Archive for October, 2009

ESPN’s interview with Houston’s track star and wide receiver Tyron Carrier

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

Pretty good interview from ESPN’s Graham Watson with Houston’s Tyron Carrier.  A lot of questions about Carrier’s multi-sport career at Houston and balancing life as a track athlete and football player.  Carrier makes it clear in the interview that he’s not a “track guy” playing football he’s both a football player and track athlete.  Hard to argue with his response given the results (he leads the team in receiving). 

Sounds like he’s enjoying the college experience and getting the most out of his considerable athletic talents.

Freshman of Influence – Week 8

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

We’re two-thirds of the way through the season and things are starting to heat up.  Perhaps no player, freshman player that is, is hotter than Mississippi State defensive back, Johnthan Banks.  Check out why below. 


Freshman of Influence Week 8: 


Johnthan Banks, DB – Mississippi State

This true freshman from East Webster HS (Mississippi) did something no college player has ever done and perhaps never will again…he not only intercepted Florida’s Tim Tebow twice but took both back for touchdowns! That gives Banks four interceptions on the year to go with 16 tackles on the year.  Banks was not a track athlete in high school but played high school basketball and led the baseball team to two state titles.  Another multi-sport guy making a huge impact. 

Conner Vernon, WR – Duke

Duke’s team is much improved under coach David Cutcliffe and Vernon has been been one of several standout players this season.  In six games he has 31 receptions for 459 and two touchdowns.  He also returns kicks, with 10 returns for 246 yards (24.6 average).  Certainly some of his success can also be attributed to the great play of Thaddeus Lewis, Duke’s senior quarterback.  Vernon attended Gulliver Prep HS in Miami (Fl) where he also long jumped and lettered in track. 

LaAdrian Waddle, OT – Texas Tech

I was made aware of this player recently via Bruce Feldman’s blog…in fact Feldman said this about Waddle, “a shockingly agile 6-foot-6, 360-pound offensive tackle“.  Waddle recently got his first start and although Texas Tech was beaten he will probably presumably be a fixture on the Tech o-line for a while.  It is fitting, despite his size, Waddle was twice the Texas Class 3A state runner-up in the discus.  His best discus throw was over 170’…that’s impressive, certainly showcasing his agility.  Waddle also played basketball for Columbus HS, probably contributed to some of that agility too.

Steve Means, DE – Buffalo

Means, a redshirt freshman has 4 sacks, 4.5 tfls and 13 total tackles through 8 games.  The Grover Cleveland HS (NY) grad had praise heaped on him by a sports journalist from the Buffalo News, “Steve Means might be the best raw athlete I’ve covered“.  Means lettered in basketball and track, competing in the high jump and 110 hurdles. 

David Wilson, RB – Virginia Tech

Wilson, a true freshman, has been a back-up to fellow freshman (redshirt) running back Ryan Williams. I highlighted Williams in and earlier blog.  But that doesn’t diminish what Wilson’s done with his limited carries (33) for 208 yards a 6.3 per carry average and two touchdowns.  Wilson also has 8 returns for 132 yards.  Clearly Wilson has explosive potential indicated by his 51’05 triple jump at the Nike Indoor Nationals Meet this past spring in Boston.  Wilson attended George Washington HS (VA) and was an outstanding track athlete.  He had bests of 23’02 in the long jump, 6.41 / 55 meter dash (Virginia Class 3A Indoor Meet), 10.89 / 100 meter dash, and was a part of the 4×100 relay (42.71) which finished sixth at the 3A State Meet in 2008. 

Arrayvious “Ray Ray” Armstrong, DB – Miami (FL)

Armstrong a former quarterback at Sanford Seminole HS (FL) led his team to a Class 6A championship his senior year.  He’s transitioned into a “big” defensive back for Miami…he’s listed at 6’04 220.  Maybe we’ll see him eventually at linebacker, who knows?  But he’s already making his presence known with 17 tackles and 1 PBU in 7 games.  Despite being the leader of his high school football team he found time to throw the shot put and triple jump his junior year.  His bests were 40’04 in the triple jump and 43’01 in the shot put. 


Interesting track / football connection

Interesting article here about Lance Dunbar, North Texas running back.  He’s also one of the leading sophomore rushers in the nation so far this year. 

Rod Owens, Florida State wide receiver, athletic ability has finally started to transfer into on-field results for the Noles.  Owens tied a Florida State record for longest play from scrimmage last Thursday night against the UNC with a 98 yard touchdown reception.  He hauled in 9 receptions for 199 yards and a score for the game. 

A feel good story out of Northwestern about former walk-on (he’s scholarship now) wide receiver Zeke Markshausen.  Currently he’s second in the Big Ten with 58 receptions and fifth with 553 yards.  In the article Markshausen mentions he’s not as physically gifted as many of his teammates.  Well, what the article fails to mention is he was a four sport athlete in high school at North Boone (IL) and qualified for the Illinois State Track Meet in the 100, 200 AND discus.  That’s not something usually accomplished by someone lacking in physical ability.  He’s not the biggest or fastest receiver in the Big Ten but clearly he’s a solid athlete with tremendous dedication.      







Freshman of Influence – Week 7

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

Week seven now in the books and the path to determining the number one team in college football seems cloudier than ever.  From the looks of things Alabama appears to be the public favorite even though Florida is ranked one in the BCS poll.  But I’m not here to debate team rankings…I’m here to highlight a few more freshman of influence.  This week there were a few freshman that burst on the scene and others that have been making contributions all along.  Here goes…


Freshman of Influence Week 7: 


Marquise Goodwin, WR – Texas

I did a blog on this player yesterday so I’ll save you the track stuff.  But this true freshman came to Texas as a track scholarship athlete…the football staff was admittedly skeptical of Goodwin’s ability and desire to contribute as a football player.  Goodwin proved he can play against a top notch opponent catching four passes for 36 yards and a touchdown against Oklahoma on Saturday.  Prior to the Oklahoma game he had 10 catches for 91 yards and limited kick return duty.  

Demontre Hurst, CB – Oklahoma

Another true freshman that had a standout game versus Texas on Saturday.  Hurst had a sack and tfl against Texas and he’s listed at 5’10 170.  That’s impressive.  On the year Hurst has 9 tackles, one sack, one tfl and one pass breakup.  And he’s quite the accomplished track sprinter!  He ran for Lancaster HS (Texas) and was twice a member of a state champion 4×400 relay (3:12.45 best time) and bests around (49.0) 400 meters, (22.0) 200 meters, qualified for state meet in 4×100 (41.85) and ran leg on 4×200 (1:26.88 best time).  Needless to say his speed “translates” pretty well to the field. 

Dan Spitz, DT – Washington State

We all know this redshirt freshman plays on a poor team, all the more reason to give him some props. Listed at 6’07 260, this player is credited with 8 tackles, one tfl and 2 forced fumbles through 5 games.  Not great stats but with his size and athleticism we might hear more about him in the future.  Spitz was a thrower at Mead HS (Washington) with a best of 148’04 in the discus, not bad for being a tad over 6’06 in height. 

Olivier Vernon, DT / DE – Miami

Sticking with the D-line this January enrollee and true freshman is helping with the resurgence of the U.  Vernon is a bit undersized but very active for a freshman, credited with 12 tackles, 4 tfls and a half sack in 4 games.  He’s battled injuries so far this season and missed most of his senior year of high school due to an injury but like Spitz we’ll hear more from him in the future.  Olivier attended American HS (Miami, Florida) and graduated early he did throw the shot put and discus as a junior with bests of (46’08) in the shot and (124’11) in the discus.

Lavar Edwards, DT – Louisiana State

On a roll with the D-line and Edwards has been a surprise addition to a deep and talented LSU line.  Edwards is a redshirt freshman but has produced with 10 tackles, one tfl, one sack, and one forced fumble in 5 games.  He came out of small Desire Street Academy (Louisiana) and was a state champion Class A shot putter (50’03) and state qualifier in the discus (141’07, Region II-1A Meet). 

Ed Wesley, RB – Texas Christian (TCU)

Wesley a redshirt freshman is second on the 11th ranked TCU squad with 273 yards on 50 attempts and one touchdown.  He’s also managed 5 receptions for 115 yards and a score over 6 games.  Wesley ran was a sprinter at Irving MacArthur HS (Texas) with best of (10.71, probably hand-held) 100 meter dash at the District 7-5A Meet and member of a regional-qualifying 4×100 team (42.95).  Still has more than enough speed and skill to be one of TCU’s better backs in recent memory. 

Brandon Wegher, RB – Iowa

He isn’t even the best true freshman back on the team, at least statistically, that goes to Adam Robinson.  Wegher has however proven to be a fairly well rounded player with 81 rushing attempts for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns, 10 receptions for 67 yards and 5 kick returns for 139 yards.  Wegher has speed Iowa has exploited well indicated by his (6.99) 60 meter dash, (10.92) 100 meter dash at the 2008 Drake Relays.  He ran track at Bishop Heelan HS (Iowa) for four years and participated in several Iowa state track meets. 

Stable of Running Backs…Fast Running Backs Part II

We highlighted Alabama’s stable of running backs a while back, including new Heisman “favorite” Mark Ingram.  But looking at the success of Georgia Tech and Idaho it is clear that they have a ton of talent and speed at the running back position.  There’s a lot more to winning football games than having a couple of fast running backs BUT…Alabama, Georgia Tech and Idaho have a combined record of 19-2!

Georgia Tech has running backs Jonathan Dwyer, Anthony Allen, Embry Pebbles, Marcus Wright, and Josh Nesbitt (we’ll secretly count Nesbitt as a back).   All these players have high school track and field backgrounds and all but Allen were state track meet qualifiers in Georgia, Florida and Texas. 

Idaho’s top three rushers Princeton McCarty, Deonte Jackson, and DeMaundray Woolridge (a Washington State transfer) have helped lead the squad to a surprising 6-1 record.  Each of these players were track sprinters in high school with Jackson sprinting (6.70) 55 meters, McCarty qualifying for the state meet in California 100 meter dash (10.70) and Woolridge running as fast as (10.74) 100 meter dash in Texas.  Keep in mind Woolridge is now listed at 241 pounds!     


Local Shout

Gotta send a shout to the Bulldogs of Butler University (Indianapolis).  They’re 6-0 on the season and play in the Pioneer League (non-scholarship Division 1-AA…errr I mean D1 FCS).  I haven’t seen them have this kind of success since the days of record breaking running back Arnold Mickens.  Glad my alma mater isn’t just a basketball school anymore.   












Marquise Goodwin the latest track phenom playing college football

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

Marquise Goodwin, University of Texas wide receiver, burst onto the college football scene Saturday against the Oklahoma Sooners.  The true freshman’s statistics weren’t outstanding, 4 catches for 36 yards and a touchdown.  But his skills as a receiver surprised many, highlighted during a difficult diving catch along the sideline.  Intially he came to Texas on a track scholarship and somewhat overlooked as a potential football contributor but that has changed.    

Goodwin’s track ability is well documented, although early in his high school career his track skills were questioned too.  That is no longer the case as he’s the national record-holder in the long jump.  His track accolades are so numerous it would almost be embarrassing to list them all. 

Here’s a brief look: 

Attended Garland Rowlett HS, Texas and graduated in 2009.  State champion Class 5A – triple jump (50’05), long jump (26’04), 4×100 (40.86), state runner-up 100 meter dash (10.24 wind-aided) and 200 meter dash (21.24 wind-aided).  Throw in a (6.76) 60 meter dash effort at the Carl Lewis HS Indoor Invitational in 2009. 

Goodwin is probably the most decorated former high school track athlete currently playing college football.  Florida’s Jeff Demps is certainly the fastest but Goodwin wouldn’t be too far behind in a race.  Demps has successfully transitioned into an SEC running back and in the process had the “track guy” label dropped…yes intially he had the label.  It was not deserved. 

Goodwin will have to battle to be seen as just a football player too.  I heard during the national telecast Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit on numerous occasions say that Goodwin “is a football player WITH track speed” or “Goodwin’s not a track guy playing football but a football player that runs track”.  Truth be told Musberger and Herbstreit could have said that about half the Texas roster and nearly all the skill players because nearly all have tremendous high school track and field backgrounds. 

No misunderstanding…Herbstreit and Musberger pointing out Goodwin’s track ability and accomplishments is good (track and field needs all the attention it can get) but sometimes broadcaster attention can place unfair labels, like the dreaded “track guy” label, on players.  I just hope Goodwin doesn’t start dropping passes and running improper routes because if he does it might not be perceived as a lapse of concentration or just a bad game; more than likely it’ll be attributed to his participation and background in track and field.          

Hopefully Goodwin continues to grow and improve as a football player and has success as a track athlete at Texas.  The NCAA needs more two-sport athletes and hopefully he’ll be one of ‘em.

Purdue and the linebacking crew come through

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

Purdue comes through defeating Ohio State easily qualifying as the team’s biggest win so far under first year head coach Danny Hope.  In fact, this counts as Purdue’s only other win this season under Hope but four of their five losses have been by seven points or less.  They’ve lost by two to a ranked Oregon team and by a field goal to Notre Dame.  This is Purdue’s first win over a ranked opponent in six years.   

Turnovers (ranked last in the Big 10 coming into the Ohio State game) and poor special teams play have killed Purdue in almost every game until today.  I took some heat when I endorsed the speed of Purdue’s linebackers before the start of the season.  Purdue’s defense has been put in terrible situations this year due to turnovers and lack of offensive production but today they played great.

Ted Ginn Sr. – Above and beyond the track and football connection

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Posted by Mark Brastad – Football Talent Advisors

The ugly saga between Rush Limbaugh and the St. Louis Rams has dominated the football headlines recently making it tough for football fans to find something, anything, uplifting.  An article by The New York Times about Ted Ginn Sr did the trick however.  I must thank for linking the article, HP often finds and links the good stuff football fans appreciate.    

Tedd Ginn Sr is quite an inspiration…and what a fantastic role model.  He impacted my views about the track / football connection years ago but obviously this man stands for much more than sports.  I was blown away by what he’s accomplished and the work he continues to do for young people.

Interestingly enough a great deal of Ginn’s recent success with the academy, educational center and so on can be linked back to his days as a football and track coach at Glenville High School.  His coaching experience gave him contact with young people outside the typical boundaries of school and his ability to positively influence them increased every year.  Football and track helped improve the lives of a lot of young people through the guidance of Ginn. 

Ginn’s coaching history is extensive but he coached five consecutive state champion track teams (2003-2007) at Glenville and sent over 50 football players to the  D1 schools with five currently in the NFL.  He’s guided and saved countless other student athletes along the way through sports.  As he puts it “Football and track are just the vehicles we use to ride in”.

Freshman of Influence – Week 6

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

The college season is half over and still there are new freshman making an impact each week.  This week I’m going to focus a little more on defensive positions. 

Before I get to the players…it is amazing the amount of impact freshman players with multi-sport backgrounds (particularly track and field).  The continued specialization of high school athletes doesn’t seem to apply to these players.  Being an athlete does translate to high level football more often than not. 


Freshman of Influence Week 6:


Jerel Worthy, DT – Michigan State

MSU certainly got themselves an active player in Worthy.  Through six games he’s managed 4.5 sacks, 6 tfls, 17 tackles and 2 pass breakups.  Listed at 6’03 290+ he’s a athlete…his junior year in high school he sprinted indoors for Huber Heights Wayne HS (Ohio) going 7.56/55 meter dash.  Not impressive for a sprinter but he was 6’02 270 plus pounds!  He also threw the shot put, around 42 feet. 

Mike Taylor, LB – Wisconsin

Taylor leads the Badgers in total tackles (43) through six games and combine that with 6.5 tfls, one sack and one forced fumble and that’s impressive for any freshman!  While he wasn’t a track athlete in high school he did manage to win the Wisconsin 215lb High School Wrestling Championship for Ashwaubenon HS in 2008.  That tells you right there he’s extremely tough and athletic.  

Demetrius Hartsfield, LB – Maryland

Hartsfield is currently Maryland’s second leading tackler (40) and throw in 3 sacks, 4.5 tfls and 1 pass breakup.  It is easy to categorize Hartsfield as a pure athlete…he played basketball for Southeast Raleigh HS (North Carolina) and threw the shot put (47’03) on the track team as well as ran the 200 and long jumped.  

Chance Casey, CB – Baylor

This player has made has presence known with 2 interceptions, one being returned for touchdown, and three passes defensed on the season.  Chance is an extraordinary hurdler in track and field.  His junior year at Crosby HS (Texas) he won the 110 high hurdle (13.87) and 300 intermediate hurdle (36.32)  Class 4A state championship.  He won the 300 hurdle championship again as a senior…add in a 6’08 high jump effort at the Region 3-4A Meet in 2008 and you’ve got quite an athlete!  As good a hurdler as Chance is he’s not even the best hurdler on the Baylor football team!  That title goes to Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin. 

James Johnson, WR – Washington

Johnson came up big against Notre Dame, despite the Huskies losing the game, and against USC in the program’s biggest win in years.  The true freshman has 22 catches for 289 yards and 2 touchdowns on the year.  He was also a high school hurdler at Valley Center HS (California) having best FAT times of (14.73) in the 110 hurdles and (39.58) in the 300 intermediates.  He also threw some discus too.

Bernard Pierce, RB – Temple

Pierce was recently named the MAC Conference Offensive Player of the Week.  I think that speaks to this freshman’s talent and ability.  His statistics are just as impressive through five games – 84 attempts for 489 yards and 5 touchdowns, having amassed at least 100 yards in the past three contests against MAC opponents. 

I should mention his bio says he ran as fast as 10.6 “fastest in the state”…while I couldn’t find that anywhere I did verify he ran for Glen Mills HS (Pennsylvania).  His best verified times appear to be 10.94 / 100 meters and as fast as 6.57 (hand-held) / 55 meter dash, 6.98 / 60 at PTFCA Indoor State and 4×100 relay (42.53) which qualified for the outdoor state meet in 2008.  At 6’0 and over 210 pounds this player has the size and speed to continue to impact the MAC for several years. 






Freshman of Influence – Week 5

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

A few freshman running backs highlight this week’s group and a couple of Indy local shouts.


Freshman of Influence Week 5:


LaMichael James, RB – Oregon

This one is probably overdue considering James is one of the top rushers in the nation and he’s one of the fastest too.  He’s rushed for over 580 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Include a 10.65 / 100 meter dash in high school (Liberty-Elyau, Texas) and 4×100 (42.14) and he’s one exciting player with a big future. 

Larry Caper, RB – Michigan State

Big and physical back helped MSU beat Michigan and scored the game winning touchdown in overtime.  Caper is helped too by his speed, evidenced in his high school track career.  He ran for Battle Creek HS in Michigan running 4×100 (42.43) and 4×200 (1:31.11) and long jumping almost 21 feet.  He qualified for state track meet several times. 

Chad Bumphis, WR – Mississippi State

Young true freshman currently leads squad in receptions and receiving yards.  Very solid high school track athlete as well…ran for Tupelo HS (Mississippi) 11.08 / 100, 22.45 / 200, and 4×100 (43.00) and 4×200 (1:28.75), and long jumped over 21 feet.  Qualified for state meet in multiple events. 

Mohamed Sanu, WR – Rutgers

This player certainly passes the eye test, listed at 6’02 215.  Not great production so far but he’s on a pretty solid team.  He’s got some serious athleticism to compliment his size running track for South Brunswick HS (New Jersey).  Triple jump was his best event leaping as far as 46’01 and long jumping almost 22 feet, played quarterback in high school. 

Local Shout  

Luke Swift, WR/KR – Miami of Ohio

Good to see a few more true freshman players from Indianapolis area high schools making contributions at the D1 level.  Luke doesn’t have many stats yet as a receiver but has 15 kickoffs for over 200 return yards.  He was a very good high school hurdler at Center Grove high school.  Finished third at the Indiana state track meet in 110 hurdles (14.28) and fifth in 300 hurdles (38.45) also ran a blistering 7.39 / 55 hurdles at Hoosier State Indoor Relays as a senior.  Hope he can start turning Miami of O fortunes. 

Chris Jones, DT – Bowling Green

Another Indianapolis area high school player, played at Brownsburg HS, making an impact as a true freshman…currently has 13 tackles, one sack and one TFL for BGSU.  Not bad for a player that wasn’t heavily pursued by D1 programs.  I might add that Chris was one of the best high school shot putters in Indiana, throwing 57’05 at a sectional meet and qualifying for state also threw discus 136’00.  Most impressive (in my opinion) he ran 7.35 / 55 meter dash at the Cathedral Indoor Meet (2009), that’s something for a 6’02 270 athlete.    




UTEP beats Houston…fighting speed with speed.

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

Week 5 in college football has come and gone and as always a few surprises.  Maybe the least surprising is Houston getting beat ending their dream to bust the BCS.  Maybe the most surprising was Houston losing to UTEP.  But I like what UTEP did offensively against Houston.  They used speed against speed! 

Houston has an explosive offense with a ton of speed.  Houston’s defense, while having a lot of speed, isn’t the biggest or most stout against the run.  UTEP handed off to Donald Buckram 32 times…so what you ask?  Well, before the Houston game Buckram had a career high 20 carries for 107 yards against Tulane.  Did I mention that Buckram was one of the fastest high school sprinters in the country in 2006?   He used that speed to gash Houston for 262 yards and 4 touchdowns.   

Buckram ran a fully-automatic 10.25 / 100 meter dash at the Texas District 13-5A Meet in 2006.  Here’s the stats from 

 A few other recognizable football names in the above high school results too.  Notice Artrell Woods (WR – Ok State) and Robert Griffin (QB – Baylor) in there?  Unfortunately a weight lifting accident ending Woods’ career early. 

Buckram even ran some track while at UTEP running 10.80 /100 at the C-USA Outdoor Championships in 2008.  That’s not super fast but certainly his speed “transfers” to the field.  UTEP’s offensive line also deserves a lot of credit for last night’s outstanding performance and win…