Friday, March 30, 2012

Track Season - More Evaluations

If plans go well, I will be at the Hilliard Davidson Relays tomorrow. "Plans go well" means reasonably good weather and some good competition. I believe the meet is all relays, which means alot of competitors to evaluate. That is good for me.

Track has been one of my favorite sports, not only to coach, but also to watch. If evaluating football players, you see alittle bit of everything.

Speed and burst is evident in the sprints and relays. In the relays, I also like to watch the exchanges and the toughness in the third and fourth legs. For me I like to watch the starts in the sprints. Here you get to watch how an athlete handles the stress and also he concentrates. Watching a football player run the straightaway in the 200 can tell you alot. Most people like the finish line, but the start can tell me alot about a football prospect.

The quarter-milers are an interesting group. Sometimes, in football a wide receiver runs a sub 4.5 once in a while. Quartermilers may never do that, but he usually runs a 4.65 everytime. Of course, we are talking about sub 50-second runners. The 4X400 team is usually made up of tough competitors. I like to see football players on that team.

Usually , not too many football players are into the distance races. Every once in a while, a football player may be in the 800, but not often.

The throwers can tell you alot about balance and explosion. Balance is really important in the discus. Good balance and explosion are important in the shot put. Biggness and strength are important in the throwing events, but quickness and explosiveness are more important. Also enjoy watching the attitude of the thrower both as he warms up and also as he competes. Will he compete and will he control his emotions.

The long jump is one of the best indicators of a football player's athleticism, speed and burst. Here, like all events, the real competitive drive of an athlete usually comes out. Long jumpers must also be able to adapt his speed to the weather and to the field conditions. Split decisions must be made while actually doing the jump.

Like the other events, watching the warm-ups, can tell me alot about a football player's character. Evaluating a prospect's character is one of the more important aspects of what I do. The prospect is competing in a different sport, but the true character of a young man usually does not change, regardless of the sport. Watching track meets is just another way to evaluate a college prospect.

Now if it is cold and rainy, I may skip the chance to evaluate football players. I love what I do, but sometimes reality must set in.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Football Players can Play Basketball

During the years that I coached high school football, I always felt that high school football players could contribute to the basketball team. For some reason, many basketball coaches held and, still due today, that basketball players have to play basketball year around. Basketball coaches also worry about possible injuries on the football field.

Sad, but football coaches, today, want their players concentrating on year around football conditioning. Although I am an old football coach, discouraging kids from playing basketball is also ridiculous. The first thing I ask a big lineman is "do you play basketball?" In fact, I drive to watch linemen play basketball during the winter months. If they can move their feet, catch and pass, and be physical underneath the basket, they make my "to watch" list.

This past basketball season, I watched Toledo Whitmer and Pickerington Central play hoops. Both teams had some really high profiled football players playing basketball. Although I saw three games at the Ohio High School State Basketball finals this past week, I did not see the Division One State championship game. Pickerington Central versus Toledo Whitmer. Both teams went against the norm for Divisiion One schools, in that football players played vital roles for their teams.

Michigan bound Chris Wormley was solid as both a defender and rebounder. In the semi finals he made some clutch free throws. LeRoy Alexander who is headed to Nebraska lead the Panthers with 19 points. Although he contributed as a back-up inside guy, Toledo bound Storm Nelson held his own. Storm does not run well, but he is tough inside. Now, one of my favorites as a wide receiver is junior, Nigel Hayes. Basketball is his sport and I have no problem with that. But if he was really into football, he would be one of the top receivers in his Ohio Class of 2013, and play at a higher college level in football than basketball. His choice, not mine.

Pickerington Central had two high profiled football players in the game. Jae-Sean Tate will possibly chose basketball over football at the next level. He is listed at 6'3 and runs really well. Very athletic. Shoots the ball really well. Like his touch. Taco Charlton, a Michigan commit, listed at 6'5-250 was a beast in the paint. Not a great shooter, but he plays defense and can rebound. For sure, he does not back away from contact. Zack Beaver also plays both sports for Pickerington Central.

Lakewood St Edwards had no football players playing basketball. Earlier in the year, I saw Warren Harding play basketball, and rumor had it, the coach made it so, that players did not have a choice. Just a rumor.

Playing both basketball and football is tough at any Division. Maty Mauk did it at Kenton. Joseph Davidson did it at Findlay. Marcus Ball does it at Westerville South. Jake Root did it at Pickerington North. Tyler Jones did it at Canton McKinley.

Congrats not only to the football players who play basketball at both Pick Central and Toledo Whitmer, but to both basketball teams for a fine season. Almost forgot, Pick Central played in the OHSAA football state championship game, while Whitmer played in the OHSAA state football semi-finals. WOW!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Taco Charlton - Pickerington Central

Last night I called Taco Charlton to wish him good luck in the Ohio High School State Basketball Championships. For those who do not know him, Taco plays basketball for Pickerington Central. He also plays football for Pick Central who, by the way, also played in the OHSAA's Football State Championship game last fall. But my respect for him has grown big time over the last year.

Actually, I first Taco play in a reserve football scrimmage as a freshman. Long, gangly, and slow. Also saw him as a sophomore, but he just ran around, but looked good in a football uniform. Potential was there, but he had to grow into his body. Worse, I do not think that he understood the game. But I thought as a junior, he would be a player.

First game of the season last year, Pickerington Central played Moeller in a Cross-town Showdown game. As the Moeller team got off of the bus, I watched Taco and a Tiger teammate kind of taunt the Moeller team. My first thought was "don't do that."During the warm-ups, that kind of behavior continued from Taco. At that point, I knew he was all talk and "tryin to be bad." Moeller went on to destroy Pickerington Central. Just a guy!

In the state championship game against St Ignatius, a different story. For Taco, everything was business. No dancing, no taunting, no "we are bad attitude." He went on to play a solid game from his defensive end postion. Had some QB hurries, but no sacks. But for me, more importantly, his maturity and instensity as a player had really improved.

Last Saturday, I watched him play a regional final basketball game against Canton McKinley. The "play hard and stay-focused" attitude was still there. Not a great basketball player, but a very hard worker. Rebounds strong and plays defense. To a degree, I, also see a team leader in him.

Taco has given Michigan a verbal commitment to play football for the Wolverines. He has not played as many snaps as people might think. He may not be a defensive end, but at 6'5-260, he is a football player. Runs the court in basketball. Needs to improve his change of direction on the football field. Some recruiters question how well he runs. I believe he runs well enough, but may be able to slide down inside.

Sometimes, when I evaluate football players I just get a "good feeling," on a player, especially one who I have evaluated for three years. Sometimes I am guilty of wanting to a prospect to be better than he is and miss some of his weaknesses. Hopefully, that is not the case with Taco Charlton and that my "good feeling" on him is justified.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Four Football Helmets

Read an interesting article buried in the the Columbus Dispatch this morning. Being a high school sports guy, who cares some about the plight of college football, but cares almost nothing for pro sports, I found the Columbus School Board Meeting concerning high school football funding amusing.

The Columbus South High School football program had a large pre-season turnout last summer and needed an additional four football helmets to outfit all of the players. Coach Felix Catheline continued to ask for more football helmets, way into August. For some reason that request fell on deaf ears. Finally, he made the decision to let the four players practice in "non-contact drills," but with no helmets. Two players bumped into each other, one with a helmet and one without. The player without a helmet chipped a tooth. Somehow somebody found four helmets right after that.

I am sure that alot of "brown sugar," was spread around at this meeting. Equal funding was discussed. The $600,000 for high school sports is equally distributed among the schools. Of course, some schools take in more gate receipts than others, and extra money. Superintendent Gene Smith made the statement, "the way we fund sports makes sense." She went on to say, "I don't care how many helmets you don't have; come and stand on my desk and tell me you don't have a helmet, but don't let a child participate without a helmet." Now, hopefully, we all realize that a coach is not going to get all of the way to her office. I was in eduaction. Sounds good, but not realistic.

The board also discussed academic eligibilty requirements for athletes. The head of the district's athletic programs reported that over half of the district's students are excluded from sports by the mandate of needing a 2.0 GPA in the previous nine week grading period to play. At some schools more than three-fourths of the students cannot make the grade. Harris said that she could see both sides of the argument, but commented, "Two points, in my mind, is a pretty minimal standard."That is a 2.0GPA every grading period. I wonder if all educators do 2.0 work every nine weeks.

Over the years, I have watched inner city programs continue to improve and improve. Growing up "lily-white" and never having taught or coached in an inner-city school, I cannot relate to that envoirnment, but I work with inner-city football players state wide. I have the utmost respect for the players, and most coaches who coach them. I remember years ago telling Ty Howard (Briggs HS) to stop saying "sir" to me. That lasted for about five minutes. Ty went on to play defensive back at O-State and have a nice career. Sports help develop character. Of course, sports do not help everyone who plays the game, but I like the percentages.

I only know what I read in the Dispatch and do not know all of the facts with the "four helmets" and will not make time to do more research. My concern is that education is more than "regurgatating facts." Athletics can do much for a young man or woman. Just seems to me that educators are more concerned with higher academic standards than we are with totally educating young people. Having taught for 31 years and coached for many of those years, educating students is getting harder and harder. Sports can be a part of raising academic performance.

High school coaches who know me, realize I have a deep concern for inner city football. Love to go to Friday afternoon games in Cleveland. Love Shaker Heights at 2:00 on Saturdays. Love watching games at Welcome Stadium. Most of all, love working with inner city football players. Four football helmets caused concern in C-bus. But the inner-city problems, such as funding, eligibilty, and numbers go deeper than four football helmets. Inner city athletic programs are important.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ohio High School Powerlifting Championships

Just arrived home from the State Powerlifting Championships at Kenton High School. Head Football Coach Mike Mauk has hosted and directed the State Meet for years. Last week Divisions 4, 5, and 6 competed and toady Divisions 1, 2, and 3 competed.

Competition numbers have dropped some over the last few years, but the event gives athletes(both male and female) a chance to compete against other lifters. I like the meet, because it is another way for athletes, not just football players, a chance to get state-wide recognition. Moreover, the state meet can serve as a motivator during the season.

Lfters are divided by weight divisons. Each lifter gets three chances to acheive his/her highest lift. State records are kept in all three lifts. They do the squat first, next the bench press, and last the deadlift. The best lift in each event is added to get the final points total. Highest total wins. Six place medals are awarded in the girls division and twelve place medals in tthe boys division. Trophies are awarded to the top six boys teams and to the top three girls teams.

Watching the meet is just another way for me find and evaluate football players. Yes, every year I meet some new prospects. Mount Vernon High School has a nice looking 6'4-235 tight end whom I like. Blew out his knee last year and missed the season. Last week, Genoa running back, Kyle Nutter(2013) was impressive. Needs to improve speed, but is strong. There were a few more, but these two jumped out.

A highlight for me was watching Holly Mangold, from Kettering Alter back in 2007. She benched 225 and squatted 530. Her total that year was 1,140 points. Recently, she made the Olympic team as a power lifter. Years ago I watched former O-State running back Maurice Clarett win as a freshman in high school. He was powerful and quick.

For me, the State Powerlifting Championships are another way to evaluate football players. For the athlete, it is a way to compete, to get stronger, and to get recognition. Most of all, another sport for young people to participate.

Wrestling and Football

Please do not consider me a narrow minded sports fan, but I skim Yappi every other day looking for news on coaching changes and prospect names. I have never offered an opinion, and, for the most part, consider it senseless reading. When JJ sold out, I quit reading the other popular fan sports forum. This morning I read comments about wrestling and how it was losing good athletes to football.

Wrestling is tremendous individual competitive sport. Back in the "stone Age," Upper Sandusky did not offer wrestling as a varsity sport. Wrestled in physical education class, but that was about it. Really, I cannot speak from experience, but I did have some assistant football coaches over the years who also coached wrestling. One of my closest friends still coaches wrestling at Eastwood High School. I used to go to meets and also enjoyed watching practices. I still go to a few wrestling meets to watch high school football players wrestle. Wrestlers have all of my respect. I mean they condition really hard. In fact they make me tired just watching.

Two concerns about wrestling for football players. Coaches ask players to lose weight to go to a lower weight class. Now sometimes they do not ask them, but they present a picture that forces them to lose the weight. Selfishly, I am concerned about the potential college football prospect in the 171 weight class or above. Also, dual meets are a thing of the past. To me this limits a lesser wrestler to show his stuff. I am sure that the OHSAA has something to do with this. PLEASE remember, I believe wrestlers are tremendous competitors and that wrestling is an excellent sport.

Wrestling can improve an athletes endurance, leverage and balance. Wrestlers make good defensive linemen. Obviously, wrestling improves an athlete's competitive nature.

A college football prospect can do both - wrestle and play football. But here is my concern. AAU. Players should use good judgment when trying to decide what is best for him. Wrestle AAU all summer and miss football team workouts and team competition during the summer, or stop AAU wrestling workouts July 1, and concentrate on football until the end of the regular football season.

What is best for the "kid?" For the majority of young athletes, play as many sports as you can. Have fun. Enjoy playing sports. For the small minority, concentrate on one sport, but enjoy all of them. A nationally ranked wrestler at Lakewood St Edwards committed to play football at Northwestern next fall. Ohio State assistant coach Luke Fickel was a national champion heavyweight in high school at DeSales and started four years at O-State on the defensive line. Your high school years go fast, enjoy playing sports.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Mario Williams Story - A Favorite

I always use the Mario Williams story to support the fact that recruiting high school players or drafting college players is not an exact science, but, most of all, is not the job of the media. Supposedly, Williams is the highest rated free agent in pro football today. My comments go back to when he was taken as the first overall draft in the NFL draft.

Charlie Casserly of the Houston Texans took him with the first pick. He did not take a highly rated QB from Texas, nor did he take a highly rated running back from USC. Both put up great numbers and were media darlings. Kiper and the other self annointed experts trashed Casserly and said that he should be fired. Williams was a DE at North Carolina State, with suspected work ethics, but great talent and very smart. Williams went on to make All-Pro in his first two years. Tremendous speed rusher off the edge. Bothof the other "media darlings" have already been traded once. The point is that the media's evaluations make for good stories, but should not be taken seriously.

My advice to young players coming out of high school is that rankings and evaluations, including mine, make for good stories, but should not be taken seriously. Internet sports media people get paid to write content. Internet sites need to get readers to their sites, so they provide rankings of high school players. Just because you are not ranked high does not mean that you are not a good prospect. The key is to work hard and show your stuff on the field in front of college coaches. Let the college coaches make the decisions, not guys

Remember the Mario Williams story. The college coaches are the only ones that matter. They are the ones making the decisions. Not Rivals. Not Scout. Not Tom Lemming. Not John McCallister. Guys like Charlie Casserly matter.

Excellent Character at Monroe Combine

Before, I put the Monroe Combine on the back burner and work towards the next one at Lewis Center this Sunday, I really want to commend the behavior and character of the young men at the combine last Sunday. Having been a head football coach for years, I realize one has to have control or structure in the classroom and on the field in order to make it work. But, no matter how much control one has, if the "kids" do not cooperate, you have a mess.

The players were tremendous. Realize that there were 236 prospects and most had never been to a football combine before. Many had never run the drills before. Six groups of roughly 39 to a group in an indoor soccer facility got it done. They followed directions. They listened. Most of all, they competed very hard. Having done a few of these combines, I must say, for what it means, I was impressed.

One thing that still amazes me are the adults who think that they have a sense of entitlement. Because of insurance coverage, only the players and the instructors are covered. The rate would surprise people. I started to ask one adult if he get to the outside, and his first comment was "Are you going to run me out?" Before I could say, "yes," the situation was explained to me. I had to ask another parent to move to the outside of the area. If I say nothing, then more people would start drifting onto the already crowded field. Where ever I go, I always check to be sure where I can stand or walk.

One last parent story. Last year at Lewis Center, a parent told that she had had her son to the doctor the week before and that we measured him two inches shorter than at the doctors. I had to tell her that I had not cut two inches off the tape measure. One other parent commented that the recruiters will not even stop at the school to look at players if their heights at listed correctly. That is not even funny! Of course, we do measure the prospects with no shoes.

Again, Southwest Ohio football was well represented with really good kids.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Bench Press and Michael Adams

When I was a head footbasll coach many years ago, the bench press was considered one of the "red badges of courage" for a football player on the high school level. That is, his strength was associated the amount of weight that he could bench. For me, I always felt bad for the guy with long arms. On the other hand, the short-armed guy could rep and rep. Some coaches even made players begin the lift with the bar near his chest. That made no sense to me, and, honestly, still makes no sense to me.

Reading about OSU's Michael Adams' 16 reps@225 at the Pro Combine, I read where some people were really concerned about his few amount of reps. Last Friday at OSU's Pro Day, he did 21 reps@225. Some people were still concerned. For those of you familiar with Adams, he is tall and long. Really athletic and uses his feet well. He has a good punch and plays with power. Thank goodness, some scouts realize the same thing. If Adams can get all of his ducks in a row, despite the bench press, he should represent himself well in the Pro Draft.

A few years ago, and I forget the defensive end's name, Ohio State had a player set the bench press record. He was not drafted and never made it through an NFL summer camp. I am not being critical of him, but showing that the "bench' is not that great of a predictor of a player's ability to be a solid football player at any level.

With the spread offenses, players must be able to move their feet. Simply, they have to able to run and change direction. More than just the ability to run, somewhow young players must devlop a "burst." Of course, that is on both sides of the ball. The name of the game is speed. Few high school teams run double tights with a wing anymore.

Speed and a burst is essential, and strong chest muscles help improve speed. Doing the bench press will help develop chest muscles. but try not get caught up in the number of reps a player can bench. Make sure that he can run, change direction, and have a burst. Let the football media make an issue with the bench press. It gives them something to write.

As for Michael Adams, he will be okay. As for the those long, tall offensive high school linemen, keep working on your bench strength, but keep those feet moving and the hips getting stronger and more flexible. Ask recent O-Sate committ, Taylor Decker

Thursday, March 8, 2012

McCallister and the OHSFCA

Over the last sixteen years, I have been very fortunate to work with the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association. Working with them has been an exciting time. I get to sit in on healthy discussions in all areas. They use me as an advisor in selecting the "Big 33" team and in selecting both the North-South teams for the annual Ohio North-South game. With the success of the McCallister Scouting Report, I am able to give my "two cents." But, obviously, the head coach and his assistants select the team. I am just there to give them another perspective.

Over the last few years, the OHSFCA has endorsed my directing of high school football combines and summer football camps. This will be the third year and with early registration being heavy, the combines look to be growing. Like anything else, there are good and bad to combines. Bad - If you have some bad times or measurements, the combine could hurt you. But for us, a prospect can cancel his results. Good - Prospects are "coached up." Also, they get a chance to compete. Finally, they get that exposure for recruiting. Just another way, I hope that I am giving back to the OHSFCA.

Working with Coaches' Association is rewarding. For me, no pressure, because I do not vote. I do get to give my opinions at times. If you are a high school coach, I would encourage you to join the Association. This year three young men were not allowed to play in either all-star game, because no football coach belonged to the OHSFCA. Being open-minded, I understand both sides on whether to join the OHSFCA. But I am a "kid's guy," a player deserves a chance to play.

The Ohio High School Football Coaches Association has been good to me. If you are a high school football coach, please give it some thought.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Kahleed Who?

As many know, I really enjoy watching football players play basketball. Not because I feel that playing basketball is important for a football player, or not because I really enjoy basketball, but because you can learn so much about a football guy on the basketball court. Last Saturday night I learned alot about Kahleed Franklin.

Who is Kahleed Franklin? He is a member of the Class of 2013 and plays linebacker at Columbus Beechcroft High School. Listed at 6'1-205. Actually he may be a little taller and a little heavier now. On video, I liked his movement. Liked his size. Most of all, liked his ability to make plays on both sides of the ball. My concern is his speed and his burst. On video, it just has to be better. Athletic, but needs to run better.

Last Saturday night, I watched him on the basketball court show excellent leadership and actually takeover the game. Very important quality for me. Taking over a game. He ran the court well. Played hard all of the time. Shot the ball well at times. Made two clutch free throws late in the game. Beechcroft beat a more talented team, because of their hustle, quickness, and aggressiveness. Kahleed lead the way.

Talked with him for few minutes after the game. Class act. Carrying a 3.2+ GPA. Liked his style.

Looking forward to watching him play football this fall. Like his toughness and athleticism. Want to see his closing speed improve. Want to see him turn his hips. Want to see him change direction.

Hope that he comes to my football combine at Lewis Center, but really hope that he is still playing hoops in a regional tournament basketball game.

You probably will not see Kahleeb Franklin's name on many list. Who knows, maybe he should not be right now. I will say, if he can improve his top speed and plays football with the same intensity as basketball, he is a scholarship football player. Looking forward to making the trip to a city league football game in Columbus this fall.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cheers for Chase Blackburn

Read in the Dispatch this morning about the return of Chase Blackburn to his hometown of Marysvlle. Hopefully, most pro-football fans are familiar with name - the linebacker of the New York Giants who made the key fourth quarter interception to help the Giants upset(Patriots fan) the New England Patriots in this year's Super Bowl XLVI. More importantly to me, is the road he took to get there.

Chase was a 6'1-200(maybe a little bigger) linebacker coming out of Marysville High School a few years ago. Not heavily recruited, but a solid prospect. At the time, I was concerned about his overall speed, but not about his toughness. He committed to Akron. He did so, with little recruiting hype from the "recruiting experts." At Akron, he developed into a very solid linebacker. Enough so, that some pro scouts took notice. Of course, it helped knowing some of the right pro scouts. Chase got his chance and went to the Giants.

The Giants released him last summer, but called him back late in the season. He kept his bag packed and turned down some sub-teaching jobs last fall in hopes of returning to the Giants. The rest is history. But that is not the "stuff" of this blog.

The "stuff" of this blog is what he was quoted in the article. The "stuff" is the message that he is trying to get out to young people. "Take pride in everything that you do. Be consistent in everything that you do and persevere. Because when an opportunity comes, you better be ready for it. You don't know if it will ever come again."

Chase probably did not hold a "signing day" press conference where he had five school hats and choose one over the other, or where adults were getting silly over his commitment to Akron. He may not have even held a school assembly to honor his signing.

What he had and, still has, is the desire to work hard to be the best that he can be. Not from St Ignatius HS, not from Glenville HS, not from Moeller HS, but from Marysville, Ohio. Not from Ohio State, not from Michigan, not from Florida, but from Akron University. Now, he is from the Super Bowl Champs - the New York Giants.

Chase Blackburn persevered and was ready when the "bell rang."