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Cleveland Browns fire executive VP Sashi Brown

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 10:56 AM

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 06:  (L-R) NFL coach Hue Jackson,  Dee Haslam and Sashi Brown attend the 5th Annual NFL Honors at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 06: (L-R) NFL coach Hue Jackson, Dee Haslam and Sashi Brown attend the 5th Annual NFL Honors at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)(Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

The next Cleveland Browns reset began Thursday with the firing of executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown. 

ESPN was first to report the end for Brown, who was hired in January 2016 as part of a new front office group that has seen the team go 1-27. 

The Browns are 0-12 this season with four games left.  

Brown was hired from the Jacksonville Jaguars front office, where his responsibilities included contract negotiation, employment matters, insurance and risk management, intellectual property and licensing issues and litigation management according to the team’s website. 

This move led to immediate speculation about the job security of Paul DePodesta, the chief strategy officer who previously had worked in baseball, and head coach Hue Jackson. 

While confirming reports Brown had been fired, team owner Jimmy Haslam said Jackson will remain the team’s coach for 2018. 

Jackson was the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator before taking his current job in Cleveland. 

Wisconsin football: A look at how 2017 recruiting class fared on field

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 9:03 AM

Wisconsin is expected to sign most of its 2018 recruiting class during the new NCAA early signing period, which runs Dec. 20-22. And while it’s difficult to project just which prospects might earn immediate playing time, it’s a good bet that there will be on-field contributors from the class.

With that in mind, let’s look back at which members of the 2017 recruiting class earned the trust of coaches, stepped onto the field and performed well.

Wide receiver Danny Davis (Springfield, Ohio)

Danny Davis was a signing day surprise for Wisconsin when he picked the Badgers over West Virginia and Kentucky. He was one of two 4-star prospects in the class, along with offensive lineman Kayden Lyles. It became apparent during fall camp that Davis possessed a special skill set and would find his way into the receiver rotation.

Davis caught two long passes in the first three weeks. His first career catch was a 35-yard reception against Florida Atlantic. He followed up that play with an impressive 50-yard grab against BYU.

This season, Davis has amassed 21 catches for 362 yards and 2 touchdowns. He set a season high with 4 receptions for 74 yards against Iowa and then caught 5 passes for 41 yards against Minnesota. His big-play ability helped to separate him from other Badgers receivers. His 17.24 yards per reception is tops on the team, and he’ll be a major contributor in the future.

A look back:  Wisconsin WR Danny Davis possesses ‘uncommon’ skill set in breakout freshman season 

Running back Jonathan Taylor (Salem, N.J.)

What can be written about Jonathan Taylor that hasn’t already been done? Taylor produced one of the most amazing seasons by a freshman in college football history, rising from potential fifth-string tailback during fall camp into a starting role.

Taylor impressed teammates and coaches during a scrimmage two weeks before Wisconsin’s season opener, when he broke a 70-yard touchdown run against the No. 1 defense. He continued to excel and became a starter in Week 2 against Florida Atlantic after Bradrick Shaw sustained a right leg injury in the opener. Taylor rushed for 223 yards with 3 touchdowns and never surrendered the starting job.

Taylor set a record for Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors, earning the accolade eight times. He has rushed for 1,847 yards with 13 touchdowns and was named one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award. Taylor’s rushing total ranks third in the FBS, and he finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

He is one of 10 Wisconsin players to finish in the top 10 in the Heisman Trophy voting and the only freshman. Taylor can break Adrian Peterson’s single-season FBS freshman rushing record with 79 yards rushing against Miami in the Orange Bowl.

A look back:  Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor ‘real deal’ as freshman phenom

Outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel (Council Bluffs, Iowa)

Andrew Van Ginkel is the only player in the 2017 recruiting class who wasn’t a freshman when he arrived at Wisconsin. He enrolled for spring practice after playing one college season each at FCS school South Dakota and Iowa Western Community College. Van Ginkel became the first junior college signee in Badgers coach Paul Chryst’s first three recruiting classes.

Wisconsin needed to replace T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel at outside linebacker, and Van Ginkel came along at the perfect time. He helped solidify the outside linebacker group as a reserve alongside starters Leon Jacobs and Garret Dooley. Van Ginkel has 36 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 5½ sacks and 2 forced fumbles.

He saved his best performance for the Big Ten Championship Game against Ohio State. In that game, Van Ginkel returned a J.T. Barrett interception 9 yards for a touchdown to tie the score at 7-7. He also forced and recovered a fumble that helped set up a field goal. Van Ginkel will be a key starter at outside linebacker as a senior next season.

A look back:  Wisconsin’s Andrew Van Ginkel flipping switch as ferocious pass rusher 

Long snapper Adam Bay (Mesa, Ariz.)

Long snappers don’t garner much attention, which is just the way Adam Bay likes it. In high school, Bay completed all 440 snaps he attempted at Desert Ridge High. He became the No. 1-ranked long snapper at the prestigious Kohl’s camp and earned an invitation to the 2017 Under Armour All-America Game.

Bay initially committed to Missouri, even though Wisconsin was his top school during his recruitment. Wisconsin offered a scholarship in its 2016 recruiting class to long snapper Jake Caesar. But when Caesar left the program last fall, an opportunity opened for Bay, and he has taken advantage of it as the Badgers’ starting long snapper for field goals and punts.

A look back:  Wisconsin long snapper Adam Bay has mastered his craft in anonymity

Quarterback Jack Coan (West Sayville, N.Y.)

Jack Coan’s decision to enroll early was a good one because he used Wisconsin’s 15 spring practices to get a leg up in the backup quarterback competition over Kare Lyles. Coan completed 10 of 17 passes for 121 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception in the spring game and continued that momentum in fall camp to win the backup job.

This season, Coan appeared in six games in relief of starter Alex Hornibrook during blowouts. He completed all 5 of his passing attempts for 36 yards. Given that Hornibrook has two more years of eligibility remaining after this season, it may be tough for Coan to leapfrog him on the depth chart. But Coan certainly is good enough to push for playing time. Wisconsin also can use Coan’s redshirt, which may be a wise move down the road when Hornibrook is gone.

A look back:  Wisconsin QB Jack Coan’s early enrollment decision paved way for him to earn backup job

Iowa: How Hawkeyes landed Spencer Petras days before signing day

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 9:03 AM

IOWA CITY, Iowa — When anyone came to watch Spencer Petras, they always told his coach the same two things.

The first was about his size. Petras stands 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, but it’s a little deceptive.

“You don’t realize how big he is until you are standing next to him or he’s standing next to somebody,” Marin Catholic (Calif.) football coach Mazi Moayed said.

The second was his arm. It’s stronger than current NFL starter Jared Goff’s was when he started for Moayed.

“When he is out there playing or warming up, the ball just explodes out of his hand,” Moayed said. “There is a wow factor to it, absolutely.”

There is a lot to like there, but what didn’t other programs see? How was Petras, a 4-star Rivals prospect, still available to commit to Iowa less than a week before the early signing period starts?

It was a combination of luck, perfect timing by Iowa and late development by the player.

Finding his first home

Petras was solid as a junior. His size and his arm strength were his best assets as he threw for 3,036 yards, 33 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

But Moayed is quick to point out that film isn’t as consistent as his senior-year highlights. His accuracy, footwork and decision-making were in need of some fine-tuning.

“He did a good job there,” Moayed said, “but he is three notches above where he was last year.”

It didn’t stop offers from coming in. Syracuse and Louisville offered in April. So did Cal. Oregon State extended an offer in May, and Moayed said nearly the entire Mountain West Conference did, too.

The Beavers and their coaching staff always stood out. So on May 29 he committed.

“I visited about two weeks ago, and Corvallis is a special place,” Petras told The Oregonian in May. “And the coaching staff, especially [former coach Gary] Andersen and [former quarterbacks coach Kevin] McGiven, was special. Everything was special about it, and I couldn’t be more excited to join the family.”

Becoming better

With his college decision out of the way, Petras threw himself into his craft. He focused on improving his accuracy.

His left elbow was a problem. He kept it locked out when he threw. “My mechanics were bad, but that can allow for inconsistencies because the angle of my elbow dictated the angle I threw at,” Petras said.

He knew a consistent release angle would help him throw it where he wanted more often. By the spring, keeping his elbow in felt like second nature.

This season, his completion percentage skyrocketed. He went from completing 56.3 percent of his passes as a junior to 63.6 percent as a senior.

His improvement wasn’t limited to short passes. Petras improved his touch downfield and wasn’t afraid to show it off. His senior-year Hudl highlight tape is almost 11 consecutive minutes of him chucking the ball to receivers on vertical routes.

“He will get it there,” Moayed said. “You see that on film sometimes. He sees the play we call is either covered, not there or he doesn’t like it, and he’s able to come back, our guys keep running, and he reaches them.”

Iowa enters his recruitment

Everything came together for nearly a perfect season. He threw for 4,157 yards, 50 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

His breakout season wasn’t accompanied by additional offers. Not at first. Petras stayed true to his Oregon State commitment until Andersen resigned in early October.

He then decided to re-evaluate his situation. Other programs, such as Iowa, soon started reaching out. Florida State inquired about Petras before coach Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M.

Petras didn’t know much about Iowa at first. The more research he did, the more he came around on the Hawkeyes. He liked the stability of coach Kirk Ferentz and Ferentz’s reputation.

Iowa quarterbacks coach Ken O’Keefe visited and offered Petras on Dec. 6. He took an official visit four days later.

Petras told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune that he was sticking with the Beavers on Tuesday.

But he walked away impressed with Iowa. He liked the culture around the team and the all-in mentality the coaches described as vital to a player’s success at Iowa.

He didn’t want to make a rash decision and let his emotions get the best of him. After praying for a few days and realizing his thoughts on Iowa weren’t fading, he committed on Thursday night.

“I needed a little bit of time to let everything settle down, and my original feelings were keeping with me so I decided to pull the trigger,” Petras said.

Iowa found its quarterback six days before the early signing period starts and a month before Petras arrives on campus. Soon enough, the Hawkeyes will have their chance to see if his size and arm really are the first things they notice.

Moayed is certain they will.

“It’s always the same with Spencer,” he said.

Elite 2019 SDE Marcus Stripling names Oklahoma in top 8

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 8:36 AM

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One of the nation’s top 2019 talents began to trim the fat in his recruitment on Friday evening, as Houston (Texas) Mayde Creek strong-side defensive end Marcus Stripling cut his list of options down to eight schools.

Following his cut, Oklahoma remained in the mix, along with LSU, Alabama, UCLA, Texas A&M, Ohio State, Florida and Texas.

A 4-star edge rusher with 13 offers to date, Stripling’s latest cut left Baylor, Georgia, Houston, Kansas, Missouri, Notre Dame and TCU on the outside looking in, although there’s certainly plenty of time for twists and turns in his recruitment.

As a junior, the 6-foot-2.5, 260-pound Stripling totaled 33 tackles, 6 sacks, 5 tackles for loss and 7 hurries in just nine games.

As far as Oklahoma is concerned, Stripling is one of five strong-side defensive end targets holding an offer from the Sooners, but far-and-away the most highly ranked. He unofficially visited Norman in April.

Lincoln Riley’s 2019 class currently boasts six commits and ranks No. 4 nationally and headlines the Big 12.

Stripling is ranked as the nation’s No. 73 player, No. 7 strong-side defensive end and the No. 9 player Texas, per the 247Sports Composite rankings.

The post Elite 2019 SDE Marcus Stripling names Oklahoma in top 8 appeared first on Diehards.

Nebraska-Florida volleyball: NCAA Tournament time, TV channel, watch online (December 16, 2017)

Published: Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 8:33 AM

Nebraska women’s volleyball plays in the national championship of the 2017 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament against Florida on Saturday, December 16. Find match time, TV channel and watch online information below.

Nebraska beat Penn State to get to the championship round.

Nebraska-Florida volleyball NCAA Tournament: Time, match details

Nebraska and Florida play at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 16.

Time: 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT

Date: Saturday, December 16, 2017

Location: Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

The Nebraska-Florida volleyball match is set for 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on Saturday, December 16. The match is being played in Kansas City, Mo.

How can I watch the Nebraska-Florida volleyball match on TV and online?

The Nebraska-Florida match will be broadcast on ESPN2. It can also be streamed online on ESPN3 through  WatchESPN.

How can I listen to the Nebraska-Florida volleyball game on the radio?

Nebraska and Florida can be heard on the Husker Sports Network radio affiliates, including 107.3 FM and 1400 KLIN in Lincoln and AM 590 in Omaha. Online radio will be available at  Huskers.com, on the Huskers App, and on TuneIn Radio and the TuneIn Radio App.

John Baylor and Lauren Cook will have the call.

Nebraska-Florida volleyball: NCAA Tournament preview

The fifth-seeded Nebraska volleyball team faces the No. 2 seed Florida in the NCAA Championship on Saturday night.

Nebraska owns a 31-4 overall record, winning 30-plus matches for the 23rd time in school history and the 11th time during coach John Cook’s tenure. The Huskers are only one of nine teams nationally with 30 wins in 2017.

This is also Nebraska’s eighth trip to the NCAA Finals, having gone 4-3 in its previous matchups. That includes a 3-1 record in the championship matches under Cook.

The Gators have a 30-1 overall record this season. Florida’s only loss was against Kentucky. The Gators are also looking for their first NCAA title on Saturday. This is only their second NCAA Finals appearance in program history. If Florida wins, it would be the first time an SEC team has won the NCAA volleyball title.

Nebraska is 8-3 all time against Florida. One of those losses actually came earlier in the season when the Gators defeated Nebraska 3-2 in Gainesville during the second match of the season for both teams. The Huskers were without Big Ten Setter of the Year and first-team All-American Kelly Hunter, who has been a difference-maker all season for Nebraska

Hunter is putting up 10.78 assists per set and 2.76 digs per set. She is also the only NCAA Division I setter who has set her team to both a national and conference championship twice. Hunter ranks second in school history with 4,088 career assists.

Hunter is assisted by Mikaela Foecke, who leads the Huskers with 3.48 kills per set and adds 2.32 digs per set; Annika Albrecht, who averages 3.06 kills per set and 2.74 digs per set; and Holman, who averages 2.43 kills and 1.15 blocks per set with a team-best .357 hitting percentage.

The Gators have three All-Americans — first-team selection Rhamat Alhassan, second-team honorees Shainah Joseph and Carli Snyder, and third-team pick Rachael Kramer. Alhassan was also named the 2017 SEC Player of the Year and averaged 2.72 kills per set on .405 hitting. She also adds 1.70 blocks per set.

The Huskers hope to get just as much support from fans at the Sprint Center and back home at Pinnacle Bank Arena. After the conclusion of Nebraska basketball’s matchup with Kansas, the Huskers will stream the match between Nebraska volleyball and Florida on the big screens for fans to watch and cheer along.