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Cincinnati Reds: Numbers behind Joey Votto’s amazing 2017 season

Published: Monday, October 02, 2017 @ 3:47 PM

Who is Joey Votto: Ten facts about Reds first baseman

Joey Votto’s season is over, but the Cincinnati Reds first baseman’s 2017 camptain will be remembered for a long time. 

Let us count the ways… 

  • The 34-year-old played all 162 games for the second time in his career and failed to get on base in only 12 of those appearances. In 107 games, he got on base at least twice. 
  • He reached base a major-league-high 321 times, breaking his own team record by two and leading Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon (second in the NL) by 33. 
  • Votto also led the majors in on-base percentage (.454), walks (134), intentional walks (20), and walk/strikeout ratio while batting .320 with 36 homers and 100 RBIs. 
  • The five-time All-Star became the first player in Reds history with at least 100 runs, 100 RBI, 300 total bases and 300 times on base. 

RELATED: Votto reveals the secret to his latest long run of success for the Reds

  • Votto’s fourth season with an OPS of at least 1.000 sets a club record. 
  • He led the NL in on-base percentage for the sixth time and is the active leader in that stat according to He only trails Mike Trout in active OPS. 
  • Votto walked 26 more times than last season (108) while also cutting his strikeouts drastically from 120 to 83. 

RELATED: Check out what Reds All-Star did for 6-year-old cancer patient

Knowing all that, is it any wonder he called 2017 the best season of his career

"I wanted this to be my piece de resistance,” he told on the last day of the season. “I wanted this to be my work of art. I felt like shrinking strikeouts, keeping the walks, competing on a daily basis, playing every day, improving my defense. I felt this was definitely the best year of my career."

The Canadian even got a few influential people talking about him as an MVP candidate, as unlikely as winning it on a last-place team might be

Michigan State recruiting: Predicting Spartans’ signing class on defense

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 7:06 AM

Michigan State has the nation’s No. 22 recruiting class and the fifth-best in the Big Ten, per the 247Sports composite rankings. The Spartans have commitments from 20 prospects, the latest coming from 3-star athlete La’Darius Jeffersonon Saturday.

Coach Mark Dantonio and his staff have little room for more prospects to fill out the class. How will the Spartans complete their class on defense? Here are Land of 10’s latest projections:

* indicates current commitment

Defensive end:  Parks Gissinger*

The son of a former NFL offensive lineman and successful businessman, Parks Gissinger gets it done in the classroom and on the field. The 3-star Chaminade (West Hills, Calif.) standout describes himself as a relentless player who will ask for a quick rest if he doesn’t have the energy to play 100 percent. He doesn’t like to take off a single down and loves to get after quarterbacks.

Defensive end: Zachary Slade*

Of of the 3-star Olentangy (Lewis Center, Ohio) twins to commit to the Spartans in late June, Zachary Slade is the lighter of the two. At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, he projects to play out on the edge. Michigan State has made a killing recently with linemen from the Columbus area, both on offense and defense. Slade and his brother are next up.

Defensive line:  Jacob Slade*

At 6-4, 255 pounds, Jacob Slade could end up at defensive end or tackle. He appears more likely to play inside, though. He was the first of the twins to pick up a Michigan State offer after their performances at the Spartans elite camp. Once his brother landed an offer, they committed together within days.

Defensive tackle: Jackson Cravens

Michigan State will hope its familial connection to Jackson Cravens will lead to a commitment from the 3-star Timpview (Provo, Utah) defensive tackle. His cousin, second-year Spartans player Mufi Hill-Hunt, hosted him for his official visit in September. Cravens has since taken more visits and considered all his options. Michigan State doesn’t look like the favorite quite yet, but Cravens appears the most likely defensive line target to end up in East Lansing right now.

Linebacker:  Jeslord Boateng*

Jeslord Boateng patiently awaited an offer from Michigan State after having been in contact with the staff for a long time. Once the 3-star Dublin (Ohio) Coffman outside linebacker got it in May, he set up a visit for June. Once he got on campus and liked what he saw, he committed the following day. After that, he worked to reel in a commitment from the next player on this list.

Linebacker:  Chase Kline*

Chase Kline got plenty of love from the Michigan State coaches during the recruiting process, but what really took him aback was how his fellow linebacker commits wanted him so badly, even though he would challenge them for playing time. The 3-star Chardon (Ohio) native feels he can play any linebacker spot, but will most likely get his start on the outside.

Linebacker:  Edward Warinner*

Edward Warinner gives Michigan State yet another Columbus-area commitment. The 3-star Olentangy Liberty (Powell, Ohio) star and son of Minnesota offensive line coach Ed Warinner has long loved the Spartans and became a member of the class in April. He might have committed even sooner, but he needed to recover from a torn ACL and show the staff what he could do.

Cornerback:  Chris Jackson*

Early in high school, 3-star recruit Chris Jackson thought basketball might be his future. But once a Lassiter (Marietta, Ga.) assistant recruited and groomed him to play cornerback, he caught on quickly. His freakish athleticism certainly has helped. He also possesses great length, making him an intriguing prospect with which the Spartans can work.

Cornerback:  Davion Williams*

Davion Williams could still hypothetically make basketball his future. He rates higher in the 247Sports composite as a guard than as a cornerback. Nevertheless, he committed to Michigan State’s football program hours after competing at its elite camp. At 6-2 with speed and agility, he’s an imposing figure for wide receivers who go against him.

Cornerback:  Kalon Gervin*

Last month our projection had Kalon Gervin committing to Michigan State. Then the 4-star Detroit Cass Tech cornerback made it happen. It was the culmination of a long, steady recruitment that remained active even during Gervin’s commitment to Notre Dame. When he pledged to Michigan State, he became the Spartans’ highest-rated recruit, at No. 177 in the nation.

Defensive back:  Michael Dowell*

Very few people were shocked to see Michael Dowell commit to Michigan State. His brothers, Andrew and David, are in their third seasons with the Spartans. Once the 3-star recruit arrives, he likely will follow David’s path and play at safety or find his calling at cornerback. He has the versatility to do both, as does the final player on the list.

Defensive back:  Xavier Henderson*

He’s the last player listed, but Xavier Henderson became the first 2018 prospect to commit to Michigan State when he made his pledge in September 2016. He would be the lone commit until January. What a way to start things, as Henderson is a 4-star prospect capable of playing a handful of positions on both sides of the ball. He’ll almost certainly end up in the secondary, but whether at cornerback or safety remains to be seen.

2 Oklahoma stars projected as NFL first rounders; more honors for Baker Mayfield

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 7:02 AM

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            draft-mock draft

Welcome to the Thursday edition of our Oklahoma DieHards morning roundup, where we take you through all the biggest headlines around Oklahoma athletics.

First-round status

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay believes two Oklahoma players might go in the first round in his most recent 2018 NFL mock draft.

McShay projects Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield to go to the Los Angeles Chargers with the No. 19 overall pick. This would give Mayfield an opportunity to learn for a year or two behind star quarterback Phillip Rivers.

He also thinks left tackle Orlando Brown will go to the Carolina Panthers at No. 25. Carolina has good players at left tackle, but McShay believes Brown could move over to right tackle at the next level.

Awards keep rolling

Mayfield earned yet another national honor. CBS Sports announced that Mayfield is its player of the year. He beat out a litany of other contenders for the publication-wide honor.

Mayfield put together one of the best seasons in Sooners history. The senior quarterback threw for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns for the 12-1 Sooners, and helped lead them to a Big 12 championship and College Football Playoff.

Other headlines from around the program

  • ESPN’s Jake Trotter rated the best games in college football this season, and three of the 20 games featured Oklahoma. No. 4 was Iowa State upsetting Oklahoma, No. 7 was Oklahoma topping Oklahoma State and No. 14 was Oklahoma coming back against Texas.
  • Linebacker Kenneth Murray and wide receiver CeeDee Lamb were both named freshman All-Americans by 247Sports. Lamb was also a freshman All-American by ESPN.
  • DieHards analyst John Shinn dropped his weekly mailbag on Wednesday, where he talked about projections for the early signing period.

Alyssa Enneking earns All-America

Oklahoma outside hitter Alyssa Enneking earned honorable mention All-America honors from the AVCA, becoming the eighth Sooner since 2010 to be named an All-American. She averaged a Big 12-best 4.20 kills per set and posted 16 double-doubles.

Gymnastics tops list

Oklahoma women’s gymnastics is ranked No. 1 in the preseason NACGC poll after receiving 33 of the 50 first-place votes in the preseason poll. Florida at No. 2 and LSU at No. 3 also earned first-place votes from voters.

The gymnastics team ranks among Oklahoma’s most impressive. Oklahoma is the defending national champions, and it’s the third straight season the Sooners open at No. 1 in the poll and eighth straight year in the top five.

What they’re saying on Twitter

Defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux

Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb

Former linebacker Eric Striker

Miss a recent edition of the morning roundup? Check out all of our previous editions here. 

The post 2 Oklahoma stars projected as NFL first rounders; more honors for Baker Mayfield appeared first on Diehards.

Coaching carousel wreaks havoc on LSU’s offensive line

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 7:01 AM

LSU football is in the news every day, and  the Bayou Bengal Briefing is here to keep you updated with the latest headlines five mornings a week. Join us every Monday through Friday for the biggest news on Tigers football, recruiting, baseball and more. Enjoy!

New man on the line

Football Scoop reported Wednesday evening that BYU is expected to hire LSU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes as its next offensive coordinator. The move isn’t completely unexpected. Talk of Grimes leaving Baton Rouge for Provo has been circulating for a week or so, and Grimes’ time as BYU’s offensive line coach from 2004-06 made him a natural fit to be the Cougars’ next coordinator.

But losing Grimes affects LSU in more than one way. The most obvious one is recruiting.

The Tigers have four offensive linemen committed for 2018, including top-rated JUCO tackle Badara Traore and Louisiana’s top O-lineman in Cameron Wire. Holding onto those commitments will be huge for LSU, especially given the way LSU’s offensive line depth was ravaged leading into the 2017 season.

On top of this, LSU is going to have to recruit back three of its starting offensive linemen. Center Will Clapp, guard Garrett Brumfield and tackle Toby Weathersby are all draft eligible. Losing a position coach could easily be a swaying factor for any of those three players deciding to stay or go.

Is everything going to break down because of Grimes’ departure? No. Of course not. But LSU has a lot to manage if Grimes leaves. That much is obvious.

All that said …

Less than an hour after the Grimes news broke, Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman reported the Tigers will replace Grimes with Los Angeles Chargers offensive line coach James Cregg.

Cregg has a history with Ed Orgeron. The two worked together from 2009-13 at Tennessee and USC. As defensive line coach at both of those places, Orgeron should be intimately familiar with the way Cregg coaches his linemen. While at USC, Cregg developed future top-10 NFL Draft picks Matt Kalil and Tyron Smith.

With that sort of pedigree, Cregg will arrive at LSU with a reputation as a talented identified and developer of talent. On top of that, Cregg is proving his ability with the Chargers this season. No NFL team has allowed fewer sacks in 2017 than the Chargers’ 15.

Elsewhere in departure news

Grimes wasn’t the only fixture on LSU’s staff to leave Wednesday. The Tigers lost general manager Austin Thomas to Tennessee in the morning, losing a figure who was equal parts recruiting coordinator and front office manager.

Thomas was instrumental in getting freshmen JaCoby Stevens and Jacob Phillips to LSU last season, serving as LSU’s recruiter in place of defensive line coach Pete Jenkins. With Jenkins retiring after this season, the Tigers likely won’t need a person in Thomas’ role to be a primary recruiter anymore. That should make this loss slightly more palatable.

But make no mistake: Thomas departing for Tennessee leaves a huge void in LSU’s personnel. Orgeron relied on Thomas to organize a lot of the team’s recruiting plans. For the next two weeks leading into the early signing period, coordinating plans is going to be a massive task. And it’ll be up to a patchwork group to make it happen.

Will they stay or will they go?

A handful of LSU football players spoke to the media Wednesday about their odds of declaring for the 2018 NFL Draft. In case you missed it, here are their responses:

  • Cornerback Donte Jackson gave a lengthy response, explaining what it’ll take for him to leave early.
  • Offensive tackle Toby Weathersby said he’s undecided and will make the decision after the bowl game.
  • Center Will Clapp thought reporters were asking about a military draft.

In LSU basketball news

The LSU basketball team earned its second top-50 win Wednesday night, defeating Houston 80-77 A block from freshman guard Tremont Waters with less than 10 seconds remaining sealed the win.

Along with the Tigers’ victory against Michigan in Maui, this gives Will Wade’s 6-2 LSU squad two quality nonconference victories. LSU isn’t back to its glory days yet. There’s still some work to do. But this is a win worth celebrating, and a definite step in the right direction.

Just watch this block and try not to be impressed.

Tweet of the day

Redshirting defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko knows what recruits want to hear.

If that’s not a pitch to future athletes, I don’t know what is: Come to LSU, you’ll eat like a king!

Today in made-up holidays

According to the folks at, Dec. 14 is “ National Alabama Day.”

You know what? We don’t have to celebrate this one. Have a good day, y’all.

Miss a previous edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing? Find every one of SEC Country’s daily LSU football columns  right here.

ESPN: Florida football’s Hail Mary-finish against Tennessee one of the best games of 2017

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 6:11 AM

florida gators-florida football-tyrie cleveland-best game

Florida Gators football is the No. 1 topic in Good Morning, Gators every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across the Gators sports world. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Florida football, recruiting, basketball and more.

Florida-Tennessee a top-20 game from 2017

The Florida Gators football season overall was one to forget in 2017, but according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter, at least one game will stand out among the best of college football. Trotter ranked the Gators’ 26-20 win over Tennessee on Sept. 16 as the 13th-best game of the 2017 regular season. His explanation:

An otherwise unwatchable matchup delivered an incredible finish, as Gators QB Feleipe Franks unleashed a 63-yard TD over the top of the Tennessee defense as time expired. The sloppy play on both sides was a harbinger, as Vols coach Butch Jones and Florida’s Jim McElwain would be fired before the end of the season.

Recruiting roundup

In other Florida football news

Volleyball plays Stanford for spot in national championship

The No. 2-seed Gators volleyball team plays Stanford in the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday in Kansas City, Mo. First serve is set for 9 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN.

On Wednesday, five Florida players earned AVCA All-America honors, with senior middle blocker Rhamat Allhasan earning a coveted first-team spot.

Let’s keep talking

Want to keep the conversation going? Hop over to our free Florida message board. Sign up now and join the discussion here.

What they’re saying on Twitter

Linebacker Kylan Johnson:

Defensive back Quincy Lenton:

Tight end Kemore Gamble:

Miss a previous edition of Good Morning, Gators? Get caught up here.

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