Archive for July, 2017

Campos_Jake14BU2

Last year the Iowa State Cyclones had zero returning starters on the offensive line, but still managed to rush for 163 yards per game while averaging 4.3 yards per carry and allowed 10 less sacks than in 2015.

Entering the season they figured to have one starter back in left tackle Jake Campos, who had started 23 games the previous two years. Unfortunately, Campos broke his leg in August and was lost for the entire year.

Fast forward to 2017 and the Cyclones are in much better shape as Campos returns as does starting right tackle Julian Good-Jones, who will likely move to center.

Campos was Iowa State’s top high school recruit in their 2013 class and arguably their most decorated under former head coach Paul Rhoads. He played in the US Army All-American game and was a First Team All-Iowa selection as a senior. College football expert Phil Steele rated him as the No. 31 offensive lineman in the nation.

After red-shirting his first year in Ames, Campos added 19 pounds and started the last 11 games in 2014.  He started all 12 games in 2015 when the Cyclones averaged 182 rushing yards per game, their most since 2001.

Campos is now listed at 6’8” 305 pounds. The Senior was held out of spring practices, but will be back to participating in fall camp. Steele listed him as a Third Team Preseason Big 12 selection in his annual preview magazine, nicknamed “The College Football Bible.”

barnes

The last running back that ran for over 1,000 yards for the Kansas State Wildcats was John Hubert in 2013, with 1,048.

Since then, the leading running back has had 540 yards in 2014, 692 yards in 2015, and 596 yards last year.

The leading returnee is 5’10” 198 pound Junior Justin Silmon, who had 464 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carry in 2016.

The natural assumption would be that he would take over the lead role this year, but that honor will belong to Alex Barnes.

After rushing for 2,361 yards and 38 touchdowns as a high school Senior, Barnes picked up his second straight Conference Offensive Player of the Year award. College Football expert Phil Steele had Barnes rated as the No. 106 running back out of high school. He graduated early and arrived in Manhattan before the spring practices in 2015, but still red-shirt his initial year.

The 6’1” 221 Sophomore had just 56 carries as a red-shirt Freshman last year, but his 7.9 yards per carry average was the best ever under head coach Bill Snyder (now entering his 26th season) and led the Big 12 Conference.

Barnes was the first freshman in school history with back-to-back 100 yard games (versus Baylor and Kansas) and was never tackled behind the line of scrimmage. He missed the last two games due to injury, but was the healthiest since he arrived this spring.

He reads schemes well, sees daylight, and is aggressive. He’s also an extremely hard worker.

Quarterback Jessie Ertz ran for 1,012 yards last year, but will likely see his carries scaled back as he is coming off shoulder surgery. The Wildcats return four starters on their offensive line and Steele named Barnes pre-season fourth team Big 12 entering the 2017 campaign. There’s no reason to think he won’t earn that assuming he stays healthy.

 

willgrier3

The West Virginia Mountaineers have had plenty of offensive firepower under head coach Dana Holgorsen. In his six years at the helm, the Mountaineers have averaged less than 30 points per game just once, while averaging 294 passing yards per game in that span.

West Virginia will have a new signal caller under center  this season after Skyler Howard started all 26 games the last two years.

6’2” 204 pound junior Will Grier will take over the reigns after sitting out last year when he transferred from Florida.

Grier was the Parade National Player of the Year after totaling 4,989 yards and a nation high 77 touchdowns his senior year. College football expert Phil Steele had Grier rated the No. 3 quarterback out of high school.

After red-shirting in 2014 for the Gators, Grier won the job by the middle of the 2015 spring practices. He went on to play in six games, starting five, and threw for 1,204 yards (66 percent) with a 10-3 touchdown to interception ratio. Unfortunately, an ingredient in an over the counter supplement triggered a positive PED test and Grier was handed a one year suspension by the NCAA in October.

Grier has lived in the film room since his arrival in Morgantown. He has outstanding accuracy and can make all the throws due to his strong arm. He’s also an underrated scrambler and is more dangerous in the quarterback run game than given credit.

With the Mountaineers far less experienced than last year, Grier will have to take control of an offense that has just five returning starters, including just two on the offensive line. West Virginia must also replace its top two receivers.

Provided he stays healthy Grier will throw for over 3,000 yards and should be able to lead the Mountaineers to a fourth straight bowl game.

Cobbs_AA WR Top Unit Page

When Simmie Cobbs signed to play at Indiana in 2014, he was their No. 17 overall rated recruit out of 26 signees. He was considered the third best receiver in the signing class behind top overall recruit Dominique Booth and J-Shun Harris.

All three played all 12 games as true freshman with Harris having the most production, starting six games and being named the teams “Offensive Newcomer Player of the Year.”

Cobbs was considered intriguing, started twice, and his 16.3 yards per catch average led the team. Former head coach Kevin Wilson said the then 6’4” 210 pounder was, “Physically more mature than the other receivers.”

Booth didn’t start any games and had just 70 yards.

Cobbs enhanced his stock over the off-season and was named the Hoosiers most improved player after the 2015 spring practice. He stepped up as a leader over the summer and took on additional pressure after both Harris and Booth were lost for the year during fall camp due to injuries.

While he had some troubling drops, Cobbs went on to earn Third Team Big Ten honors after leading Indiana in catches and yards. His 1,035 yards were third best in the conference, while his 60 catches ranked eighth.

Last year Booth was medically disqualified due to concussions, while Harris was again lost for the year due to an ACL injury.

Cobbs missed the opener, but started versus Ball State in game two. Unfortunately, he then suffered an ankle injury and was lost for the year, finishing with zero catches.

Cobbs and Harris are both expected to be 100 percent by the fall. Cobbs is now 220 pounds and earned the “Outstanding Special Teams” award after Spring practices. While not a burner, he has a big catch radius and attacks the ball.

So much is thought of of Cobbs, that college football expert Phil Steele made him a preseason First Team All-Big Ten selection.

New offensive coordinator Mike DeBord did a fine job at Tennessee the last two years and returns to the Big Ten, where he served as a Michigan assistant for 11 years.

Quarterback Richard Lagow returns to lead the offense and look for Cobbs to emerge as his favorite target.

 

jalen

Northwestern must replace two of it’s three leading receivers from last year, including Phil Steele’s Third Team All-American Austin Carr. The leading returnee is Flynn Nagel, who had 40 catches for 447 yards in 2016.

Carr was the lone Big Ten player that had over 1,000 receiving yards last year, but his loss won’t be as big as expected.

Joining the Wildcats over the off-season was Jalen Brown, a 6’1” 200 Junior grad transfer from Oregon. Brown was rated as the No. 17 receiver in the nation out of high school according to Steele’s rankings.

Carr had just 23 career receptions before breaking out last year, and Brown enters this season with 26 career receptions. Both are the exact same size. Brown is described as being explosive and made six starts for the Ducks last year.

Despite not playing a down for Northwestern, Brown was named a 2017 preseason second team Big Ten selection by Phil Steele.

6/3 – Ring Mag #3 & WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Adonis Stevenson made his 8th defense of his title against unrated Andrzej Fonfara, stopping him at :28 of the 2nd round at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Stevenson dropped Fonfara in the 1st round and then when the 2nd round started and Fonfora had no answers for the Stevenson onslaught, trainer Virgil Hill stepped on the ring apron signaling for referee in charge Michael Griffin to wave off the bout. This was a rematch from 2014, when Stevenson won a 12 rd UD. Stevenson has now stopped 4 of his last 5 foes, including 3 straight.

6/3 – On the undercard of Stevenson/Fonfora, Ring Mag #4 Light Heavyweight Eleider Alvarez won a 12 rd MD over unrated Jean Pascal by the scores of 117-111, 116-112 & 114-114. There were no knockdowns, but there were several heated exchanges throughout. Pascal mostly waited until near the end of each round to try to steal it on the judges scorecards and it worked on 1. Alvarez has gone the distance in 5 of his last 6 and remains the #1 contender for WBC Champion Adonis Stevenson.

6/3 – Ring Mag #1 Strawweight and WBC Champ Wanheng Menayothin aka Chayaphon Moonsri successfully defended his title for the 7th time with a 12 rd UD over unrated Omari Kimweri in Thailand. Menayothin was cut over the left eye from an accidental headbutt in the 1st round, which resulted in a point deduction for Kimweri. It appeared that Kimweri then scored a knockdown at the end of the 1st round, but the referee ruled it a slip. It was all Menayothin from there as he controlled the remainder of the fight. This was his 5 straight fight that has gone the distance.

6/7 – Ring Mag #7 Middleweight Avtandil Khurtsidze was arrested in New York on racketeering & fraud charges in connection with a Russian crime mob. He was scheduled to take on #4 & WBO Champ Billy Joe Saunders on July 8th. That fight is now postponed as Khurtsidze is unable to travel.

6/9 – Ring Mag #5 Jr Welterweight Regis Prograis crushed formerly undefeated Joel Diaz at 2:55 of the 2nd rd. Prograis dropped Diaz 4 times in the round and ref in charge Mark Nelson had no choice but to halt the action. Prgrais has now stopped 13 of his last 14 foes, including 5 straight. Diaz suffered his 1st loss in 24 fights.

Skysports.com

6/10 – Ring Mag #3 Bantamweight & IBF Champ Lee Haskins lost his title by 12 rd UD to unrated, but undefeated Ryan Burnett at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland by the scores of 119-107 twice & 118-108. Burnett dropped Haskins twice, once in the rd 6 & again in rd 11. Originally the bout was scored as a SD victory, but was later overturned as 1 of the judges had the fighters mixed up on his scorecard. Burnett’s last 6 fights have gone the distance & this is his 1st World Title. Haskins had his 8 fight winning streak snapped.

 

6/10 – Ring Mag #6 Strawweight Simphiwe Khonco easily won a non descript 12 rd UD over unrated Lito Dante at Emperors Palace in South Africa by the scores of 119-109 twice & 118-110. Khonco dominated from the outset. Khonco has now won 12 of 13, including 3 straight since his last loss, a 12 rd ud to current Ring Mag #9 Jr Flyweight Hekkie Budler for the WBA Staweight title. 6 of his last 7 wins have been by decision. Dante lost just once in his previous four fights and had beaten solid competition of late.

6/11 – Evander Holyfield, Marco Antonio Barrera, Johnny Tapia, Jimmy Lennon Sr, Eddie Booker, Jerry Roth, Barry Tompkins, Steve Farhood & Johnny Lewis were inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. Barrera was a world champion in 3 divisions: Jr Featherweight, Featherweight, & Jr Lightweight. He retired with a record of 67-7, 44 KO’s. Holyfield was a US Bronze Medalist in the 1984 Olympics before becoming a World Champion in 2 divisions: Cruiserweight & Heavyweight. He retired with a record of 44-10-2, 29 KO’s. Tapia was a World Champion in 3 divisions: Jr Bantamweight, Bantamweight & Featherweight. He retired with a record of 59-5-2, 30 KO’s & passed away on 5-27-12 due to heart problems.

6/11 – Twenty-five year old Featherweight Daniel “Twitch” Franco is comatosed and in critical condition following emergency surgery to stop brain bleeds after being knocked-out by Jose Haro on a CBS Sports Network televised bout at the WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa.

6/13 – Ring Mag #10 Flyweight Takuya Kogawa lost a 10 rd SD to unrated Masayuki Kuroda at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan by the scores of 96-93, 95-94 & 94-95. Kogawa was dropped in the 1st rd from a left hook and the action was back and forth from then on. Kuroda has now won 4 of his last 5, including 3 straight. Kogawa had his 6 fight win streak snapped. This was a rematch from last March when Kogawa won a 10 rd UD. Is there a trilogy in order?

6/15 – Ring Mag #2 Heavyweight & WBC Champ Deontay Wilder was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

6/17 – Ring Mag #6 Middleweight Avtandil Khurtsidze was stripped of his interim WBO World Title following his arrest last week. Ring Mag #4 Billy Joe Saunders is the real WBO Middleweight World Champion.

HBO Boxing

6/17 – The top 2 fighters in the Ring Mag pound for pound rankings & Light Heavyweight rankings squared off with WBA, IBF & WBO World Champion Andre Ward scoring a TKO at 2:29 of the 8th rd over Sergey Kovalev at Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada in a direct rematch from their fight last November. Ward also became the Ring Magazine World Light Heavyweight Champion. Like their 1st bout, this fight ended with controversy as referee in charge Tony Weeks stopped the bout after Ward landed a blatant low blow. Kovalev was hurt badly and reeling from a counter right that landed on his chin when Ward landed four consecutive left hand body shots, the last clearly low. Kovalev had success early with his jab, but Ward looked stronger in the middle rounds. At the time of the stoppage Ward led 67-66 on 2 of the judges scorecards, with the 3rd judge having Kovalev ahead 68-65. Afterward Ward and his trainer mentioned moving up to heavyweight to take on current Ring Mag #1, IBF, & WBA World Champion Anthony Joshua. Kovalev was frustrated with the outcome at the post-fight press conference and his promoter, Main Events, said they would file a protest with the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Their initial fight was an extremely close encounter last November, when Ward won a disputed 12 rd UD. The Ring Magazine Title had been vacant since Nov ’15 when Adonis Stevenson was stripped for lack of quality opposition.

6/17 – On the undercard of Ward/Kovalev, Ring Mag #7 pound for pound, #1 Jr Featherweight & WBA Champ Guillermo Rigondeaux and Ring Mag #6 Moises Flores fought to a no-contest after Rigondeaux was initially awarded a 1st rd TKO win. Rigondeaux landed a knockout shot just after the 1st rd bell sounded and the Nevada commission overturned the initial ruling. Rigondeaux was making the 8th defense of his title, while Flores was the interim WBA titleholder.

6/17 – Also on the undercard of Ward/Kovalev, Ring Mag #10 Light Heavyweight Dmitry Bivol stopped unrated Cedric Agnew at 1:27 of the 4th rd. Bivol scored a knockdown in the opening stanza & although Agnew rose & continued on, he could withstand no more and indicated to ref in charge Russell Mora that he was done. The undefeated Bivol is the WBA ‘regular’ champion, but Andre Ward is the real champion of the Organization.

6/17 – Ring Mag #8 Super Middleweight Tyron Zeuge won a 12 rd UD over unrated Paul Smith at Rittal Arena in Wetzlar, Hessen, Germany with all 3 judges turning in identical 119-108 scorecards. Zeuge scored a knockdown in the 12th rd. The undefeated Zeuge has now gone the distance in 4 of his last 5 wins. Zeuge holds the ‘regular’ WBA World Title, but George Groves is the real champion of the Organization.

6/24 – Ring Mag #6 Cruiserweight Krzysztof Glowacki stopped unrated, but undefeated Hizni Altunkaya when Altunkaya failed to come out for the 6th rd at the Ergo Arena in in Gdansk, Poland. Glowacki scored a knockdown in the 2nd rd & 2 more in the 5th round. It was his 1st fight since his 1st career loss when he lost the WBO title via 12 rd UD to current Ring Mag #1 & WBO Champ Olksandr Usyk last Sept.

6/26 – Former two division World Champion Beibut Shumenov announced his retirement due to an eye injury suffered shortly prior to his last fight in May of ’15. He was to fight later this month, but the eye wouldn’t heal. Shumenov held the WBA world Title at both Light Heavyweight & Cruiserweight. He retires with a record of 17-2, 11 KO’s. Each of his losses were by close decisions in World Title bouts.

Premier Boxing Champions

6/30 – In a battle of top 5 Lightweights, Ring Mag #3 & IBF Champion Robert Easter successfully defended his title for the 2nd time with a 12 rd UD over Ring Mag #4 Denis Shafikov by the scores of 120-108 twice & 116-112 at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio. The fight was closer to the 116-112 score, but there was no doubt that Easter’s length was a huge advantage. His last 3 fights have gone the distance. Shafikov had won 5 of 6 entering and each of his 3 losses have all come in World Title bouts.