• Texas picks up another big time recruit

    After a rough loss in Manhattan, Kansas, on Saturday, Head Football Coach Charlie Strong was able to pull out a recruiting win on Sunday afternoon when Cameron Townsend, a 2015 4-star OLB from Missouri City announced his commitment to the Longhorns, choosing Strong’s team over Oklahoma and Oregon State.

    Townsend’s announcement makes him the 18th commit in the class of 2015, currently ranked 16th in the country and first in the Big 12 by ESPN.

    At 6 foot 1, 205 pounds, Townsend has a similar, though slightly leaner, build to current starting linebacker Jordan Hicks, who despite being plagued by injuries the past two seasons has been one of Texas’ most reliable forces on defense. Townsend said one of Texas’ biggest pulls was the fact that he had “a good opportunity to play early” with Hicks’ departure after this season with the coaching staff recruiting Townsend for Hicks’ position.

    On film, Townsend shows his explosiveness off the snap and quick feet, proving his reported 4.63 40 time. Townsend also showed good physicality, unafraid to go head to head with the big guys on the line as well as with receivers in the slot. On the pass rush, he comes off the edge well and is able to elude blockers on his path to the quarterback. He also makes good use of a long wingspan to make tackles when one arm is occupied by a blocker. He also shows great natural athleticism, as shown in a game his junior year where he hurdled a lineman en route to a sack.

    Townsend also does a great job on the delayed blitz, which accounts for his high tackles-for-loss count.

    Though, a few times on his junior year highlight tape he seemed unwilling to finish tackles, applying one hit then letting his teammates bring the ball carrier down. While he can get away with this against high school competition, a tough college running back would make him look silly. He will have to bulk up in the spring and summer, but has the frame and work ethic to get it done.

    Overall, Townsend has raw talent and athletic ability that he has been able to get by on in high school. He described his current coaching staff as “offense-minded,” so it could be fun to see what Strong and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford are able to turn him into with some closer technique coaching. Strong has proved this season that he isn’t afraid to play- and even start- true freshman, so don’t be surprised to see Townsend getting quality reps next fall if he can show a good understanding of the defense.

  • Texas picks up another big time recruit

    After a rough loss in Manhattan, Kansas, on Saturday, Head Football Coach Charlie Strong was able to pull out a recruiting win on Sunday afternoon when Cameron Townsend, a 2015 4-star OLB from Missouri City announced his commitment to the Longhorns, choosing Strong’s team over Oklahoma and Oregon State.

    Townsend’s announcement makes him the 18th commit in the class of 2015, currently ranked 16th in the country and first in the Big 12 by ESPN.

    At 6 foot 1, 205 pounds, Townsend has a similar, though slightly leaner, build to current starting linebacker Jordan Hicks, who despite being plagued by injuries the past two seasons has been one of Texas’ most reliable forces on defense. Townsend said one of Texas’ biggest pulls was the fact that he had “a good opportunity to play early” with Hicks’ departure after this season with the coaching staff recruiting Townsend for Hicks’ position.

    On film, Townsend shows his explosiveness off the snap and quick feet, proving his reported 4.63 40 time. Townsend also showed good physicality, unafraid to go head to head with the big guys on the line as well as with receivers in the slot. On the pass rush, he comes off the edge well and is able to elude blockers on his path to the quarterback. He also makes good use of a long wingspan to make tackles when one arm is occupied by a blocker. He also shows great natural athleticism, as shown in a game his junior year where he hurdled a lineman en route to a sack.

    Townsend also does a great job on the delayed blitz, which accounts for his high tackles-for-loss count.

    Though, a few times on his junior year highlight tape he seemed unwilling to finish tackles, applying one hit then letting his teammates bring the ball carrier down. While he can get away with this against high school competition, a tough college running back would make him look silly. He will have to bulk up in the spring and summer, but has the frame and work ethic to get it done.

    Overall, Townsend has raw talent and athletic ability that he has been able to get by on in high school. He described his current coaching staff as “offense-minded,” so it could be fun to see what Strong and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford are able to turn him into with some closer technique coaching. Strong has proved this season that he isn’t afraid to play- and even start- true freshman, so don’t be surprised to see Townsend getting quality reps next fall if he can show a good understanding of the defense.

  • Though Steve Nash's career might be ending, he will go done as an NBA star

    Steve Nash might have already played his last NBA game.

    With back and nerve problems that will keep him sidelined the entire season, Nash may not have hoped for an ending like this, but he sure did have one heck of an NBA career.

    Due to the primacy effect, it is easy to forget Nash won consecutive MVP awards in 2005 and 2006 with the Phoenix Suns. We are now seeing an aged Nash with a depleted Lakers team while his career is slowly coming to a close.  But at his prime, Nash facilitated one of the most high powered offenses we have seen in his time with Phoenix. That Phoenix team is known to have started the “up-tempo” style of offense we see so much around the league now thanks mostly to Nash.

    Led by coach Mike D’antoni, Nash along with Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion averaged a league high 108 points per game. Nash was a double-double machine with points and assist well in double digits. The way Nash weaved through defenses with such ease and orchestrated this high octane offense was a thing of beauty. To truly see his underrated speed and skill of passing, he was one of those players you had to watch live in a stadium at least once.

    And how can we forget Nash’s antics in the dunk contest with fellow teammate Stoudemire. Nash used his brilliant soccer skills to kick up the ball for an alley-oop dunk to Stoudemire. He used this creative side to create passing lanes that nobody thought existed and it was these little things that made Nash such a fun loving teammate and player to watch.

    As his career may be coming to a close, Nash’s career averages of 14.3 points per game and 8.5 assists per game don’t tell the whole picture. He ranks third overall in total assists and tied first for an almost perfect free throw percentage. Nash is considered to be a lock for the Hall of Fame and its a shame his last few seasons are far short of hall of fame play.

    If this truly is the end of his career, it sure was fun. Nash led arguably the best offenses in the league with Dallas and Phoenix for about six seasons in a row in the early 2000s. With all the accolades Nash does hold, lets hope he isn’t remembered by his last dying years of his NBA career and instead the Nash who blew us away by his speed and kept us guessing of what spectacular pass was coming next.

  • Recruiting brothers: deserved or strategic?

    Former Texas football coach Mack Brown had a history of recruiting brothers to the 40 Acres. And it seems current head coach Charlie Strong’s staff is on their way to following the trend.

    Early Thursday morning Strong extended an offer to 2016 Gilmer Athlete Demarco Boyd. Demarco is a talented player in his own right, but most schools seem to understand that his best quality is his ability to influence his brother Kris Boyd, a 2015 Army All-American cornerback.  

    The Boyd’s aren’t the first star brothers Strong’s staff has offered this year as 2015 RB Kirk Johnson and 2016 WR Collin Johnson have been committed to the Longhorns since April. The Johnson brothers were also seen as a package deal, but are widely regarded as high quality recruits no matter who they could bring with them.

    The art of recruiting brothers is a time-honored practice. Brown was a master of it, recruiting some of the best talent in the country to Texas during his 16-year tenure. Sam and Emmanuel Acho, from the class of 2007 and 2008, respectively, benefited greatly from Brown’s willingness to offer within the family. The Acho brothers ended their careers at Texas as highly decorated linebackers, with both being named finalists for the Lott IMPACT Defensive Player of the Year Award while garnering All-Big 12 and All-American honors.

    Though, on the other end, the Vaccaro brothers didn’t see the same equal results as the Acho’s. Older brother Kenny thrived as a defensive back under Brown, eventually being named All Big 12, All American, and a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Younger brother Kevin, from the class of 2012, has dealt with a few injuries, but for the most part it seems that the junior safety has not been able to impress the new coaching staff enough to earn quality playing time. After recording five tackles in his freshman season on special teams, Vaccaro has played in just seven games without recording a stat.

    But the McCoy brothers are perhaps the greatest example of recruiting both brothers based on the older brothers accomplishments. Former quarterback Colt McCoy left college as a two-time Heisman finalist and as the NCAA leader in career wins.  His legacy still lives strong at Texas, where many believe he should've won the 2009 National Championship. 

    Younger brother Case McCoy is a different story. Though he was an accomplished high school quarterback, many saw his recruitment to Texas a favor from Brown, based on pedigree rather than potential. Case had an interesting career at Texas, splitting time with former quarterback David Ash for the better part of three years. Though he had some success at Texas, he was never near the player his brother was.

    One half of Brown’s last brotherly recruits are still making an impact for the Longhorns. Senior WR Jaxon Shipley has been a consistent playmaker for the Longhorns throughout his career, breaking into the top 10 in school history in receptions, receiving yards, and punt return yardage. Older brother Jordan, who graduated in 2010, is one of the best Longhorn receivers in recent history, breaking records throughout his career including a school record 273 receiving yards against UCF in 2009. The eldest Shipley was a Consensus All-American as a senior, and recipient of the Paul Warfield Trophy, given to the nation’s best collegiate wide receiver.

    Recruiting talented brothers is a long standing tradition in college football. Sometimes, as was the case for the Acho and Shipley brothers, both were recruited based on their own ability and potential. Other times, and probably too often, one brother is targeted by a school who has no intentions for him to contribute anything to the team besides a talented sibling.

    It’s too early to tell where Coach Strong’s two sets of brothers will fall in this argument, though it seems as if the Boyd brothers fall into the same mold as the Vaccaro’s and McCoy’s. The Johnson’s seem to fit in with the Acho’s and Shipley’s, but it will not be clear until their time on the 40 Acres is up. 

  • Rask, Nash among reasons you should pay attention to the NHL

    There's too much to pay attention to when you're a sports fan.

    Right now, you got the start of the NBA, the middle of the college football season, the ever-ubiquitous NFL, and, of course, the NHL. While the NHL just began its season three weeks ago, it has been worth paying attention to.

    Why has the NHL been worth your attention? Well, this season has had just enough surprises to balance out the expected monotony of good and bad teams. The surprises range from the struggles of reigning Vezina winner Tuukka Rask, Rick Nash looking like Rick Nash again, and two unlikely teams (Montreal and Nashville) dominating the league.

    For goaltender Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins, the start to his season has been a mess. His current numbers, a .880 save percentage and a 2.91 goals against average, are ugly. He even had the misfortune of getting pulled against the Bruins' rival, the Montreal Canadiens, after giving up five goals and getting tormented by a fan's laser pointer.

    So, clearly, it's been a rough season so far for Rask. However, there's still hope for him. Thanks to a capable backup in Niklas Svedberg and an improving Bruins defense, Rask will be able to get rest and face fewer good shots.

    After two seasons of disappointment with the New York Rangers, Rick Nash is finally becoming Rick Nash again. Right now, he's leading the league in goals with eight goals on team that has won its last three games.

    Rick Nash figures to be a huge factor for the Rangers this year, especially with star center Derek Stepan being out a few more weeks with a broken jaw and veteran defenseman Dan Boyle losing a month with a broken hand. For Nash, however, he has a chance to step up his leadership, score goals, and put his name into MVP consideration.

    The biggest question for the Montreal Canadiens and the Nashville Predators is whether or not they can keep it up. For the Canadiens, they're at the top of the Eastern Conference with 12 points through seven games. They haven't dominated these early games (they only have a plus-one goal differential), but they have won close games when needed to, with two shootout wins and a thorough 6-4 beating of their rival, the Boston Bruins.

    The Canadiens won't be able to keep up this pace of winning through the season, but they have the firepower and late-game heroics to stay atop the Eastern Conference standings.

    The Canadiens were supposed to be at least somewhat decent entering the season. That's what makes the Nashville Predators such a surprise so far this year. Currently, they're tied with the Anaheim Ducks with 10 points in the Western Conference and they've yet to lose a game.

    It's quite impressive for a team that fired its longtime head coach Barry Trotz after missing the playoffs last season. However, they still have all-star defenseman Shea Weber and a potential Vezina winner in Pekka Rinne. Thanks to those two pieces, the success of the Predators can last, but in a tough Western Conference, we will just have to see.  

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