Tag Archive | "The Mobtown Sports Beat"

Joe Flacco and LaMarr Woodley

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Ravens FB Le’Ron McClain in defense of QB Joe Flacco: “he’s going to prove them wrong”

Posted on 22 June 2011 by Ryan Chell

Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley.

Bengals LB Dhani Jones.

Steelers S Ryan Clark.

And of course, Steelers WR Hines Ward.

All of them have been asked recently in the downtime of the NFL lockout what their opinions are regarding Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and his chances of winning a Super Bowl for the Baltimore Ravens.

Some of the comments have been praiseworthy.

Others have been passive.

Ward-after saying the Ravens could win with Flacco, said he “wasn’t going to put any bulletin board material out there.”

And then there are the personal remarks about Flacco coming from Ryan Clark talking about Flacco’s trademark “bushybrow“.

But the words that have taken the cake so far have been Steelers OLB LaMarr Woodley’s comments about how Flacco will “never win a Super Bowl” if he has anything to say about it.

His words:

“So, that’s not going to happen in this lifetime.”

Joe Flacco and LaMarr Woodley

Anybody else want to step up to the plate? Did I miss anyone?

It took awhile for the calm and introverted Flacco to come to his own defense, but even if he didn’t, several of his Raven teammates have already stepped up to say they have their QB’s back.

Including a guy who could even find himself on another NFL team when the lockout ends-that being FB Le’Ron McClain, who joined Glenn Clark filling in for Thyrl Nelson on Tuesday’s “Mobtown Sports Beat”.

Le'Ron McClain

First off, he started the interview off straightening out the issue on that same question posed to LaMarr Woodley with regards to if Flacco could win a Super Bowl.

He couldn’t be any more sure of Flacco’s ability to get it done.

“I believe we’re one of the top contenders for it,” McClain told Clark. “So with all that nonsense about Joe Flacco not being able to win a Super Bowl and all that…he’s going to prove them wrong in due time.”

He felt like it was his responsibility as a Raven to step forward and defend his teammate from undeserved criticism-especially coming from AFC North rival in  Woodley.

“I feel like I had to put myself in that position,” McClain said. “Like, you need to get through me to get to Joe.”

It even felt better for McClain to see Flacco step up and take the lead in his own defense as well earlier this week. The Ravens fullback said that it’s a side not too many people see of Flacco on the public stage, but if the Ravens first round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft gets highly motivated over something-watch out.

“I’m glad Joe came back and said something because I feel like it was a statement to Joe’s game and to the Baltimore Ravens,” McClain said. “I know with him saying that it took his whole mindset to another level for Joe.”

McClain said if he wasn’t committed to backing up Flacco on the field before, he certainly will be  now.

“We have to play as one,” McClain said. “We have to bring up Joe…we just gotta do that thing for our quarterback.”

It is strange to see McClain-who could be scheduled to be a free agent given the NFL’s resigning of a CBA and off the Ravens roster-still defending Flacco, but for now he’s hoping he gets a chance to physically confront LaMarr Woodley personally when the Ravens and the Steelers meet Week 1 on September 11th.

“And whatever he talks about, I know he’s gotta see me before he sees Joe on any play,” McClain said. “He let the trash talk start this summer, so we’ll see when we talk things over in September and see how things really go.”

He continued.

“LaMarr Woodley…he started it. I hope he can finish it. Because like I said, a fight comes with that and that’s Le’Ron McClain talking.”

McClain even hopes that this trash talk-which can sometimes come back to haunt NFL teams and players-gets his own squad even more motivated this year to win the big game.

McClain said it. If LaMarr Woodley says Flacco can’t win a Super Bowl, he also means the Ravens as a team can’t win one either.

“It’s like he’s talking to all of us, “he said. “It’s just totally disrespectful to Joe Flacco saying he can’t win and to the whole organization.”

“I know the blood, sweat, and tears that we went through these past three years just trying to get on the journey to the Super Bowl. Like Ray Lewis told us, we’re still on that journey. Indianapolis is next, so let’s try for that.”

WNST thanks Le’Ron McClain for joining Glenn Clark on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” today and hopes that he can fulfill his promise to LaMarr Woodley this season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Matt Taylor

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O’s 5th round pick Matt Taylor: “I’m the kind of guy who wants to get there as soon as I can”

Posted on 13 June 2011 by Ryan Chell

Recent Orioles draft choice Matt Taylor-a left-handed pitcher out of Middle Georgia college-may have only been a fifth-rounder by Baltimore, but when it comes to enthusiasm about wearing Orange and Black, the former Warriors pitcher may have already distinguished himself as the ace of the staff.

Matt Taylor

Taylor-a 6’2” LHP-OF selected by Baltimore with the 155 selection in last week’s MLB Amateur draft-joined Thyrl Nelson of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to chat about having his name drawn by the O’s.

“It’s a great honor to be part of the Baltimore organization now,” Taylor told Nelson. “I’m the kind of guy who wants to get there as soon as I can and help out this ball club as soon as possible.”

The ex-Alabama transfer started 15 games for Middle Georgia College-a JUCO school that plays in the same conference as Orioles’ right fielder Nick Markakis’ alma mater, Young Harris College-and appeared in another game in relief for the Warriors.

His stats were very impressive; hence drawing attention from Andy MacPhail, Scouting Director Joe Jordan, and Buck Showalter.

Taylor worked in a team-high 81 innings while only allowing 71 hits and a 3.31 ERA. He did only finish 7-5 , but his impressive strikeout numbers made up for those marks-128 K’s and just 29 walks shows that he has the stuff to compete on the mound.

However, Taylor-expected to begin the year at Single-A Aberdeen-said that despite his eagerness to get to the big league level, he knows that he still would like to perfect as many pitches as possible to ready himself to go up against major league hitters.

But, he’s ready to learn, Taylor said.

“When you get into the organization and you have outstanding pitching coaches that can help you out, you just kind of wait and see, and you just work hard and see what ends up happening with that.”

Taylor admitted that he has a repertoire of pitches but has fallen in love with and really only refined two of them-his sinking fastball and his slider, which he says is his out pitch.

“It’s a plus pitch,” Taylor told Nelson.It is anywhere from 84-87. And I got a fastball that’s probably 90-94 on a good day. I’m kind…working to develop on those other pitches right now.”

And even more special? He wasn’t even focusing on the speed of his pitches-he was worrying about his control.

And with a 128 K-29BB ratio, it looks like he did okay in that department.

And that approach helped Taylor out in the long run he said cause it stopped him from trying too hard and losing focus.

“When scouts came to the games they put a big emphasis on the radar guns and things like that. I guess you’re curious to know how fast you throw sometimes,” Taylor said. This was the first year I wasn’t really worried about my velocity…I was more worried about my control.

“And that’s something I ended up really improving on and I actually ended up gaining velocity because I wasn’t trying to throw as hard as I used to in the past.”

And given Nick Markakis’ track record at transitioning to full-time outfielder when he was chosen by the Birds (Markakis was actually 12-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 2003 when the Orioles drafted him seventh overall), who knows-maybe Taylor, who hit .366 with two home runs, 14 RBIs, and 14 SB in 82 AB-could also fall back on that transition if he felt so inclined as well.

“Well I had several teams that said they’d let me hit if I did not pan out as a pitcher,” Taylor replied before mentioning his favorite part of the game of baseball.

“I love playing defense,” Taylor laughed.I played outfield in junior-college and I actually prefer playing outfield over anything, including hitting and pitching. It’s probably my favorite thing about the game.”

But again, coming back to reality-he knows that he is probably going to make his MLB-career based on the strength of his left arm and his foot on the mound.

“The consensus was they wanted me to really work on pitching, and just focus on pitching. And really see how far that can carry me.”

WNST thanks Matt Taylor for joining WNST! Be sure to follow him on Twitter! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Mark Turgeon

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New Maryland coach Mark Turgeon: “I’ve worked my whole life to get a job like Maryland”

Posted on 25 May 2011 by Ryan Chell

Mark Turgeon may have  been hired less than two weeks ago as the next coach of the Maryland Terrapins basketball program, and while he may have been stunned and shocked to be taking another college job in mid May, he is still taking it with the same approach as if he took the position months ago.

In a sense, it did the former Texas A&M, Wichita State, and Jacksonville State coach well for him to finally get the Maryland job because he didn’t know if he could wait any longer for a big-time opportunity to come his way.

And he joined “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Monday-joining Glenn Clark and Thyrl Nelson-to emphasize his anxiousness in moving on out of College Station to a job he considers elite in College Park.

Mark Turgeon

“I didn’t have the patience to wait at Kansas to take that job,” Turgeon said-who was a Jayhawks assistant under both Larry Brown (1987-88) and Roy Williams (1988-92). “And I understand those that felt a Maryland assistant should have got the job. But I have an understanding of how Maryland works.”

In reality, the last two weeks have all been about getting used to a new home in Maryland, picking up the pieces in the recruiting process, and assembling his staff.

And all that work-not just over the last two weeks in moving his life to Maryland, but his journey as a coach-have taken him here to succeed the great Gary Williams.

“I’ve worked my whole life to get a job like Maryland. I turned down jobs at Wichita State, and I believe we can go to the Final Four a lot in the future here.”

But, Turgeon was able to spend a few minutes introducing his game plan for the program.

But it’s not as complex as what you think.

Turgeon said his style of play is winning.

“This is big-time basketball,” Turgeon told Nelson and Clark. “I want to win as many titles as I can. It’s not easy.”

Turgeon, 46, recently took over for longtime Maryland coach Gary Williams-who stepped down after 22 years on the sidelines at College Park.

Turgeon told Nelson and Clark that it’s been strange to imagine he ushering a legend like Gary Williams out of his office down at Maryland, but so far, he says the transition has been smooth to say the least and Williams has been a big part of that.

“Gary knows that he needs to help out,” Turgeon said. “We all want him around to help us along here. Gary wants us to win and is very proud of the program.”

Turgeon-who spent the last four years at Texas A&M where he went 97-40 during his time at College Station, had four NCAA Tournament appearances and won two Big-12 Coach of the Year awards-also is fully capable of his resources as a coach.

“I’ve never thought about it,” Turgeon said of replacing a legend. “I followed Billy Gillispie. I know Gary’s shoes are big to fill, but I have confidence in my ability.”

What he even has more trust in is his newly formed staff, the administration atop of him, and the support of both the school’s body when it comes to he getting the Maryland program back on the map.

“I have even more confidence in the University of Maryland and the tradition of the program,” Turgeon said. “I became a better coach the day I accepted the job. There’s no excuses. We should have everything  we need to build a Top-10 ball-club.”

The only issue with that standing in his way? Turgeon knows that he’s going to have to beat the best of the best in the ACC-in this case the Duke’s and North Carolinas led by his former mentor in Roy Williams.

But again, Turgeon felt like the hurdle down on Tobacco Road is nothing different than what he went up against in the Big 12 when it came to powerhouses like Texas and his alma mater in Kansas.

“The ACC really isn’t that much different than the Big 12,” Turgeon said. “Kansas won the league for the last four years. We had those two at the top. Those programs recruit at the same level. It’s definitely a challenge.”

But Turgeon said if they do the same things that the elite programs of the league do-and he didn’t beat around the bush when saying it was recruiting-, he said that any program can beat the elite teams in the country.

“We’re not trying to be Duke or North Carolina,” Turgeon replied. “We’re just trying to be Maryland. If we do it right and get good players, we will be able to play with anyone in the country.”

And one of the biggest things Turgeon has done since he took the job was the news that last week that City guard Nick Faust-one of Gary Williams’ prized young recruits who initially committed to Maryland then asked for a release of his letter of intent after the coaching change-decided to stick it with Turgeon as his coach.

Turgeon couldn’t express enough the importance of keeping guys like Faust in the plans for the University of Maryland, and he said it was just a sign that things aren’t going to change too much between him and Gary Williams.

“Keeping Nick Faust was important,” Turgeon added. “I’m looking forward to working with him and making him even better.”

He compared it to his time coaching in the NBA under Larry Brown-one of several stops under the legendary coach-and having to work with one of the NBA’s biggest stars in Allen Iverson.

“The year in the NBA was great working with Coach Brown and coaching Allen was great,” he said. “He was as good as anybody and very respectful. I’m a big Iverson guy.”

He said dealing with a guy like Iverson helped him relate to the prep athlete in the recruiting process.

“It has helped me handle superstars and be more patient. We will use it in recruiting. We will everything in recruiting.”

And Turgeon said that as soon as he was done with Nelson and Clark, that’s what he was getting right back to doing.

“We’ll make a few phone calls trying to add someone,” Turgeon replied. “We’re looking, but being selective not trying to just fill holes.”

“I got the job May 8th. That’s really late to add a piece. We’ll try JuCo or something looking for a post player. But we will have a great class for the upcoming year.”

WNST thanks Mark Turgeon for joining WNST as we welcomed him to College Park! Check out the interview at the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Turgeon Good Coach, But Must Become Good Maryland Coach

Posted on 11 May 2011 by Glenn Clark

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — New University of Maryland basketball coach Mark Turgeon said all the right things when he was introduced to the media Wednesday at Comcast Center’s Heritage Hall.

He said things like,”I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here”, “phenomenal to be standing here as the head coach of Maryland basketball” and “I’ve turned down a lot of jobs over the last four years, and it was going to take a special one for me to move my family. And Maryland’s a special place and that’s why I’m here.”

His comments even channeled the great Charlie Sheen a bit as he exclaimed at one point: “my style of play is winning.”

Following the press conference, he eased concerns that he would eventually leave Maryland to return to his alma-mater (Kansas) by telling me he “hoped” Maryland would be his last job, as long as he was successful enough to remain at the school.

All of the above were home run comments.

It isn’t surprising that Turgeon was so impressive in his first media session after replacing a legend in Gary Williams, who stepped down last week after 22 seasons with the Terrapins. Turgeon has been a head coach at the NCAA level for 13 seasons and will begin his 25th season of coaching in some capacity this fall.

He’s had plenty of opportunities to hone his skills behind a microphone in his career. In fact, he’s had that many opportunities to say the right thing when accepting a new position.

While admitting that I had never watched a Mark Turgeon press conference or interview before in my life (with no offense to Texas A&M or Wichita State, there was just never a reason to be particularly concerned), I fully expected Turgeon to deliver in his first press conference.

The fact is Turgeon has been a good coach for an extended period of time.

That doesn’t happen by accident.

If Turgeon wouldn’t have come in and impressed from day one, there’s little chance Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson would have decided to make him the next coach. While smaller schools might have taken a chance on someone with lesser personality or charisma, a program like Maryland would not have needed to take such a risk.

With all of that being said-simply being a good coach will not be enough for Turgeon at this point.

He now needs to be a good coach for the University of Maryland.

It will not be fair to gauge Turgeon’s success based on what Williams accomplished over 22 seasons. Williams was unquestionably the best coach in program history, leading the program to never-before-seen heights, highlighted by the school’s only NCAA Championship in 2002.

But Turgeon knows well that Williams’ legacy will play a role in his ability to succeed in College Park. “I had to feel comfortable that he was going to accept me as the next coach” said the former TAMU coach, “and he has. And that’s real important.”

Should Turgeon be able to replicate his success with the Aggies now with the Terps, he would get off to a quick start in winning over fans in Baltimore and Washington.

Turgeon has won 20 or more games in seven of his last eight seasons and has made the NCAA Tournament in five of his last six.

While he has never advanced beyond the Sweet 16, his 2006 appearance is three seasons more recent than Williams’.

The reality is that simply being a good coach won’t quite be enough to succeed at Maryland.

While the Big-12 is a brutally difficult conference, battles with Kansas and Texas can’t quite gear a coach up for four games against Duke and North Carolina (Turgeon will have that unenviable task in his first season with Maryland).

The harsher reality is that an off-season at Maryland will be much more heavily scrutinized with the Terrapins than it ever would have been with the Aggies or Shockers.

While Texas A&M is a big school, the most significant basketball-related moments arguably happened when the guys from “Dude Perfect” chucked shots from the upper deck at Kyle Field.

A&M simply will never be a basketball school, and nothing happening on the hardwood in the Lone Star State will ever be as significant as what happens on a gridiron.

While WSU has become a significant player on the mid-major level, Wichita is not exactly a media hotbed and the school certainly doesn’t have the same number of current students or alumni, or nearly as large a current or potential fan base.

Maryland will be a much more difficult job.

The only troubling part of the Turgeon hire is his complete lack of connection to the University and nearly complete lack of connection to the Mid-Atlantic area.

To his credit, Turgeon said Wednesday he understood the importance of making a dent in the Mid-Atlantic.+

“I have really good relationships with the people in the area” said Turgeon. “I felt comfortable. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have taken the job. I feel like I’ve been on the phone with a lot of people, not all of them yet, but relationships through Kansas.”

It makes sense that during his time as an assistant for the Jayhawks, Turgeon would have worked the area a bit. He acknowledged that he had recruited current Texas A&M guard Naji Hibbert out of DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville to College Station. Hibbert is actually a Charm City native whose brother (Hakim Hibbert) played at Towson.

But Turgeon will have to do much more than that in the Maryland area to succeed at Maryland. There has been much pressure from the fanbase for Turgeon to keep at least part of Gary Williams’ staff in tact in order to recognize the significance of the area.

“I know I need to have a staff that has ties in this area up and down the East Coast” , he said Wednesday.And I have enough ties in the Midwest that I’ll still be able to do some things back in that area. So I don’t know where I am with my staff. I do know they’re going to have ties to this area.”

Retaining assistants Rob Ehsan and Bino Ranson would be a good start in reflecting the importance of the region. While Ehsan is a California native, he has made a significant impact in the Mid-Atlantic area.

New Jersey PG commit Sterling Gibbs has reportedly said keeping his commitment to the Terrapins is at least based in part in Ehsan returning to the staff. Ranson is a Baltimore native whose arrival in College Park immediately helped the Terps nail down another four star prospect in City College’s Nick Faust.

While Turgeon has put together a respectable staff in College Station, it would be a mistake to ignore the significance of the region in completing a new staff in College Park.

My best guess is that Mark Turgeon will find success as the head basketball coach at the University of Maryland. His track record indicates that he won’t have a problem winning almost immediately.

But if it happens, it will happen because Turgeon understands that there is a difference between being a good head coach and a great Maryland coach.

Hopefully Wednesday was the first step down that road.


NOTES: Turgeon’s press conference is available now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net……Anderson joined Glenn Clark and Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Tuesday on AM1570 WNST to discuss the hire, that chat is available in the Audio Vault as well……Ehsan, Ranson and Williams’ other assistant Keith Booth were all in attendance for Wednesday’s press conference. Also in attendance were football coach Randy Edsall, soccer coach Sasho Cirovski, women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese, University President Wallace Loh and former Terps F Tahj Holden

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Kevin Anderson

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Maryland AD Kevin Anderson on Mark Turgeon hiring: “it was all about hiring the best basketball coach for the University of Maryland”

Posted on 11 May 2011 by Ryan Chell

Back in December, new Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson was tasked with replacing a head coach who was not only an alum of the school but could be seen as an institution when it came to football coach Ralph Friedgen.

Anderson-who was hired back on September 4th, 2010- had to show off his skills as an adequate leader and decision-maker of the athletic department when it came to finding a new football coach for the Maryland program, and he indeed found at least a worthy candidate in former Big East coach of the Year in Randy Edsall.

But Anderson’s skills were to put even more to the test last week when longtime coach Gary Williams-a 22-year stalwart and the school’s winningest basketball coach; the man who led the Terps to the lone national championship in school history in 2002-abruptly announced his retirement leaving Anderson again with the task of finding another coach for a major program at Maryland.

And after the ceremony last Friday to thank Williams for his time in College Park, it was Anderson’s job to tour the country in search of the next man who would follow in Gary’s steps on the sidelines of the Comcast Center.

Kevin Anderson

Anderson-left in quite a predicament by Williams’ abrupt retirement-then went quickly to work in going through candidates to find the school’s next head coach.

And after several high-profile coaches turned down the offer to leave behind what they had at their respective schools, Anderson eventually found a candidate this week in Mark Turgeon, the basketball coach at Texas A&M who spent the last four years at College Station roving the sidelines in the Big 12.

Mark Turgeon

Turgeon will be introduced Wednesday afternoon, but before then, Anderson joined “The Mobtown Sports Beat” with Thyrl Nelson Tuesday to introduce his next coaching hire to Terrapin Nation.

“I want to thank my team at Maryland and the athletic department,” Anderson said. “They helped me out tremendously so we were able to go after this in a hurry and after a couple days we were able to hire Gary’s successor.”

The first question Nelson asked Anderson? Who’s the next Maryland team that needs Anderson to find them a coach?

“Hopefully there isn’t an encore,” Anderson laughed. “I believe that if everyone embraces Randy and Mark the way they’ve embraced me, we’ll all be fine here for quite a long time and be successful.”

Just from his interactions with Turgeon, Anderson knows already that he is the right man for the job.

“He’s a proven winner,” Anderson said. “Everywhere he’s gone, he’s had a program…that he’s basically taken from scratch or he’s made it better.”

Turgeon is 250-159 in his coaching career between Jacksonville State, Wichita State and the last four years at Texas A&M.

He directed the Aggies to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, and for his efforts was named Big 12 Coach of the Year the last two seasons.

He also holds the distinction of being the only coach in the history of the Big 12 with at least 24 wins in each of his first four seasons.

Anderson said that in occurrence-and this could be the first  in Turgeon’s 13-year coaching record-he has something to build off of at Maryland when it came to Gary Williams’ foundation as opposed to starting from scratch or having to clean up after someone.

“In this case,” Anderson said, “he’s going to come in here and he’s going to work on what Gary’s done and the legacy Gary has, so he’ll continue to build on that greatness.”

And in a way, Anderson said that already Turgeon has shown him the tenacity that he’s willing to fight for recruits in the Maryland-VA-DC area-something that was the biggest criticism of Turgeon’s predecessor at Maryland in Williams.

“The other thing is that he’s a competitor,” Anderson said. “He will back down from nobody.”

Anderson said that attribute may have been the biggest thing Turgeon brought to the table on his resume.

“I believe that was one of the most important attributes we could find in the next Maryland basketball coach because we play in a conference against some great coaches. I wanted somebody to come in here who was not only a good coach, but wasn’t going to be afraid to go after the top prize and not back down from anybody.”

“And that’s Mark Turgeon.”

And that’s where Anderson wanted to drive the point home. While Gary Williams had a hand in choosing his successor, and Anderson certainly was looking for candidates ready to carry on the legacy of Williams-he wanted to make it clear.

They were looking for the best coach to lead the University of Maryland basketball team forward.

“You don’t find the next Gary Williams because Gary Williams is an entity unto himself,” Anderson said. “He’s a very unique basketball coach.”

“But it was all about hiring the best basketball coach for the University of Maryland-one who’s going to take care of the student-athletes, who’s going to be demanding in the classroom and on the court.”

Anderson compared it to hiring Edsall replacing Ralph Friedgen.

“I would say that therea lot of the same characteristics that Randy Edsall and Mar share…Mark sees things the same way as Randy does and I do too,” Anderson noted.

Anderson hopes bringing in a quality guy to the coaching chair on the sidelines at Comcast will bring in the quality prep talent to the program as well.

“That’s what we kept talking about,” Anderson said. “If you hire quality people, you recruit quality kids. Nine times out of ten you’re going to be successful. That’s part of why he’s here now.”

The irony of it all?

All of this almost didn’t occur with Turgeon in the mountains of Pennsylvania over the weekend in a bad cell area. The initial phone to call to Turgeon from Anderson?

It didn’t connect.

“I reached out to Mark and didn’t get a return call,” Anderson said. “I didn’t think he would be interested. Well, what happened was he was camping with his family up in the Pennsylvania mountains but there was no cell service.”

“As soon as they came down the mountain, he hit voicemail and responded immediately. We connected Sunday night and here we are today.”

WNST thanks Kevin Anderson for joining “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to welcome in the new Maryland basketball coach, Mark Turgeon! Glenn Clark has you covered tomorrow as he is introduced! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @WNST!

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Tyrod Taylor

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Former VT QB and Ravens sixth-round draft pick Tyrod Taylor on backing up Flacco: “I can’t wait to learn from Joe”

Posted on 02 May 2011 by Ryan Chell

Ravens fans heard some of the rumors over this draft weekend that we may have seen the last of Marc Bulger in a Baltimore uniform should the NFL’s lockout be lifted.

The Arizona Cardinals appear to be ready to sign Bulger-the longtime NFL veteran of the St. Louis Rams who backed up Joe Flacco this year-to a contract when the teams are allowed to sign free agents pending a new CBA.

If the Ravens were to lose Bulger, it would absolutely create a gaping hole in the depth chart behind Flacco, and on Saturday, Baltimore’s personnel department made a move in the draft to ensure that they have at least one quarterback behind Flacco should Bulger decide to move on to Arizona or another NFL team.

Tyrod Taylor

With the 180th pick in the sixth round of this weekend’s draft, the Ravens selected Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor-a 6-foot, 217 pound quarterback who started all four years for the Hokies  in Blacksburg.

Taylor joined Thyrl Nelson of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to talk about becoming a Raven and taking the short drive up I-95 to begin his NFL career.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Taylor told Nelson. “But there’s still a lot to learn, and I can’t wait to learn from Joe Flacco.”

“It’s always good to get drafted by a team close by so I can keep track of the Hokies and stay close to home for the family.”

In his four years playing for Frank Beamer starting 41 of 49 games for Virginia Tech, Taylor finished with 6,795 passing yards, 43 TDs to just 19 INTs.

He really put it together in 2010, earning ACC Player of the Year honors while passing for 2,521 yards, 23 TD and 4 INTs.

His passing yardage, 2,174 rushing yards and 23 rushing scores over his Hokie career also set school records, and it shows that his versatility being able to throw the ball as well as make a play with a legs can help the Ravens offense move the chains.

If Ravens fans want to make a correlation, you can compare Taylor to that of a Troy Smith.

Taylor hopes that the Ravens use all his physical skills as an asset.

“Will the Ravens plan plays just for me? I want to help out any way I can,” Taylor said.

Taylor’s biggest concern coming into the draft was the lack of a proven track record playing at VT.

Despite his stellar numbers as a Hokie his senior year, most of those numbers came too late in his college career for NFL scouts to give him due notice.

That was one of the reasons why he lasted till the sixth round when the Ravens took a chance on him and his athletic ability.

“Going into it, my agent and I talked about what might happen,” Taylor said. “It was disappointing to slip to the sixth round. I was hoping for the third, fourth, or fifth.”

In a way, it was his post-season work after the page was turned on his college career  that caught NFL GM’s eyes the most, especially January’s East-West Shrine Game where Taylor completed four of five passes for 59 yards.

“Early in the process looking at the numbers, some teams had mixed feelings,” Taylor said of his visits. “But I think after evaluating film, teams changed their minds about me, especially after the East-West Shrine Game.”

Still, the biggest question mark for Taylor will be if he can be a pocket-passer in the NFL who relies on his arm first-and his legs second.

Taylor answered that doubt with all the confidence in the world.

“It shouldn’t be hard for me,” Taylor said. “It’s just learning the reads and trust in the system. Be yourself and move the chains.”

The Ravens see him as a quarterback as well.

“We feel like he has the skill sets to play quarterback and he also brings the added dimension of being a terrific athlete that can-as we see so much now-get out of the pocket and hurt people,” Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said Saturday after the draft was completed.

Taylor said he already has that chip on his shoulder for being drafted so low over the weekend by the Ravens.

Could there be a comparison to another big-time college quarterback who had to wait till the sixth round in Tom Brady?

“With him being drafted in the sixth round also, I also feel motivated to prove them wrong. Ten quarterbacks were drafted ahead of me, so again, it’s all motivation,” Taylor said.

But, at least he’s not motivated to take #5 away from his incumbent teammate after having it at Virginia Tech the last several years.

“It’s Flacco’s number,” Taylor laughed, “so I’ll change it.”

WNST welcomes a former ACC-rival in Tyrod Taylor to Baltimore! Check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault for the chat with Tyrod as well as many of your other Ravens draft picks! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Jah Reid

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Live From Owings Mills: “Smith” Ravens’ 2nd Pick, Terps’ Torrey Adds New Chapter to Amazing Story

Posted on 29 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Let me start with some full disclosure. I’m a University of Maryland alum and an unabashed supporter of the Terrapins football program.

I’ll follow with further full disclosure. There was no prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft that I was more familiar with than former Terps WR Torrey Smith. You probably won’t remember this gem of an “interview” from the team’s 2010 Media Day in College Park…

On top of that, I coordinated a weekly appearance between Smith and AM1570 host Thyrl Nelson every Tuesday since January on “The Mobtown Sports Beat.”

Now that it’s all out there, I’ll speak freely.

And after looking past a lengthy rap-sheet to select Colorado CB Jimmy Smith in the first round, the Baltimore Ravens grabbed an amazing human being in the 2nd-round (58th pick overall) by selecting their second Smith of the week.

(They’re of course hoping he pans out to be just as good of a football player at the NFL level as well.)

Smith’s story is well-known amongst Maryland fans, and will quickly become just as known amongst similar Ravens fans who gobbled up everything Michael Oher and “The Blind Side” related two seasons ago.

As detailed in an incredible Washington Post story by Eric Prisbell (Head Coach John Harbaugh said Friday night he was “choked up” and “proud” of Smith after just reading the article), Smith’s childhood was impossibly difficult.

Smith was born three months early, undersized with meningitis and jaundice. He was rushed to an incubator and lived the first 10 weeks of his life in a hospital.

Smith’s childhood would leave him witness to a scene where his mother, Monica, was held at gunpoint by her then-husband and Smith was immediately forced to help raise his younger siblings as early as the age of four.

As recently as 2010, Smith’s mother had faced up to ten years in prison stemming from a fight with her daughter-in-law (a plea agreement would help prevent the lengthy sentence).

As I said, I’d suggest you read the story.

“You saw the celebration (after the pick was announced) when they had Torrey on TV?” asked Harbaugh following the 2nd round. “I want you to know there was a bigger celebration in our Draft room when we got this player.”

The Ravens are clearly excited about adding Smith’s size, speed and resume to a receiving corps that already features multiple Pro Bowl performers in Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin. Smith measured in at 6’1″, 204 pounds and clocked a 4.41 time in the forty yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. During three seasons in College Park, he tallied 2,281 yards from scrimmage and 20 offensive touchdowns to go with 2,983 return yards and three additional TD’s.

Some scouts thought he had first-round talent, but some questions about his route-running forced him to drop into the second.

The Ravens were grateful to find him there.

“He can peal the top off a defense,” said General Manager Ozzie Newsome. “He brings that added dimension to our pass game. [Quarterback] Joe [Flacco] is a deep-thrower. Joe has the ability to throw the deep ball…he has the arm strength to do it. Now we’re giving Joe an additional weapon and that opens up our passing game.”

Newsome would go on jokingly to label Smith as a “3-point shooter” in the Ravens offense: “At any point if the ball gets in his hands, Billy [Cundiff] is coming out to kick an extra point.”

The deep-ball was sorely missing from the Ravens offense last year. The team had just seven passing plays of 40-plus yards-Mason led the team with two-during 16 regular season games and then recorded none in the postseason.

After finding out his football future would lead him up the road to Charm City, Smith told reporters he knew his character would help his transition.

“I knew the way I am as a person…the way I play fit the way they do things up there,” he said.

As much as the Ravens will benefit from the addition of Smith on the field, they will absolutely benefit from the addition of a man like Torrey Smith in their locker room as well.

Former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen said of Smith in the Post story, “God created a perfect person.”

The Ravens might settle for a good guy. And a really good receiver.

: The Ravens dealt their third round pick (90th overall) and one of two sixth round picks (191st overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles to move up five spots and select Central Florida OT Jah Reid in the 3rd round (85th overall).

Jah Reid

Reid (6’7″, 327 pounds) was described by Newsome as a “fast-riser” on the Ravens draft board following his performance at this year’s East-West Shrine Game in Orlando.

The Ravens will start the 2010 first-team All-Conference-USA selection at RT, where he will find a bit of a crowd. Jared Gaither missed all of 2010 with a back injury and could reach free agency depending on the resolution of the CBA-dispute between the league and the NFLPA.

Marshal Yanda is a restricted free agent (expected to return) who performed admirably filling in for Gaither but Harbaugh has said the team would prefer to move him back to his more natural right guard position.

Oniel Cousins and Tony Moll have not shown themselves as viable options to play significantly. 2010 6th-round pick Ramon Harewood also missed the entire season needing surgery on both knees.

When asked what the Ravens liked about Reid, Harbaugh said: “he is long, he is powerful and he can bend.”

NOTES: The Ravens will receive no compensation from the National Football League or the Chicago Bears following a miscue during the attempt of a first-round trade. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “encouraged” the Bears to give the Ravens a 4th round pick, but the Bears chose not to do so……The Ravens are scheduled to introduce Jimmy Smith and Torrey Smith to reporters at an 11am press conference Saturday at 1 Winning Drive……The Ravens are slated to make five picks on Saturday. They currently hold one fourth round pick (123rd overall), two compensatory fifth round picks (164th and 165th overall), one sixth round pick (180th overall, acquired from the St. Louis Rams in last year’s Mark Clayton deal) and one seventh round pick (225th overall, acquired from the Eagles in last year’s Antwan Barnes deal)……Hear from Newsome, Harbaugh, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and Torrey Smith now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net


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A Final Week of Private Workouts As Draft Season Nears Culmination

Posted on 23 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

We’re less than a week away from the kickoff of the NFL Draft (Thursday night-8pm-ESPN & NFL Network), but we’ve already seen the end of Private workout season, as the Ravens hosted their final private workouts this week.

Now GM Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz, Head Coach John Harbaugh, Owner Steve Bisciotti, Team President Dick Cass, VP of Football Administation Pat Moriarty and the entire scouting staff will be involved in the process before the team makes their first pick.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Mikel Leshoure (Illinois), Darren Evans (Virginia Tech), Stevan Ridley (LSU)
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska), Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State)
TEWill Yeatman (Maryland)
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), DeMarcus Love (Arkansas), James Brewer (Indiana)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor), Will Rackley (Lehigh)
CZane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), Sam Acho (Texas), Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State), Christian Ballard (Iowa), Ricky Elmore (Arizona)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland), Akeem Dent (Georgia), Justin Houston (Georgia)
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida), Will Hill (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford), Brandon Burton (Utah), Curtis Marsh (Utah State), Chris Culliver (South Carolina), Buster Skrine (Chattanooga)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8, 9 & 10-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days
Part 11-Players the Ravens have shown direct interest in

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects-all of whom have been shown special attention by the Ravens during Draft season. (Reported by WNST.net, National Football Post, Carroll County Times, Baltimore Sun, Pro Football Weekly or others.)

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, NFL.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

DT Corey Liuget (Illinois)

It might have surprised some to see that Liuget had visited Owings Mills for a meeting with the Ravens. The team has PLENTY of depth on the D-Line (with the exception of rush end). Behind Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg and Cory Redding, the team has the likes of Brandon McKinney, Terrence Cody, Arthur Jones, Lamar Divens and Kelly Talavou to play the position.

Liuget remains an intriguing prospect. He’s an outstanding gap filler at 6’2″, 298; and even managed eight sacks during his career with the Fighting Illini-five of those coming in 2010.

Liuget is expected to come off the board as early as the mid-teens in the first round. Should he fall, the Ravens would find themselves with a difficult decision-as it would be hard to imagine they have many players higher on their board than a player with Liuget’s ability.

Liuget has been a steady riser during Draft season. The Ravens have to be impressed by the fact that he’s capable of playing in both the three and the five technique-and his Pro Day workout in Champaign was reportedly quite impressive.

He might not seem to fight an immediate need-but he simply can’t be ruled out as the Ravens’ first round choice.

CB Justin Rogers (Richmond)


If you’ve been following my Draft updates, you should be well aware of the Ravens’ issues at Cornerback.

Josh Wilson, Chris Carr and Fabian Washington are slated to become unrestricted free agents. Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent. Domonique Foxworth missed the entire 2010 season due to a torn ACL.

The team is going to have to address the defensive secondary SOMEHOW during the offseason-by retaining their own players or adding new ones (or more likely a combination of both).

Rogers recently visited 1 Winning Drive, giving the Ravens a chance to take a better look at the CAA prospect. His size (5’11”, 180 pounds) is not exceptional, but his 4.40 Pro Day 40 time certainly is.

His Spiders career was certainly exceptional as well, as he finished his four seasons with 12 interceptions (three of which were returned for touchdowns.) He showed himself plenty capable of being a matchup corner-albeit against FCS competition.

He’s not going to come off the board until Saturday. Most pundits believe the team will have picked a corner before then-but it doesn’t rule out the possibility that the team could still add Rogers.

LB Akeem Ayers (UCLA)

The Ravens certainly aren’t the only team that has shown interest in Ayers, as half the league (or more) has hosted the former Bruins backer. But it doesn’t change the fact that the interest in Ayers from General Manager Ozzie Newsome and the team is genuine.

That being said, Ayers isn’t a perfect fit for Chuck Pagano’s defense. While he’s shown an ability to get after quarterbacks (11 sacks during his career in Los Angeles), he can’t be fairly expected to be a true “rush backer.”

Of course, the Ravens already have one of those players in LB Terrell Suggs, so they’re really only in need of a complement to T-Sizzle.

Ayers is a more complete standup backer, as he added 6 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) to his numbers at UCLA. He has mammoth size (6’3″, 254 pounds) and pretty good speed to boot (4.69 40 at his Pro Day).

As the Ravens look to address their rush early in the draft, they’ll have to decide on whether they’re looking for more of a down lineman or a stand-up backer. My guess is that they’re looking for more of a hybrid-as it will allow them to keep LB Jarret Johnson on the field significantly-but slide a rusher back in obvious passing situations.

Ayers likely won’t stick around until the team’s 2nd round choice (at 58). The team will probably have to pull the trigger at 26 or miss out.

(Ayers joined Rex Snider on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST Thursday, that chat can be heard in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

G/C Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State)

If selected by the Ravens, Wisniewski would not be the first Wisniewski to play Pro Football in Charm City.

His father (Leo Wisniewski) was selected by the Baltimore Colts in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft. His family tree is rooted in NFL tradition, as his uncle (Steve Wisniewski) was an eight time Pro Bowl guard for the LA/Oakland Raiders and still an assistant O-Line coach for the team.

Clearly football is in his blood.

The Ravens could be well served to add the 6’3″, 313 pound interior lineman to their O-Line. Wisniewski played more Guard in Happy Valley, but many teams believe he will be a Center at the NFL level.

The Ravens have flux at both positions, as G Marshal Yanda is a restricted free agent-but could be asked to return to OT should unrestricted free agent Jared Gaither depart. While C Matt Birk decided to return this season, he is widely expected to be playing in his final NFL season. G/C Chris Chester is also a restricted free agent, but isn’t widely viewed as a “Center of the future” type.

Wisniewski is likely to be a Friday night pick. It would be easy to imagine new Offensive Line coach Andy Moeller rooting to add a player with the bloodlines of a Wisniewski.

DE Robert Quinn (North Carolina)

The word “interesting” doesn’t even begin to describe Quinn as a NFL Draft prospect.

Quinn is likely better known for his off the field history coming into his pro career than he is for his on field ability. He was suspended for the 2010 season after the NCAA determined he had lied to investigators about receiving improper travel accommodations and jewelry.

When asked how the scandal could affect Quinn (and former UNC teammates Marvin Austin & Greg Little) at the Ravens’ annual Pre-Draft Luncheon, Newsome pointed out the Ravens had an advantage because Pagano was the DC in Chapel Hill back in 2007.

Quinn is widely believed to be a Top 10 talent in this year’s draft class-but the off field trouble has left in doubt where he will end up being selected. That’s where the Ravens come in. Should he continue to fall, the team would have the opportunity to select him at 26th or even consider moving up a few spots to get him.

Quinn has the physique of the type of rush end the Ravens are interested in adding to their defense. He’s 6’4″, 265 pounds and has really good speed (4.59 40 at his Pro Day). In two seasons with the Tar Heels, he tallied 13 sacks-11 of which came in 2009.

As well as addressing the off field trouble, the Ravens have to determine whether or not the year off will also hurt Quinn on the field.

If he slides, it will be awfully difficult decision on whether or not the team should take the chance.

LB Jonathan Cornell (Mississippi)

Despite the fact that only a few players in the history of the NFL have even been worthy of being mentioned in the same SENTENCE as future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis, the words “heir apparent to Ray Lewis” tend to get thrown around frequently during Draft season.

It ultimately is never fair to any Inside Linebacker the Ravens select, which Tavares Gooden has found out in recent years.

Gooden, Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain have failed to nail down the WILL LB spot next to the perennial Pro Bowler, and Jason Phillips hasn’t been able to work his way on the field regularly. We also know Lewis won’t be around forever…even if it feels like he might be.

At 6’1″, 236 pounds; some scouts are going to label Cornell as “undersized.” Of course, some of those same scouts said the same thing about that former Miami Hurricanes LB in 1996. Cornell certainly showed an ability to make tackles, finishing his Rebels career with 215 tackles and eight sacks. His 4.76 forty time at his Pro Day in Oxford had to be considered at least a bit disappointing.

There’s no guarantee that Cornell gets drafted at all. Ellerbe and McClain both made the team’s roster out of Training Camp after not being selected. The Ravens will be a bit more hamstrung in the late rounds of this year’s Draft, as they will be unable to sign undrafted free agents until the NFL’s labor dispute is resolved.

With that in mind, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company will know that it might be more necessary than ever to not risk exposing a player like Cornell to a prolonged post-Draft free agency period.

DE Jabaal Sheard (Pitt)

Sometimes a team finds red flags in a player that concern them as they make a decision in whether or not they should be drafted.

Other times a team finds positive attributes that make the decision to draft the player a true slam dunk.

In the case of Sheard…well…there’s…both? From the Carroll County Times…

“He was arrested last summer for felony aggravated assault and resisting arrest after an altercation in a bar where he threw a man through a glass door. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, was ordered to apologize and pay medical bills. He was suspended from the team for two weeks as well as internal discipline.

He was awarded a medal for bravery years ago for helping an elderly woman escape from a burning home.”

When not getting arrested or helping elderly women from their homes, Sheard has been a hell of a pass rusher for the Panthers. He’s tallied 19 sacks over the last three seasons, and is viewed as a player who could stand up or put his hand in the dirt at the next level.

Sheard is a beast of a man, measuring in at 6’3″, 264 pounds and clocking in with a 4.68 forty time at the Combine. Scouts have been impressed with his bull rush abilities and the way he handled double teams when teammate Greg Romeus got hurt in 2010.

The Ravens are expected to address DE/OLB early in the Draft. Sheard is unlikely to stick around until the 58th pick and might not be a stretch at all should he come off the board at 26.

WR Greg Little (North Carolina)

So remember all of those things I said about Quinn? Let’s repeat them for Little.

It’s hard to imagine how the year off will affect him, but we do not it took away an opportunity for him to prove himself as a superior pass-catcher.

Little played just a season and a half at receiver after starting his ACC career at Running Back. He finished his UNC career with 1,774 yards of total offense and 12 combined touchdowns. But the only numbers scouts can really use in considering his potential NFL ability are his 62 catches for 724 yards and five TD’s in 2009.

Ironically, Little has good size (6’3″, 231 pounds) but only decent speed (4.51 forty at the Combine). Unfortunately, he’s never really established himself as an outside or over the top receiver, so teams are hard pressed to determine whether or not he’ll be able to be much more than a slot option.

The Ravens probably have receivers like Little on the roster already. He’s similar to Anquan Boldin, certainly thicker than Derrick Mason. The team will have tough decisions to make with unrestricted free agents T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth, but neither are really expected back in Charm City next season.

The team is more likely to think big and fast when it comes to receiver upgrades, as they desperately need to stretch the field vertically and extend the field horizontally. The team could use more than one receiver in their upgrade process, which could be where Little fits the picture.

If the team doesn’t go receiver early in the Draft, they could certainly consider grabbing Little on Friday night and trying to use free agency (which should be coming…eventually) to add a superior playmaker to their corps.

G/C Mike Pouncey (Florida)

One AFC scout said this to me about the predicament the Ravens could find themselves in when it comes to Pouncey at 26.

“Well…they’d have to take him…they couldn’t afford the risk of him joining his brother in Pittsburgh.”

Clearly that doesn’t ACTUALLY mean the Ravens would have to select Pouncey at 26, but it is a tough decision they’d face. The Ravens have struggled to get consistent pressure on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger over the years, which has allowed for Pittsburgh to dominate the AFC North. Every decision they make this offseason must be made knowing the road to the Super Bowl will go directly through the Steel City.

Should Mike Pouncey join his brother Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers’ O-Line would clearly become that much stronger. It would also make the Ravens’ road to Super Bowl XLVI even more difficult.

That being said, the Ravens’ interest in Pouncey isn’t solely based on keeping him out of Pittsburgh. Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron would be well served to add a player of Pouncey’s size (6’5″, 303) and ability to his O-Line. Pouncey is more likely to begin his career at guard than center; and the Ravens could ultimately shift Yanda to tackle should Gaither depart and stick with Pouncey at RG. The move would also give them a potential “center of the future” should Birk retire following the season.

Most scouts believe Pouncey isn’t quite as NFL ready as his brother was, but it’s hard too many rookies being as NFL ready as his brother was. Few scouts doubt the fact that Pouncey is an outstanding talent however, which is why he could go off at the board at 26 or earlier.

Head Coach John Harbaugh spent real time with Pouncey at the NFL Combine. The other head coach Pouncey said he spent real time with in Indy?

Mike Tomlin…of course.

K Kemar Scarlett (Morgan State)


Scarlett gained attention in recent weeks after a lengthy ESPN.com profile and an appearance with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST recently. (That interview can be heard in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

The Ravens visited Scarlett’s Pro Day over on Hillen Road, but make no mistake-they’re very happy with their own kicker (Billy Cundiff) and they have no interest in Scarlett or any other kicker available in this year’s Draft. It’s certainly a refreshing change for Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg after the last two offseasons.

That being said, Scarlett had a nice career for the Bears; connecting on 27 of 34 field goal attempts, including two 47 yard boots during his senior season.

Scarlett will have an opportunity to play football professionally…it just isn’t going to start with him hearing his name called in the NFL Draft.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…


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Zach Britton

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Orioles rookie pitcher Zach Britton on surprise call-up and debut: “I’m happy to be here”

Posted on 07 April 2011 by Ryan Chell

For all the debate going into spring training as to whether prized pitching prospect Zach Britton would join the big league club at the start of the season and fit right into the starting rotation, that argument came to an end last weekend when one of the Orioles’ highly touted rookie made his major league debut against the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday in a 5-1 victory.

Zach Britton

Britton, a third round pick by the Orioles in the 2006 MLB Draft out of high school, quickly made the rise throughout Baltimore’s minor league system.

He quickly earned national prominence as the Orioles’ top-rated prospect, and was the 10th best in the nation according to an early Baseball America poll.

And he put the numbers up in spring training to back those opinions.

And after going 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA in Sarasota in five games, Oriole fans-and now we know the coaching staff had similar desires-wanted Britton to join the 25-man roster and the Orioles’ five-man pitching rotation.

And at the expense of fellow teammate Brian Matusz going on the DL with a back injury, he was able to do so Sunday versus the Rays and make the most of it.

Britton in six innings of work allowed only three hits, one run, while striking out six for his first ever major league win.

His performance completed the three-game sweep of the defending AL East Champion Rays, and on top of piggy-backing fellow “rookie” Chris Tillman’s six no-hit innings on Saturday, his performance set the team up for success in the hope-opener against Detroit Monday this week-another 5-1 win by Baltimore.

Britton joined “The Mobtown Sports Beat” with Thyrl Nelson Tuesday on the Orioles off-day as both he and his team’s emotions have been riding high given the team’s surprising start.

“I’m just excited to be here,” Britton told Nelson. “You know, it’s been pretty exciting the last couple days, especially with Opening Day. We’re riding a pretty good streak right now. Hopefully, we’ll continue it.”

Britton told Nelson that he had some jitters going into Sunday’s game playing in a professional stadium like Tropicana Field, and if there was any criticism of Britton’s performance on Sunday-it could have been problems with control and his pitch count at times.

Britton backed up that argument, and said that his adrenaline may have got the best of him in some key situations.

“It’s all about sharpening my command,” Britton said. “I wasn’t happy with the three walks.”

But, Britton said he’s never been a negative person, and his manager in Buck Showalter told him that looking at the things that went wrong in a special event for him would just be the wrong thing to do.

“Once I get a couple starts under my belt, then I’ll start looking at the negatives,” the Orioles rookie said. “The first couple starts I’m just going to look at the things I did well and things I can improve on like throwing strikes…making sure I’m being aggressive and making them beat me, not beating myself.”

It was also a testament to Britton’s character regarding the fact that he rebounded from being sent down the week before to having to quickly adjust being mentally prepared to face a big-league ball-club.

“I’m happy to be here,” he said. “With the situation that happened in camp, I understood the decision was just business, and they told me I wasn’t going to be down in Norfolk very long, and I wasn’t down there at all.”

Britton’s next start will come Friday versus another AL Champion-in this case the pennant-winning Texas Rangers.

And ever since taking in both his first ever win and start on Sunday to enjoying the environment of Opening Day the following afternoon, his focus has solely been on that Texas lineup of Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Adrian Beltre.

But yet, he’s not going to get himself worked up by the next step in his progression as an Orioles starting pitcher.

“When it’s my turn to get out there, it’s business as usual. I’m not trying to psych myself up or over-hype the hitters. I’m just going to try to go out there and pitch my game,” Britton replied.

And when fellow southpaw Brian Matusz finally does become healthy yet again, he hopes that the team will be far enough along that welcoming him back will be the best thing that could happen.

“Unfortunately Brian got hurt but I’m just hoping to fill in and when he does get back, we’ll have a pretty good rotation,” Britton said. “We’re looking forward to getting him back hopefully so he can continue what we started.”

WNST thanks Zach Britton for joining us to talk about the start of the season and hope to continue following his progress in an Oriole uniform! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Pro Days Nearly in Books as Draft Season Begins Home Turn

Posted on 06 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

With only Notre Dame left amongst significant Pro Timing Days this season, NFL Draft season is now headed to pro facilities, as teams will host private meetings with prospects.

This of course is all happening despite the fact that the league and the players are battling in court in Minneapolis.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss)
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech)
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska)
TEWill Yeatman (Maryland)
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor)
CZane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland)
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8 & 9-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects whose schools have already held their Pro Timing Days.

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, NFL.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

DE Sam Acho (Texas)

Acho became an interesting name in Charm City when he told us at the Combine he had met with the Ravens. Clearly the team had gone down the “Longhorns pass rusher” road recently (see Kindle, Sergio), and they desperately need a rush end.

Acho is a 6’2″, 262 pound beast who tallied eight sacks in each his junior and senior seasons in Austin. He has decent speed (he posted a 4.67 forty yard dash at the Combine and sat on the number at his Pro Day) and has shown the ability to be a solid pass rusher at the college level.

The Ravens will have to figure out if that can translate to a level in the NFL that allows him to partner up with LB Terrell Suggs to get after quarterbacks.

If Kindle’s off-field issues scare fans into thinking the team should avoid all former ‘Horns defenders altogether, consider some of Acho’s accomplishments.

-William V. Campbell Trophy winner (nation’s top football student-athlete)
-2010 Wuerffel Trophy (all-around excellence in athletic, academic and community achievement)
-ARA Sportsmanship Award
-UT’s seventh two-time Academic All-American
-member of the 2010 AFCA Good Works Team
-2010 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete
-finalist for the 2010 Lott IMPACT Trophy and Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award

The Ravens will have to decide whether Acho’s on-field ability warrants a late Thursday or early Friday selection, but they shouldn’t be concerned about him away from the field at all.

(Acho joined Thyrl Nelson last week on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST, make sure you hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net if you missed him!)

RB Mikel Leshoure (Illinois)

I would be FLOORED if the Ravens selected Leshoure with the 26th pick in the Draft. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Ravens selected him in the 2nd round should he be available.

Leshoure is a 6’0″, 227 pound back with solid speed (4.56 40) who exploded on the scene in 2010. Leshoure posted nearly 1,900 yards of total offense and 20 total touchdowns after totaling just over 900 yards in 2009.

Seeing the way NFL teams have considered the number of touches a back has at the college level more and more, Leshoure decided to leave Champaign a year early and keep as much tread on his tires as possible.

The Ravens will need to overhaul their backfield this offseason. RB Willis McGahee is expected to be let go, FB Le’Ron McClain could depart as an unrestricted free agent. The team needs to figure out how to pair someone with their undersized superstar Ray Rice to carry them offensively.

Leshoure’s size could make him a decent complement paired with Rice.

But I would still only expect it to be possible if Leshoure slips to 58th.

LB Akeem Dent (Georgia)

The Ravens have issues at Inside Linebacker.

They have a future Hall of Famer at one position (Ray Lewis) who-while still performing at a Pro Bowl level-is not getting any younger.

Lining up next to him, the team has attempted to see Tavares Gooden, Dannell Ellerbe or Jameel McClain nail down a spot-but none of them have done so.

They have to find some better answers at ILB.

Dent recently met with Ravens LB Dean Pees, meaning the team is at least considering a Saturday selection on the former Bulldogs backer. He’s 6’1″, 242 pounds with underwhelming speed (4.78), but he capped his career with Athens with an exceptional 122 tackle, three sack, two forced fumble senior campaign.

There’s nothing about Dent in particular that really makes him stand out-but he’s been productive against SEC offenses and has shown decent character.

For a team needing help at the position, that might be all that’s necessary.

QB Ricky Stanzi (Iowa)

When Gil Brandt reported that the Ravens’ QB coach attended Stanzi’s Pro Day in Iowa City, I will admit that I was a bit confused.

Jim Zorn has since taken over the same role with the Kansas City Chiefs, leaving Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron and Offensive Assistant Craig Ver Steeg to split the responsibilities of working with Joe Flacco.

It is believed (from the folks in Owings Mills I talked to) that Ver Steeg was the coach working with Stanzi at Iowa’s Pro Day. It’s certainly a sign that the team is legitimately considering Stanzi as an option should backup Marc Bulger depart (or perhaps even if he ends up returning).

Stanzi had a solid career for the Hawkeyes, compiling a 3,000 yard senior season to finish off a 7,377 yard/56 TD career. He has solid size (6’4″, 223 pounds) and while he isn’t quick, he did improve his 40 time to 4.93 at Pro Day.

There will likely be some concerns still lingering from a 2009 ankle injury that forced him to miss time, but he didn’t miss a game in 2010.

The Ravens probably won’t even think about quarterbacks until Saturday-as they are not looking for someone who will need to play (unless there’s an emergency situation) in 2011. If Stanzi remains on the board after three rounds, he will have to at least be a consideration.

CB Brandon Burton (Utah)

This won’t be the first time I will have written about the Ravens’ CB situation as they (eventually) enter the offseason.

CB’s Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington are all unrestricted free agents. CB Domonique Foxworth is coming off of an ACL injury that cost him the entire season. CB Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent.

As of this moment, the team has Lardarius Webb, Marcus Paschal and Danny Gorrer as healthy players under contract. They’re going to have to do SOMETHING at the position-although we all expect Foxworth and at least one of the UFA’s to be back in the mix.

Burton is a 6’0″, 190 pound corner who produced solid if not spectacular numbers during three seasons with the Utes. He finished his career with 97 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and three interceptions.

Clearly those numbers were skewed at least a bit by the fact that Mountain West opponents learned not to throw in his direction quite as much.

Burton has decent speed (he shaved his 40 time down to 4.50 at his Salt Lake City Pro Day), but a quicker time might have made him a first round possibility. Instead, he’ll likely be a player the Ravens can consider adding to Chuck Pagano’s defense on Friday night.

RB Darren Evans (Virginia Tech)

Evans only did positional workouts at his Pro Day in Blacksburg, deciding to sit on all of his workout numbers from the Combine.

The decision-much like his decision to leave Va Tech with a year of eligibility left-could certainly be considered questionable.

While his Hokies’ teammate Ryan Williams is all but a sure thing to be a Friday night pick, there is certainly no guarantee Evans will be selected at all. He has decent size (6’0″, 227 pounds) and speed (4.56 40), but the ACL injury that cost him his entire 2009 season will certainly leave personnel folks (like Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome) wary of using a pick on him.

Evans was tremendous in 2008, rushing for 1,265 yards and 11 TD’s. He bounced back for a decent season in 2010, posting 854 yards and another 11 TD’s. He clearly made the decision to leave school out of fear that he would take too much “tread off his tires”, which has become a significant concern for NFL teams who tend to lower the life expectancy for a running back every year.

Evans might be the type of back that could complement someone like Rice, but he’d likely have to come in as a late round pick (or Undrafted Free Agent…if teams are ever able to sign those) and compete for a job behind Rice, Jalen Parmele and whoever else the team brings back in the backfield.

DE Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State)


I think we all expect the Ravens to have addressed the need for a rush end early in the Draft, but I certainly wouldn’t rule out the possibility that they could consider selecting multiple Ends during the course of the weekend.

Winterswyk is an intriguing late round prospect. He measures in at 6’4″, 268 pounds and shaved his 40 time down to the 4.80 range at his Pro Day (according to the National Football Post) after a disappointing 4.96 at the Combine.

Winterswyk garnered plenty of attention during his junior season, tallying nine sacks for the Broncos and establishing himself as the type of player who could be a serious threat off the edge at the next level.

That excitement died down a bit in 2010, as Winterswyk managed only two sacks during his senior campaign.

The Ravens certainly couldn’t use a Saturday selection on the former BSU rusher and assume that they had solved their issues on the edge. But if they used an early pick on an End (or waited to address the issue if and when free agency finally begins), Winsterswyk could certainly be an interesting project for Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company to consider.

WR Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State)

I’ll say what you’re thinking…yes, there’s reason to compare Sanzenbacher to former Ravens receiver Brandon Stokley.

But there’s no guarantee that a Stokley-type receiver is what the Ravens need right now to complete their receiving corps.

The team will be looking for a downfield speed threat as WR Donte’ Stallworth (unrestricted free agent) may well depart following a season where he was unable to get into the mix offensively.

Sanzenbacher (5’11”, 182 pounds) could be the type to fill that role-but will initially be looked at as more of a possession receiver with a speed threat (4.48 40 at his Pro Day).

The Ravens will return two possession receivers at the top of their corps (Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason), meaning size and speed will be what they are most looking for in a receiver.

Should they address those issues by selecting a Jon Baldwin-type receiver early in the draft, Sanzenbacher could be an additional option on Saturday to further bolster Cameron’s offense.

QB Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)

At 6’5″, 251 pounds; Johnson certainly has the LOOK of a NFL quarterback. At times during his career with the Aggies, he certainly showed off the skills necessary to be a NFL quarterback as well.

Unfortunately, his career in College Station ended with him on the bench due to a shoulder injury. Coach Mike Sherman’s staff lost faith in Johnson’s arm strength-and those questions have clearly lingered over his performance during Draft season.

Johnson has a unique mix of size and athleticism, and managed to throw for over 8,000 yards and 67 touchdowns before ending up on the bench. He had a particularly prolific junior season, completing 296 of 497 attempts for 3,579 yards with 30 TD’s and just eight interceptions.

Johnson could be particularly interesting on Saturday (or as an undrafted free agent) to Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and a Ravens team that will be looking for depth behind Flacco but not for someone who would need to step in and play anytime soon barring emergency.

OT DeMarcus Love (Arkansas)


Not only has the situation with OT Jared Gaither not been resolved, we’re absolutely no closer to having any true understanding of how the team’s tackle position might shake out.

The team could still decide to retain their former supplemental pick despite the injury issues that cost him the entire 2010 season. They could choose to allow the unrestricted free agent to sign elsewhere and sign or draft another tackle. They could let Gaither depart and re-sign OL Marshal Yanda to play tackle. They could choose to elevate a Tony Moll or Oniel Cousins to the position.

Get the picture?

Love (6’4″, 315 pounds) could be an option for the Ravens at tackle or guard as the team considers how they’ll shape their O-Line opposite LT Michael Oher and LG Ben Grubbs.

Love certainly showed his ability to handle top rushers as an All-SEC performer for the Razorbacks; but struggled against top talent during Senior Bowl week in Mobile.

He’ll probably be a late Friday/early Saturday selection and will certainly be an interesting prospect for a Ravens team needing changes along the line.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…


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