The Collegian Sports Blog

May 10, 2010

Ward signs with Atlanta

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Andrew Prezioso @ 2:13 pm

Former University of Richmond quarterback Eric Ward signed with the Atlanta Falcons on Monday after a weekend tryout.

Ward joins former teammate Lawrence Sidbury Jr., who was selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft, on Atlanta’s roster.

Ward went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft, but tried out for the New York Jets during their mini-camp following the draft. He left New York without getting signed after the mini-camp.

The Falcons invited him and five other players, including former Spider Arman Shields, to their mini-camp this past weekend. Ward and defensive back Daylan Walker from Arkansas State were the only two players signed by the Falcons.

This is a homecoming for Ward, who is an Atlanta native.

During his four years as a starter for Richmond, Ward went 41-12 and led the team to the 2008 National Championship. He accumulated 8,969 yards passing and 61 touchdowns for his career.

Atlanta now is tied with the Arizona Cardinals for the team with the most former Spiders. The only other team to have a Spider on it is the New York Giants who signed defensive back Seth Williams as an undrafted free agent this past April.

May 2, 2010

Vaughan picked up by the Panthers

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Andrew Prezioso @ 1:57 pm

Former University of Richmond tailback Josh Vaughan signed with the Carolina Panthers on Saturday.

Vaughn went undrafted in the 2009 NFL Draft, but signed shortly thereafter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  He stayed in Tampa Bay until Aug, 7, when the Buccaneers released him.

Four days later, Vaughan was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He did not make the final roster and was out of football until the Jaguars signed him to their practice squad on Dec. 21.

Vaughan has yet to play in a NFL game.

Vaughan rushed for 1,884 yards and 20 touchdowns during his senior season after spending the previous two years backing up current Arizona Cardinal Tim Hightower. Vaughan was the starter on the Richmond team that won the 2008 National Championship.  Vaughn ran for 3,393 yards and 34 touchdowns during his career.

The Panthers have five other tailbacks on their roster, including two 1,000-yard runners.

April 25, 2010

Ward, Williams to attend NFL camps

Former University of Richmond quarterback Eric Ward will attend the New York Jets mini-camp, according to the football department’s twitter page.

Ward threw for 60 touchdowns during his four-year career at UR, but was not drafted in this past weekend’s NFL Draft.

Ward led the Spiders to the 2008 National Championship against the University of Montana and his record as a starter was 41-12.

Defensive back Seth Williams will be at mini-camp with the New York Giants, according to multiple sources close to the team. No formal announcement has been made about Williams, who has also had contact with other teams.

Williams was a captain from last year’s team that won the Colonial Athletic Association. Williams recorded 187 tackles and picked off seven passes during his four years with the Spiders.

Richmond has had a number of players attend NFL camps recently. Former Spiders Armani Shields, Tim Hightower and Lawrence Sidbury have been drafted during the past two years and Stephen Howell and Josh Vaughn signed with NFL teams after not being drafted.

April 20, 2010

2010 Mock NFL Draft

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Andrew Prezioso @ 7:29 pm

Creating a mock NFL Draft is almost as hard as filling out a NCAA Tournament bracket. Crazy things happen each year, like the Raiders taking Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh pick. Also, trades are impossible to predict and this year there are rumors that the Rams are trying to trade out of the first pick.

Based on the current draft order, here is my 2010 mock NFL Draft.

Pick 1, St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma. Bradford is not the best player in the draft, but quarterbacks are the natural choice for the first overall pick. Injuries are a concern for Bradford, who missed most of the 2009 season with a shoulder issue, but the Rams have a huge hole at the quarterback position and Bradford should be able to fill it.

Pick 2, Detroit Lions: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska. Suh is the best player available in the draft. The Lions could use support on the offensive line, but Suh is too good of a player to pass up. He gets to the quarterback regularly and should be a mainstay on the Detroit defensive line for years to come.

Pick 3, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerald McCoy, DT, Alabama. Back-to-back defensive tackles in the top-three picks is a rare feat, but these two players are the best players in this year’s draft. McCoy will probably garner comparisons in Tampa Bay to Warren Sapp and McCoy can be a dominating defensive tackle like Sapp.

Pick 4, Washington Redskins: Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma St. Okung is the best offensive tackle in this year’s draft. Prior to the trade for Donovan McNabb (something as an Eagle’s fan I’m still bitter about), the pick may have been Jimm Clausen, but Okung is the best player available to fill Washington’s biggest need.

Pick 5, Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee. Berry is right up there with Suh and McCoy as the best players in the draft. He is an impact player in the secondary that can make plays and cause fits for opposing quarterbacks.

Pick 6, Seattle Seahawks: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma. Walter Jones hasn’t retired yet, but all signs point to him doing that either this season or next offseason. Even if he does return, he has been an injury risk over the past few years. And if the Seahawks want to get one more productive season out of Matt Hasselbeck, they need to protect him.

Pick 7, Cleveland Browns: Joe Haden, CB, Florida. Haden is a very good cornerback who has been knocked for having a slow 40-yard-dash time during the NFL Combine. But his play on the field is too good to pass on. Even though the Browns acquired Sheldon Brown from the Eagles, they could still use an upgrade in their secondary.

Pick 8, Oakland Raiders: Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland: This is a huge reach for Campbell, but he is an impressive athlete for his size. Raiders owner Al Davis loves speed and athleticism and Campbell fits that bill.

Pick 9, Buffalo Bills: Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., has Clausen as the best quarterback in the draft, but he has been too inconsistent to be the No. 1 pick. Still, the Bills would love to get him with their pick and possibly get their best quarterback since Jim Kelly.

Pick 10, Jacksonville Jaguars: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech. On the football field, the Jaguars’ biggest need is to get somebody who can put pressure on the quarterback. Morgan is the best end in this year’s draft and should help the Jacksonville’s defense. I could see the Jaguars trading out of this pick to get a second round pick to get Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

Pick 11, Denver Broncos: Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma St. The Broncos traded away their best receiver and now have no premier receiver. Even though Bryant has had some off-field issues, he has top-five talent and the Broncos should pick him if he is still available.

Pick 12, Miami Dolphins: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee. The Dolphins need help along the defensive line and Williams has been soaring up draft boards since the end of the college season. Williams is a very good nose tackle and should fit well into Miami’s 3-4 defense.

Pick 13, San Francisco 49ers: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa. Like a lot of other teams, the 49ers need help along the o-line. With Okung and Williams drafted, Bulaga is the best tackle available. Kiper called Bulaga the safest pick among the tackle prospects.

Pick 14, Seattle Seahawks: C.J. Spiller, HB, Clemson. The Seahawks have a huge hole at running back and Spiller is the best back in the draft. He can do it all and is very quick. He reminds me of Reggie Bush.

Pick 15, New York Giants: Rolando McClain, ILB, Alabama. The Giants released Antonio Pierce earlier this offseason and now lacks a strong lead. McClain is a natural leader on defense and is also a good linebacker.

Pick 16, Tennessee Titans: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, USF. Pierre-Paul played Division-I football for only one year, but he was a defensive force for that year. The Titans  need an additional pass rusher and Pierre-Paul should provide that in a year or two.

Pick 17, San Francisco 49ers: Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama. Up until the Scouting Combine, Jackson was not mentioned as a first-round pick. He has a good combination of size and speed and the 49ers need help in the secondary.

Pick 18, Pittsburgh Steelers: Maurkice Pouncey, G/C, Florida. The Steelers have had trouble protecting their quarterback during the past few years and the versatile Pouncey will help out.

Pick 19, Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan. The Falcons drafter Richmond alumnus Lawrence Sidbury last year but they still need more pass rushers. Graham is one of those and should play right away.

Pick 20, Houston Texans: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise St. Before the departure of Dunta’ Robinson, the Texans needed a cornerback. Wilson can return punts for the Texans.

Pick 21, Cincinnati Bengals: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma. Gresham missed all of last year with a knee injury but he can be an elite tight end when he is healthy. Gresham will provide extra security for quarterback Carson Palmer.

Pick 22, New England Patriots: Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas. Kindle is probably the best pass-rushing OLB and the Patriots need to get more pressure on the quarterback.

Pick 23, Green Bay Packers: Charles Brown, OT, USC. The Packers need to do a better job of protecting Aaron Rodgers and Brown could start as a rookie. The starting tackles are getting old for the Packers and Brown is a very good tackle.

Pick 24, Philadelphia Eagles: Earl Thomas, S, Texas. The Eagles shuffled through safeties last year after the departure of Brian Dawkins. Thomas is also the best player available at this point in the draft.

Pick 25, Baltimore Ravens: Demaryius Thomas, WR, Georgia Tech. Even though the Ravens acquired Anquan Boldin from the Cardinals, they need to get younger receivers. Cornerback is a bigger need but there is not a corner worth drafting this high.

Pick 26, Arizona Cardinals: Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers. Davis is one of the most talented tackles in the draft but work ethic questions could cause him to fall this far. New starting quarterback Matt Leinart needs as much protection as he can get.

Pick 27, Dallas Cowboys: Mike Iupati, G, Idaho: There are reports from Dallas that owner Jerry Jones wants Iupati and he should be able to get him. There aren’t many  holes on the Cowboys’ roster put their guards could be improved.

Pick 28, San Diego Chargers: Ryan Matthews, HB, Fresno St. The Chargers released LaDainian Tomlinson this offseason and now needs a complimentary back for Darren Sproles. Matthews is a big back who is the perfect compliment back for Sproles.

Pick 29, New York Jets: Jared Odrick, DT, Penn St. The Jets are another team who could more defensive linemen. Reex Ryan would love to add Odrick.

Pick 30, Minnesota Vikings: Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers. The Vikings lost starting CB Cedric Griffin to a torn ACL during the NFC Championship Game and they need depth at that position. McCourty will be the replacement for Antoine Winfield in a year or two.

Pick 31, Indianapolis Colts: Everson Griffin, DE, USC. The Colts have a pair of great ends in Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney but both are getting old. Griffin is also the best player remaining at this point in the draft.

Pick 32, New Orleans Saints: Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri. The Saints lost starting OLB Scott Fujita and Weatherspoon will probably start as a rookie. He should help keep the Saints defense strong.

The chance of all of this happening is very small, but we will find out on Thursday night. I would love to hear who you think your favorite team should select, just leave a comment.

April 19, 2010

Smart move by Anderson to declare for draft

Filed under: Men's Basketball — Tags: , — Andrew Prezioso @ 2:56 pm

It is a smart move by point guard Kevin Anderson to declare for the 2010 NBA Draft, but it would be unwise for him to stay in it.

Anderson declared for the draft on Monday and announced that he will not hire an agent which will allow him to return to Richmond for his senior season if he withdraws his name by May 8. And he should.

That is not to say that Anderson isn’t good enough. Anybody who watched his games against Xavier and Temple in the Atlantic 10 Tournament know how good of a player Anderson is. But Anderson isn’t NBA ready yet.

He is listed at 6-feet tall, but he may be smaller. If he gets to the NBA — either this year or next year — he needs to be exceptional in one area of his game to make up for his lack of height.

Right now, the best aspect of his game is his quickness and his ability to get off shots. But in the NBA where players are bigger, stronger and all-around more athletic, that ability will be severely tested. It’s one thing to get off a shot when a player from St. Bonaventure is in your face, it’s another to try to get a shot past Dwight Howard.

But that’s where declaring for the draft is a good idea for Anderson. He gets the opportunity to workout in front of NBA teams and get feedback on his game. It’s there that he will learn what he needs to work on to become a better player.

One thing that will probably come up is how Anderson sometimes disappeared for games. For the most part, Anderson could be counted on to score 15 points, but there were times when he would not score. In back-to-back games against Saint Louis and Saint Joseph’s, Anderson scored a combined 15 points. Even though both games were won by Richmond, his output was concerning.

Even the coaches got on Anderson for not appearing to be into games.

Another thing Anderson must work on is limiting his turnovers. He led the team with 83 turnovers, but those will happen to you when you play the point guard position for 37 minutes per night. He ended the season with a 1.1-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and in order to be a point guard in the NBA, that needs to get better.

Anderson will probably learn this and more from NBA scouts and he will become a better player. Just look at the transformation in Maryland point guard Grevis Vasquez. He declared for the 2009 NBA Draft as a fiery point guard whose emotions took control of him which led to bad basketball decisions and a sour relationship with Maryland fans. Vasquez pulled out of the draft and returned to Maryland last year for his senior season with controlled emotions. By the end of the year, Vasquez was getting national attention for his maturity, something that he was told that he needed to have in order to play in the NBA.

While Anderson does not have to worry about letting his emotions cause some bad decisions — it sometimes doesn’t look like Anderson has emotions on the court — he does have some areas in which he can improve. And as long as he doesn’t get tempted by the promise of a big contract, it is a smart idea for Anderson to declare.

Anderson is already a great player — he was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American — and will only get better through the draft process.

March 30, 2010

Anderson is honorable mention for All-American team

Filed under: Men's Basketball — Tags: , , — Andrew Prezioso @ 6:46 pm

Richmond junior point guard Kevin Anderson was named as an honorable mention to the AP All-American team on Monday afternoon.

Anderson, the Atlantic 1o Player of the Year, became the third Spider ever named to the team. The other two players from Richmond to be earn honorable mentions are George Lacy, who was on the 1935 team, and Johnny Newman, who was on the team from 1984-86.

Anderson led the Spiders in scoring with 17.8 points per game. He scored 20 or more points 13 times this past year and his career-high 31 points in an overtime loss at Wake Forest on Dec. 31, 2009.

Under the direction of Anderson, Richmond went 26-9 on the year and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004. The Spiders made it to the A-10 Tournament finals and also won the South Padre Island Invitational in November. Anderson was the Most Valuable Player of the South Padre.

Anderson, who is listed at 6-foot-0,  is on-pace to have one of the greatest careers in Richmond history. He is currently sixth in scoring in program history with 1,549 points. If Anderson can duplicate this year’s 622-point season, he will end his Richmond career trailing only Newman for most points in a career.

March 22, 2010

First round of NCAA Tournament provides plenty of drama

All this tournament needed to seal its place as the greatest tournament of all time was for a No. 16 to finally win a game. But alas, the closest a 16 came was Lehigh, a team that Richmond defeated to start the year, falling to Kansas by 16. Even though that did not happen, this has still been a highly entertaining March Madness.

The tone was set for this crazy tournament when Thursday’s first game –  No. 7 BYU and No. 10 — went to double overtime before BYU won. The Gators had the final shot in both regulation and first overtime, but missed both. At the same time as this game, No. 11 Old Dominion was upsetting No. 6 Notre Dame for the tournament’s first upset.

Thursday’s early games also saw a No. 13 upset a No. 4 (Murray State over Vanderbilt) and nearly one of the tournament’s greatest upsets when No. 15 Robert Morris took No. 2 Villanova into overtime. Murray State advanced on a last-second shot and Robert Morris was leading for most of the game and would have won had the referees called fouls a little more evenly.

The second batch of Thursday games saw No. 14 Sam Houston State be tied with No. 3 Baylor with under four minutes left in the game. The nation was also introduced to the 6-foot-11 Omar Samhan, St. Mary’s senior center, much to the chagrin of Richmond fans everywhere. Samhan scored 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the No. 10 Gaels upset the No. 7 Spiders.

Thursday’s night games were just as good as the day’s games. A pair of future bracket busters in No. 9 Northern Iowa and No. 11 Washington escaped with close victories over teams seeded higher than them. Tennessee and New Mexico survived near-upsets and Wake Forest had to go to overtime to defeat Texas in a game of once-highly thought of teams. But the story of Thursday night was of the play of Armon Bassett and No. 14 Ohio’s upset of No. 3 Georgetown.

Friday was more subdued as only three teams pulled the upset. No. 10s Missouri and Georgia Tech won their first round games over No. 7 seeds and the biggest upset was No. 12 Cornell defeating No. 5 Temple. However, none of these would be filed under the category of a ‘major’ upset as Cornell was considered to be one of the best mid-major teams in this year’s field.

The madness returned on Saturday with Samhan once again playing the role of spoiler. The Gaels used a 32 point performance from Samhan to upset Villanova and go to the Sweet 16. Murray State almost followed suit but was unable to get off a shot during the final seconds and fell to No. 5 Butler.

Saturday’s upsets did not stop there. Northern Iowa shocked the nation by defeating Kansas, a team thought by many to be the eventual champions of this year’s tournament. The manner in which the Panthers pulled this upset was just as surprising as the final score. Kansas only held a 2-0 lead but fought back to trail by only one with 43 seconds remaining. That was when Northern Iowa’s Ali Farokhmanesh (owner of probably the best name in this year’s tournament) decided to take a 3-pointer when conventional wisdom told him to hold the ball and let him get fouled. But his 3-pointer with 35 seconds left cemented Northern Iowa’s place among the Davidson’s and George Mason’s of the NCAA Tournament.

The first weekend went out with some exciting games on Sunday, but only one upset. Cornell won again, this time upsetting No. 4 Wisconsin to give the Ivy League a team in the Sweet 16 for the first time in more than 30 years. The game between No. 4 Purdue and No. 5 Texas A&M went to overtime before the Boilermakers won. But the game of the day belonged to No. 4 Maryland and No. 5 Michigan State. The lead was changed three times during the last 40 seconds and the Spartans’ Korie Lucious (in for Michigan State’s injured star Kalin Lucas) hit a 3-pointer as time expired to send Michigan State to the Sweet 16.

Three double-digit teams will be are still left in this year’s tournament and that does not include Northern Iowa. If this past weekend was any indication of what is to come, this is going to be one great weekend of college basketball.

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