NFL Draft: Browns get their quarterback in second round

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 9:12 PM
Updated: Saturday, April 29, 2017 @ 12:03 AM


            Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) warms up before practice at Scottsdale Community College in Phoenix on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. David Jablonski/Staff
Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) warms up before practice at Scottsdale Community College in Phoenix on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. David Jablonski/Staff

Just when some thought the Cleveland Browns had decided to delay their seemingly endless quarterback search, they selected Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer on Friday in the second round of the NFL Draft with the No. 52 overall pick.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Toledo native battled through coaching issues last season to complete 212 of his 361 attempts for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns against nine interceptions despite being sacked 25 times behind the Fighting Irish’s struggling offensive line.

In his two years as a starter, Kizer completed 423 attempts for 5,809 yards and 47 touchdowns against 19 interceptions.

Kizer watched three other quarterbacks come off the board before him on Thursday before finding his landing spot.

The Browns can only hope Kizer works out better than Brady Quinn, the last Notre Dame quarterback they drafted. They chose Quinn, also an Ohio native, with the No. 22 pick in the first round in 2007 and he was out of football in a few years.

The Browns drafted Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday, and then moved back in a trade with the Houston Texans.

Quarterbacks drafted ahead of Kizer included North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky (No. 2 to Chicago Bears), Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes (No. 10 to Kansas City Chiefs) and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson (No. 12 to the Houston Texans). All went in the top half of the first round.

At 6-4 and 230 pounds, Kizer’s physical tools drew raves from scouts. But he struggled last season and completed 59 percent of his passes as Notre Dame went a disappointing 4-8.

Coach Brian Kelly said earlier in April that Kizer “should still be in college” and needs time to develop.

“No one else can do what I can do,” Kizer told USA TODAY Sports before the draft. “And I’ve truly figured out in this (draft) process, if I can maximize all my potential in every aspect of the game – this is bold – I do have the ability to be the greatest quarterback to ever play.

“Imagine taking (Tom) Brady’s intellect and Brady’s preparation and putting it on a guy with Cam Newton’s body. Why can’t I be the greatest? The only thing stopping me from it is me. That’s what’s driving me now.”

Kizer, 21, went 8-3 in 2015, his first season as the Notre Dame starter. He completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 2,880 yards and 21 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He ran 135 times for 525 yards and 10 touchdowns.

He left Notre Dame after his redshirt sophomore season.

NFLDraftScout.com analyst Dane Brugler ranked him second among the quarterbacks in this class behind Trubisky. ESPN analyst Todd McShay said Kizer “has the biggest upside” of all the quarterbacks.

Kizer has impressive arm strength, but his mechanical issues in the pocket led to accuracy issues at Notre Dame and need work.

Investing in Kizer in the second round is likely to quiet the speculation about the Browns trading for a veteran quarterback like New England Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo or Cincinnati Bengals backup AJ McCarron.

In the third round, the Browns selected Larry Ogunjobi, a 6-3, 305-pound defensive tackle from North Carolina Charlotte with the 65th overall pick.

NFL Draft expert told Oklahoma TE Mark Andrews to go back to school: ‘He’ll be a third-round choice’

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 3:19 AM

At least one prominent NFL talent evaluator is not optimistic about what the NFL Draft holds for Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews.

Former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt told Andrews not to declare early, according to CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. Brandt now works as a draft analyst for NFL.com, and he said Andrews would have been better served by returning to Oklahoma for his senior year.

“I told him not to come out, stay in school, he’d be a third-round choice,” Brandt said. “ He came out. He’ll be a third-round choice. He’d be a lot better off because there’s a weak class next year. He’d have a chance to move up.”

Despite Brandt’s advice, Andrews declared for the draft after a junior season where he won the Mackey Award and caught 62 passes for 958 yards and 8 touchdowns. He was also a unanimous All-America selection.

With Baker Mayfield leaving for the NFL as well, it’s not assured that Andrews could have put up better numbers in 2018. However, according to Brandt, his value would have been higher in 2019 draft class that will be thinner on talent overall.

Not everyone feels the way Brandt does, though. ESPN’s Mel Kiper projected Andrews as a late first-round pick in his first mock draft. CBS Sports currently ranks Andrews as the best tight end in this draft class and the No. 32 overall prospect on the board.

Florida recruiting: Latest updates on Gators class

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 3:05 AM

Florida coach Dan Mullen and his staff hit the recruiting trail in full force this week.

The Gators visited several of their top targets for the Class of 2018, secured some official visits and offered scholarships to more than 20 underclassmen recruits.

Where Florida’s class ranks

Florida’s 2018 class is ranked  No. 17  nationally and  No. 6 in the SEC, according to the 247Sports Composite. Eight of the Gators’ 14 commits are 4-star recruits. Florida has the SEC’s third-highest average star rating (90.49) behind Alabama (92.73) and Georgia (93.69).

Latest news

Some of the big names seen by the Gators this week were top-100 offensive linemen William Barnes, Nicholas Petit-Frere and Richard Gouraige (Florida commit), 4-star defensive tackle Nesta Silvera (Miami commit), 4-star JUCO defensive end Dorian Gerald, 4-star defensive end/linebacker Andrew Chatfield and Quay Walker (Alabama commit), 5-star cornerback Patrick Surtain Jr. and 4-star cornerback Noah Boykin (Marlyland commit).

Florida lost a pledge Wednesday from 2019 linebacker/safety Marcus Tillman Jr., who said the Gators are still at the top of his list despite re-opening his recruitment.

Here’s the latest Florida recruiting news:

Commits (14)

  • 4-star QB Emory Jones, Heard Country (Franklin, Ga.)
  • 4-star RB  Dameon Pierce, Bainbridge (Ga.)
  • 4-star RB  Iverson Clement, Rancocas Valley (Mount Holly, N.J.)
  • 4-star TE  Kyle Pitts, Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.)
  • 3-star TE  Dante Lang, Boca Raton (Fla.)
  • 3-star OL  Noah Banks, Iowa Western C.C. (Council Bluffs, Iowa)
  • 3-star OL  Chris Bleich, Wyoming Valley West (Plymouth, Pa.)
  • 4-star OT Richard Gouraige, Cambridge Christian School (Tampa, Fla.)
  • 4-star LB  David Reese, Vero Beach (Fla.)
  • 4-star LB/DB  Amari Burney, Calvary Christian (Clearwater, Fla.)
  • 4-star DB Trey Dean, Dutchtown (Hampton, Ga.)
  • 3-star DB  John Huggins, Mainland (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
  • 3-star DB  Randy Russell, Carol City (Miami)
  • 3-star K  Evan McPherson, Fort Payne (Fort Payne, Ala.)

Top 5 targets

5-star OL Nicholas Petit-Frere, Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Fla.)

5-star CB Patrick Surtain Jr., American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.)

4-star WR Jacob Copeland, Escambia (Pensacola, Fla.)

4-star OL William Barnes, Apopka (Fla.)

4-star DE Andrew Chatfield, American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.)

Position breakdown

Here’s a breakdown of the number of commits by position and how many are projected to be signed at the position:

  • QB: 1/1 (Emory Jones*)
  • RB: 2/2 (Iverson Clement*, Dameon Pierce*)
  • TE: 2/2 (Dante Lang, Kyle Pitts)
  • WR: 2/4 (Trevon Grimes*^, Van Jefferson*^)
  • OL: 3/5 (Noah Banks*, Chris Bleich*, Richard Gouraige)
  • DL: 0/3
  • LB: 1/2 (David Reese)
  • DB: 3/4 (Trey Dean*, John Huggins, Randy Russell#)
  • ATH: 1/1 (Amari Burney*)
  • K: 1/1 (Evan McPherson)

* mid-year enrollee
^ transfer
# medical hardship

Geographical breakdown

Here’s a breakdown of Florida’s commits by state:

  • Alabama: 1 (McPherson)
  • Florida: 7 (Banks, Burney, Gouraige, Huggins, Lang, Reese, Russell#)
  • Georgia: 3 (Dean, Jones, Pierce)
  • New Jersey: 1 (Clement)
  • Pennsylvania: 2 (Bleich, Pitts)

Iowa’s Chris Street Award winners discuss the honor — in their own words

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 3:00 AM

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The worst moment in Iowa sports history took place 25 years ago Friday, when junior power forward Chris Street died in a car accident after his vehicle collided with a snowplow in Iowa City.

For those living in the tight-knit state of Iowa, it became the “where were you when” moment of a generation. It wasn’t so much that Street was a great player, which he was. It wasn’t that Street was so affable, of which thousands of Iowa fans can attest. Or that Street always wanted to play for the Hawkeyes, which he showed by picking Iowa as an Indianola sophomore at a time when early commitments were unusual.

It was that Street symbolized everything everyone wanted from an Iowa athlete. He was proud, tough and a tenacious defender. Nobody worked harder and nobody battled like Street. He was the ultimate Hawkeyes player.

This plaque of Chris Street is built into the doorway outside Iowa’s men’s basketball locker room at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. (Scott Dochterman/Land of 10)

In his final game, Street set his school record for most consecutive free throws made with 34. His 247 rebounds were the most ever by an Iowa sophomore. He posted the most blocked shots in a season by an Iowa freshman. Street averaged 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds at the time of his death.

Jess Settles was a high school senior at Winfield-Mount Union (Iowa) High School when Street died. Settles had grown close to Street in the offseason and expected to back him up in 1993-94. Settles broke his school’s all-time scoring record at Pekin High School that 1993 night and got on the school bus for a one-hour ride home not knowing what happened.

“We got on the bus and coach Mike Koelker turned on WHO radio, and it was breaking news,” said Settles, now a BTN basketball analyst. “It was devastating news. It was silent driving home.”

Jeff Horner was in elementary school in Mason City, Iowa. Now, 25 years later, Horner is an assistant basketball coach at the University of North Dakota but still remembers vividly when he found out about Street.

“Growing up a Hawkeye fan and being able to live out my childhood dream of playing for the Hawkeyes was something that I will never forget,” Horner said. “I was 9 years old when I walked about my bedroom and my sister had told me that Chris Street had died in a car accident. My heart dropped and I had lost a role model who I closely observed on the court. I obviously knew that I would never play the same position as him, but I set a goal to always be the toughest player on the floor or the field and that was because of Chris Street.”

There are thousands of stories like that from around the state. As a college student, I remember shooting pool at the Towne House in Burlington, Iowa, that night when ESPN broke in with news about Street. The volume was down and it was before the days of a bottom crawl. My buddy asked me what happened, and I just said something bad must have happened to Street for ESPN to open SportsCenter with him on a night the Hawkeyes didn’t play.

Sadly, I was right. I received a call at home later that evening. Those same conversations took place everywhere in Iowa.

In the thick, emotional fog that hovered around Iowa City after his death, Street’s memory has endured. Iowa retired his No. 40 jersey and created the Chris Street Award, which is given to the player who best exemplifies the spirit, enthusiasm and intensity of Street. Since 1993, 28 different players and team trainer John Streif have won or shared the award. For most, if not all, it carries more meaning than any other team honor they receive.

Wade Lookingbill won the first Chris Street Award in 1993. Settles won it three times. In 2016, Mike Gesell, Adam Woodbury, Anthony Clemmons and Jarrod Uthoff shared the honor.

As Iowa commemorates Street on Saturday with a halftime ceremony against Purdue, Land of 10 contacted every player who won or shared the Chris Street Award and many volunteered to share what it means to them. In their own words, this is what they had to say.

Chris Street Award winners

A list of Iowa men’s basketball players to receive the Chris Street Award.

For what do you think the Chris Street Award stands?

Duez Henderson, 2002 winner: “I think the Chris Street Award stands for for passion, energy and spirit amongst other qualities. The things that Chris stood for, believed in and lived out are what makes the great people … great.

“The award while presented to a Hawkeye Basketball player is much more about life than basketball.  I don’t care what profession, what gender, what race, what socioeconomic background a person comes from. You show me someone who lives life with the zest that Chris competed with, and I’ll show you someone who will be successful!”

Matt Gatens, 2012 winner: “To me the Chris Street Award stands for being a great teammate as well as a great person. Exemplifying the spirit of Chris is to show great courage, respect and humility to all on and off the court. It reflects someone who plays the game with great joy and intensity with his teammates and coaches respect.”

Aaron White, 2015 winner: “I think the Chris Street Award stands for embodying what it means to be a Hawkeye. Somebody that plays with passion and showcases the university, himself and the program in the best light possible.”

Ryan Bowen, 1997 co-winner: “For me, the Chris Street awards represents: Hard work, determination and never-say-quit attitude that you need in order to succeed. Going above and beyond what is expected of you, not just on the basketball court, but in everyday life, which is why winning the award with John Streif makes it even more special.”

Mike Gesell, 2016 co-winner: “The Chris Street Award is an honor and stands for everything Chris was as a player and person. The award represents hard work, integrity, leadership, and being an all-around great teammate.”

Anthony Clemmons, 2016 co-winner: “The Chris Street Award stands for toughness, passion, and leadership. The type of player he was made everyone better. His spark and passion for the game cause everyone to respect him and bring their ‘A’ game every time. He was a fan favorite and his remarkable legacy will remain one of the greats.”

Jason Bauer, 1999 co-winner:  The Chris Street Award embodies — “ Player who plays with heart. Maximizes their potential. In some way makes others better. Willing to fill any role or do whatever is necessary to win. Understands that playing for the Hawks and wearing the uniform is one of the greatest honors.”

Jarryd Cole, 2009 and 2011 winner: “The Chris Street Award is awarded to the player that best approached the game and carried himself with the enthusiasm, spirit, and intensity of Chris Street.”

Jess Settles, 1994, 1996 winner, 1999 co-winner: “To me, it’s about going above and beyond and the call of duty. Doing everything you can to be your best on the court and doing everything behind the scenes to help people.”

Adam Haluska, 2005, 2006 winner: “The best way to describe the Chris Street Award is perfectly stated on the award itself: “Chris represented all that is good about the Midwest and in the state of Iowa. He was open, caring, honest, loving and lived life to the fullest every day. We will present an annual award to a Hawkeye who best exemplifies the spirit, enthusiasm and intensity of Chris Street. We want to remember everything Chris represented. He was one of the greatest Hawkeyes of all time.” — Coach Tom Davis

Wade Lookingbill, 1993 winner: “The CMS Award stands for the Iowa player that loves playing for the University of Iowa and representing our great state. The award represents someone that is committed to getting better and doing everything he can to help his team be successful.”

Jeff Horner, 2003 winner: “To me it is the epitome or what being an Iowa Hawkeye is all about. Whenever someone talks about Chris Street, you always hear about how hard he played/worked and what a good person he was. To me, those are the most important things and what the University of Iowa is known for around the country. On top of that, he was a great player and always had a positive influence on everyone around him. It always seemed that no matter who he was around, his positive attitude was infectious. The Chris Street Award stands for hard work, toughness, respect and most importantly being a good person.”

Devyn Marble, 2014 winner: “I believe the Chris Street Award stands for several things. One being that guy who makes the team’s heart beat. An individual who is irreplaceable. Not necessarily stats, but he’s the leader and the team looks to him to guide them in the correct direction. You know he’s going to give it his all every practice and every game. There’s a consistency and a pedestal that comes with that award.”

The University of Iowa’s logo for Chris Street.

What does the Chris Street Award mean to you?

Bauer: “I personally focus on team success and accolades, but this award clearly is an honor because I played with extremely talented teammates who also embodied what the Chris Street Award represents.  Chris Street’s locker was glassed over and so there was a constant reminder of how precious life is and the level of play that is expected when stepping on the court. Unfortunately I never met Chris but one of the most rewarding parts of winning this award has been the opportunity to meet his parents; class act family. This has helped me gain a greater understanding of who Chris was as a person, and not just the talented, high-octane player who loved playing basketball.”

Marble: “I was honestly shocked I received the award. It was a huge honor that the Street family and the coaching staff felt I deserved to be the recipient. I think all players are truly touched when honored with the award.”

Iowa’s Devyn Marble poses with Patty and Mike Street after winning the Chris Street Award in 2014. (Hawkeyesports.com)

Gesell: “The award means a lot. Chris is one of the greatest Hawkeyes of all time and to receive an award in his name is the highest honor. The Chris Street Award is my favorite award of my entire career and is something I will brag about to my grandkids someday.”

Clemmons: “This award means a lot to me and receiving it was a honor. We had four people receive it the year I graduated, and it was well deserved by all of us. Accepting this award meant that I left a great impact on the program the four years I was there and helped create a winning culture. Chris Street Award not only goes out to the best player, but to the players that help create a culture that involves excitement, passion, leadership and toughness. I’m blessed to have received the award and give Chris Street and his family the upmost respect for allowing me to win this award.”

Henderson: “The award means more and more to me every year. I am honored to have received the award with the other great Hawkeyes. The award sticks out in my mind and reminds me people always appreciate people who give it their all. Every time I put on a Iowa jersey and ran through the tunnel, I felt it was my job to give it absolutely everything I had and compete as hard as I could. Being awarded with the Chris Street Award showed that that was appreciated by those within the program and fans. Mike and Patty [Street] raised a helluva competitor and person, and I am honored to have my name as a small piece of the Chris Street history.”

Cole: “I am honored to be one of a few two-time Chris Street Award winners. I was never the flashiest player on any Iowa team and I for sure wasn’t decorated with a lot of wins. I actually have the most losses in history, but there was never a time when I had that jersey on that I didn’t think we would come out on top. I played with my heart on my sleeve. Even through an unfortunate injury, yearly transfers, and a couple coaching changes, I believed in optimism and was blessed with the opportunity to play beyond college. If Chris Street would have walked away from that crash, there’s no doubt in my mind he would have added to his legacy, no matter the setback.”

White: “The Chris Street Award means a lot to me because I have learned about how great a person and player Chris was. Whenever his name is brought up people remember him for his great play and how he represented the Hawkeyes. I only hope that I had a fraction of the effect he had on the Hawkeye community.”

Gatens: “Growing up as a young Iowa kid I looked up to all the past recipients of the Chris Street Award. Guys like [Greg] Brunner, [Jeff] Horner, [Adam] Haluska, [Dean] Oliver, [Ryan] Bowen and I wanted to some day be like those guys. It was an honor to be awarded the Chris Street Award and will forever be something I will display with pride as a reminder to conduct myself with the same qualities Chris always did. I thank Chris for giving us young Iowans someone to look up to and strive to be like everyday.”

Lookingbill: “To me, the CMS Award means that my friend and great teammate will always be remembered.”

Bowen: “It was tremendous honor for me to win the Chris Street Award. I didn’t know Chris personally other than one time playing against him in PTL. I grew up a huge Iowa basketball fan and was a big fan of his, like most high school kids in the state. He just made connection with all of us that was special and somewhat hard to explain. We all wanted to be the next Chris Street. It was impossible to play with the same intensity and at his skill level but he gave me a blueprint on what to strive for. So, to win the award named after him and to be able to honor his legacy is something that I will cherish forever!”

Haluska: “As a young boy growing up in Iowa, I will never forget the impact Chris Street had on my life. He was the perfect role model of any young Hawkeye aspiring to wear the black and gold. He loved his teammates and played with an intensity that few could replicate. I loved watching Chris compete and play as if every possession was the last. Words can’t describe how honored I am to have won this award twice. I will never forget #40 and how he made all of us Hawkeyes better players and most importantly, better people.”

Horner: “To win the Chris Street Award my freshman year was the greatest sports award I have ever received. To even be mentioned in the same sentence as Chris Street was such an honor, and I still to this day try to instill what Chris Street was all about to the players I coach.”

Settles: “That first year, they left Chris Street’s locker there with his gear in it. I’m right across from that every single day. That drives a person. Every single day, I thought this could be my last day what would Chris do in these situation. I took the court every practice thinking about him.

“I’ve never won a more meaningful award in my life, but I wished we never had it.”

Auburn football: Welcome to athletics complex, Mr. Greene

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 3:00 AM

Auburn football

Auburn football is the No. 1 topic in the War Eagle Wakeup every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across the Tigers’ sports world. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Auburn football, recruiting, basketball and more.

Welcome to the athletics complex, Mr. Greene

There was just a little bit of news on Thursday, and it all started with Allen Greene.

Auburn announced Greene, a Notre Dame graduate and New York Yankees draftee, as the Tigers’ 15th athletic director. Greene is coming to The Plains from Buffalo, where he served as AD since November 2015.

Greene has a degree in finance and played in the Yankees’ minor league system for several years. In the years that followed, he received his master’s degree from Indiana University. He hasn’t spent all of his time up north, though. Previously, he also was involved in business development and advancement functions at Ole Miss.

During his time at Buffalo, Greene earned a reputation for generating athletic and academic success, as well as donor efforts that led to an array of facility improvements and advancements. He’s one of the youngest ADs in all of Division I, too.

Greene received many warm welcomes on Thursday, including one from football coach Gus Malzahn:

In other Auburn news:

On to Athens 

Auburn gymnastics will hit the road and cross the Georgia state line for its first SEC away meet this weekend. The Tigers will take on Georgia at 6 p.m. CT on Friday.

Jeff Graba’s team climbed to the No. 16 spot in the rankings following its opening win against Missouri. UGA is sitting at No. 28 in the poll. The meet can be viewed on SECNetwork+.

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