Braun, the player was walking with friends when several people on an apartment balcony began shouting at the group. Braun said that threats and vulgarities were aimed at Misi's group, which included two women, prompting the 25-year-old to confront the party on the balcony.

Witnesses say the linebacker punched through the wooden door of the apartment and then hit a 19-year-old in the eye.

A warrant for Misi's arrest was issued after the incident but it took nearly a year to track him down despite the former University of Utah football star being a 2010 Dolphins draft pick.

Braun said that his client is eager to tell his side of the story but that now was not the time.

Misi was released on $10,000 bail and a preliminary hearing is set for May 31.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Football: Su'a Cravens is making college choice on June 6

April 18, 2012 | 2:13 pm

Standout defensive player Su'a Cravens of Vista Murrieta announced on Twitter that he's going to make his college decision on June 6.

That's a bit of a surprise, since Cravens said he didn't want to rush things and wanted to be certain.

That probably means USC is in good position to land Cravens, though other schools are trying and he intends to take some unofficial visits.

Cravens said in a text, "There's a handful of schools where I know they're a great fit for me and I don't want to keep dragging on this process. And I don't want to hold up scholarships for other kids."

-- Eric Sondheimer

Happy Birthday to Troy Polamalu, already one of the greatest Steelers of all-time. He turns 31 years old today.

Roy Helu, His Father, And Rugby

If you ask a football player what pro his game most resembles, you sometimes get some pretty outlandish answers. A guy named Quinn Porter spent about thirty seconds on the Redskins practice squad, but he assured me that, comparison-wise, “I’m like an Emmitt-slash-Jim. I could be a Barry, or a Reggie.” (That would be Emmitt Smith, Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, and Reggie Bush, I presumed at the time.)

But when Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro asked newly-drafted Redskins running back Roy Helu the comparison question on ESPN980 this afternoon, they got an answer I had never heard before.

“No one in particular,” Helu said. “As a youngster, I watched film on my dad — everyone always praised my dad for being a very good rugby player. He played on the U.S. national team and was the captain for that squad, and I really admired him and his running style.”

That sounded like a fascinating story, and it turns out that it is — fascinating enough, at least, for David Ubben to have written it for Some excerpts….

There are six Helu children, but until Roy Jr. became the fourth, Roy Sr. was a father to all girls. A rugby player himself, Helu Sr. took every opportunity to nurture the athletic talent obvious in his son.

Most babies are beginning to walk by their first birthday. Roy Jr. was running and dancing at his first birthday party. Don’t worry, there’s video of it somewhere. At eight, a Pop Warner coach told the Helus that Roy Jr.’s speed was an uncoachable gift.

Father and son would run the hills around the family’s Bay Area home in hopes that he’d only get faster. Helu Sr. is no football coach, but he knows how to run with a ball in his hand.

“I help him with vision and cutting,” he says.

And, later in the piece:

Some lessons from the rugby pitch don’t get lost in translation.

“The easiest running path is when you see the hole, hit it and hit it hard,” Helu Sr. told his son.

It’s a fascinating profile of a father-son relationship, and an interesting way to learn about football. Just in case you’re concerned, though, Helu did offer a more traditional follow-up answer to Loverro and Sheehan:

“In college,” he said, “I watched film on Darren McFadden my freshman year and sophomore year, of the way he ran and got north and south and didn’t make as much moves if he was between the tackles.”

Not as interesting as the rugby thing, but it still sounds pretty good to me.

Washington Redskins’ Roy Helu getting hang of the game – NFL News

Washington Redskins’ running back, Roy Helu, has only played one National Football League (NFL) season and after finishing his rookie year, he thinks that he is understating the league methods pretty well.

He is participating in the team’s offseason workout programme and thinks that last season really helped him develop the sense of the game.

Helu said:

“After going through a season, you have a mental picture of what it takes, and what your coach wants through the season. This is new to me right now, but coming back better requires an emphasis on execution and how our coaches want us to play.”

Helu was selected by the Redskins in the last NFL drafts. In his rookie year, he started five games while playing 15 in which he recorded 640 yards on 151 attempts and scored two touchdowns.

His performance was satisfactory, but he could not improve his record further owing to a leg injury that prevented him from starting more games.

During the offseason, he is aiming to strengthen his legs so he could get more starts in the next season. He commented:

“It was a process, but patience, perseverance, and just peace helped me get through it. I didn’t have to push it to get better, and I feel like I’m back to where I need to be to start.”

Meanwhile, Redskins’ linebacker, London Fletcher, who has recently received a new contract from the team after he became a free agent and explored different options in the open market, is expected to play a crucial role in the team’s development in the next season.

Redskins finished the last season after winning only five games and they were placed at the bottom of the National Football League (NFL) East Division. They have got a second overall pick in the upcoming drafts and they are expected to select a quarterback.

Apart from grooming the young talent and hiring new prospects through the drafts, the management thinks that the role of senior players like Fletcher will be vital in the team’s success.

Fletcher, 36, played his last five seasons with the Redskins and is well aware of his team’s condition. With so many activities in the offseason, Redskins are expected to come out strong in the next season and display a relatively better game-play.

Domata Peko Motor pool

For Domata Peko, it all started with the draft. His draft. The 2006 draft. When he figured he didn't have to start paying attention until the sixth round.

But when then-Bengals defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan phoned in the fourth to tell him he was Cincinnati's kind of nose man, Peko knew who to thank.

Domata Peko Jr.

"I don't think I'd be in the league if I hadn't had my son my senior year in college," Peko recalls. "That was a big motivation to me. The coaches even told me that last season at Michigan State, 'what happened to you your senior year? You're a totally different person.' I said, 'I had my kid. I have to feed him.' "

That's a peek into the delivery process as the Bengals mull the kids up front in the draft. And it could be on display as early as next Thursday's first round when a board teeming with defensive line prospects goes live.

The biggest quality head coach Marvin Lewis eyes in a defensive lineman playing a position cloudy with the vagaries of age, growth and scheme, is the very tangible concept of playing with a high motor.

Oh, he needs plenty of other stuff, too. For instance, Peko had the requisite athleticism and quickness. But while other teams weren't so quick to jump on a junior college player with just two years of Division I experience and wouldn't turn 22 until late in his rookie year, the Bengals loved the motor and it has given them one of the league's most effective, reliable and durable nose tackles.

Peko is coming off a season in which only Cleveland's Ahtyba Rubin had more tackles among NFL interior players, according to And Rubin played nearly 300 more snaps (945-660), according to Peko has only missed five games in his career with an arthroscopic knee surgery, but he came back about 30 days later to start the 2009 Wild Card game and begin his current streak of 34 straight starts.

And as another draft lurches close, the motor is running as high as ever. Straight off a six-week sojourn at the Ignition workout facility in Blue Ash, Ohio, Peko showed up this week at the Bengals voluntary conditioning program at Paul Brown Stadium poised to be in the best shape of his career.


The senior-year motor fueled his term as the de facto defensive coordinator during last season's lockout, when Peko had extra time in the weight room to set career highs. He's headed there again after his legs dead-lifted his personal-best 600 pounds last week for Ignition chief Clif Marshall.

Marshall, a disciple of Bengals strength coach Chip Morton who helps once a week during the club's conditioning program, says Peko is already lifting about 385 pounds above his head and says after he finishes Morton's program this spring he should be ready to break another personal best when he locks his elbows with more than 405 pounds over his head.

"Here's a young guy who came out of junior college and was real young when he came into the league and wasn't one of the strongest guys," Marshall says. "Now he's strong and getting stronger."

The motor is revved up about the season. Peko got in one of the early tweets about the schedule Tuesday night celebrating the three prime-time games and he thinks the Sept. 10 opener on Monday night in Baltimore is a great rallying point for a young team trying to go to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons with an emerging nucleus of players from the last three drafts sprinkled with veteran role players.

"I'm excited; finally we get some prime-time games around here," Peko says. "It gives other people a chance to see what we're really about. A lot of people on the West Coast don't get a chance to see our games. There's no other way to start. That's a big game. That's a huge game for us. We've got our eyes set to that date. We're going to be putting a big X on the calendar for that."

What Peko thinks the Bengals are about is what he calls a great mix of youth and experience.

"You need the older guys to keep things in order," he says. "I'm excited about where this team is going and the way ownership took charge of this offseason making some moves for us. We picked up two really good corners. Jason Allen is a big player and (Terence) Newman has gone to some Pro Bowls.

"We've got two good guards. Two good defensive ends that should help with the departure of (Jon) Fanene and (Frostee) Rucker (via free agency). They're going to be missed, but the show must go on."

Even though Fanene came into the NFL a year before Peko and Rucker came in a round before, they looked to Peko for mentoring and he says he'll miss them and the Bengals are going to have a big challenge matching the production of last year's eight-man line rotation. Former first-round picks Jamaal Anderson and Derrick Harvey, just 26 and 25, respectively, are penciled in as the replacements.

"We just have to build our chemistry on the field with them," Peko said. "That's the one thing we had on the D-line last year was good chemistry with each other. We knew each other's strength and we were able to able to feed off each other. It's something we'll have to build with the new guys.

"The thing with Fanene is that when he came in, he played like a starter. He filled the gap and didn't miss a beat. It will be cool. The new guys aren't rookies or first-year guys. They have some years in the league. That's the one thing you can't teach young guys is experience. That's something they've got and we've got to use it to the fullest."

Another thing you can't teach: Mike Zimmer's defense without Mike Zimmer. Peko did admirably during the lockout's voluntary voluntaries when he ran the defensive looks and drills, but Tuesday's first classroom session reminded him what everybody was missing last spring.

"We're getting a little more time in the classroom with Coach Zimmer," Peko says. "Straight ahead. No welcome back. Nothing. Just right back to football. We were watching film of stuff we did last year and he was correcting us and that's what we didn’t have last year. We didn't have coaches yelling at us because they couldn't but now you know we have Zimmer coaching us up in the classroom. That will help out a lot. We were missing all that. That's a big part of the football season."

No doubt Zimmer is going to delve into the autopsy of the last six games, when the run defense that had been so good earlier in the year imploded. Peko has yet to look at that stretch, but he remembers full well Zimmer upbraiding the defense late in the year for not tackling and getting off blocks too early in leaving the gaps for which they were responsible.

"It was a lot of things," Peko says.

Some reasons?

The absence of one of the best run support corners in the NFL, Leon Hall, caught up to the Bengals. So did the gimpy knee of safety Chris Crocker and the mangled ankle of middle linebacker Rey Maualuga. And the ankle that put run-stopping tackle Pat Sims on injured reserve Dec. 7 forced the Bengals to put Fanene and Rucker inside more on early downs and they wore down.

But it's a new year. Hall says he'll be back in time for camp. Allen and Newman like to play Zimmer's physical game. Sims and Maualuga say they're healthy and the Bengals will start out replacing the 197-pound Crocker with the 235-pound Taylor Mays.

And the defense is coming off a year the Bengals celebrated their first defensive lineman being named to the Pro Bowl since Tim Krumrie in 1988 when tackle Geno Atkins got the nod. Atkins is another fourth-round find with a flare ignited by a motor and, maybe not so coincidentally, has become close with Peko.

They bonded during the lockout at Ignition and kept it going his year when they showed up March 1 with Maualuga and about 10 others. If Peko finds out you're staying around Cincinnati during the offseason, he'll reach out and get you up to Ignition. That's what he did with wide receiver Brandon Tate.

But Peko says that it is the 24-year-Atkins that has inspired him.

"I want to go to Hawaii one day. That's one of my goals before I'm done. I want to go to the Pro Bowl with Geno," Peko says. "We're motivating each other. I tell him, 'I want to go there with you.' He's a great guy. He's a professional. He works his tail off. It's good to have someone like that playing next to you on the line."

The other goal Peko has this year is five sacks. A big number for a guy with 7.5 in his career who rarely plays third down.

"I want to get better rushing the passer," he says. "I love playing the run. That's my thing. I have a niche for getting running backs down, playing the run tough. But I want to try and get to Hawaii one day."

It's nice to know six years later the motor is still purring. It may serve a prospect well next week who doesn't have much hope this week.

"I was super stoked when the Bengals called me," Peko says. "I only had two interviews at the combine. One with the Bengals and one with the Cowboys. People were telling me the sixth round."

The switch is on.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ex-Oregon QB Masoli signs with CFL’s Edmonton Eskimo

Posted by Adam Jude

Former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli has signed with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League, the club announced Tuesday.

Terms of the deal were not released.

Masoli, 23, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Francisco 49ers in 2011. He attended the 49ers camp before being released.

Masoli then spent the last three games in 2011 with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League, where he passed for more than 800 yards.

"Jeremiah's skill set is ideal for the Canadian game, but it takes time and tremendous effort for young quarterbacks to develop," Eskimo GM Eric Tillman said in a statement. "He is blessed to have a superb role model on and off the field in (veteran quarterback) Kerry Joseph, and if he embraces the same characteristics that have defined Kerry's career, Jeremiah has a chance to eventually become a quality quarterback in our league."

A two-year starter at Oregon, Masoli led the Ducks to a Holiday Bowl win in 2008 and a Pac-10 championship in 2009.

But he was suspended in March 2010 following a guilty plea on burglary charges, then dismissed that summer by Oregon coach Chip Kelly following a citation for marijuana possession.

He played his final college season at Mississippi.