Murray key factor for the dangerous Raiders this season

Syracuse native and Oakland Raiders starting running back Latavius Murray finds himself in a very crucial role heading into the 2016 NFL Season. With an explosive offense that features Amari Cooper, Derek Carr, and Michael Crabtree, Murray will be called upon to handle a majority of the carries. This is a role Murray has been preparing for since the Raiders drafted the running back out of the University of Central Florida in the 6th round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Murray

However, the road hasn’t been easy. He saw his rookie season end in August 2013 due to a leg injury. That season he learned the Raiders offense under fellow running back mentors Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew. Despite finally being healthy for the 2014 season, Murray found himself 3rd on the depth chart. After fellow backs McFadden & Jones-Drew failed to produce, the Raiders turned to Murray in Week 12 against the Kansas City Chiefs. In a key AFC West matchup Murray exploded with 4 carries for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns, one of which was a 90 yard rush. His productive day came to a halt when he was taken out of the game after his 4th carry due to a concussion.

Entering the 2015 season, Murray was named the starting running back due to the departure of McFadden and the retirement of Jones-Drew. He saw his biggest game occur during Week 3 vs the Cleveland Browns in which he rushed for a career high 139 yards on 26 carries and finished with a TD. On December 24, 2015, Murray became the 1st Raiders running back to rush for 1000 yards since his former teammate Darren Mcfadden did it in 2010. However, Murray suffered another concussion during week 9 after a vicious hit by Steelers safety Mike Mitchell. This injury sidelined Murray for quite some time but he was still named to the Pro Bowl.

If Latavius Murray can finally stay healthy for the entire 2016 NFL Season, the Oakland Raiders are in great shape to compete for a playoff spot and return to greatness. He appears to see a majority of the team’s carries among fellow backs Taiwan Jones and Roy Helu. Could be another Pro Bowl season for Murray!

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D3 All-American Peebles FINALLY a step closer to his dream

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Port Leyden is like many Northern New York towns. With a population size of only 673 residents and limited job opportunities what could you possibly do? Meet Dylan Peebles, an explosive running back from Division 3 SUNY Cortland.

While growing up in Port Leyden, Peebles fell in love with the sport of football thanks to his father Darren who managed the district’s Pop Warner Football Program. Darren served as a key mentor for his son Dylan as well as his youngest son Devan throughout their football careers at South Lewis Central School.

Peebles began his career as the starting running back for the South Lewis Falcons Varsity Football Team as a 9th grader. It was then that coaches and players around the league began to notice the talent and athleticism this kid displayed. He was quick and very explosive due to his track & field nature. He was a human wrecking ball lowering his shoulder, running through and around opponent defenses. His coaches utilized his ability as much as possible playing him at kick returner, punt returner, cornerback, safety, defensive end, linebacker, kicker, and punter.

Peebles finished his football career at South Lewis as the all-time leading rusher with 691 carries for 5,207 yards and 51 Touchdowns. Overall he broke five school records for the most touchdowns in a season and his career among others. He was also named 1st team Class D All-State. After drawing interest from several colleges, Peebles chose Division 1-AA Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina. He was red shirted by the Fighting Camels in Fall 2011 due to the team having 3 senior running backs. Peebles remained humble and confident that his time to shine would rise again and continued training in the offseason. However entering his sophomore year at Campbell, Peebles found himself seeing limited action on the kickoff & punt units.

Looking to transfer and get on the field right away, Peebles chose Suny Cortland back in NY over other Division 1 Programs so he didn’t have to sit out a year due to NCAA eligibility rules. In his first career carry for the Red Dragons, Peebles bolted 68 yards for a touchdown vs Buffalo State. It looked as if this was the chance Peebles needed to pursue his dream of reaching the next level of play. While at Cortland, Peebles served as the team’s kickoff return specialist, leading rusher, and total yardage gainer. In 2014 he was named a Division 3 All-American Kick Returner taking 3 kickoffs to the house. His career defining moment occurred on the biggest stage vs nationally ranked rival Ithaca college for the”biggest little game in the nation” known as the Cortaca Jug. The Red Dragons found themselves trailing early in the 4th quarter when the Bombers kicked off to Peebles. Peebles returned the kickoff to the house completely changing the momentum of the game. Cortland would go on to defeat Ithaca 23-20 on a botched field goal attempt that turned into a touchdown as 10,000 fans erupted.

Peebles received 1st team All-Conference honors in 2013, 2014, and 2015. He was also named to the All-East Region team in 2014 on top of his All-American Kick Returning status and was named NJAC Player of the The Week three times. After graduating from Cortland in 2015, Peebles was confident he could compete at the next level due to his already decorative playing career. He was invited to the FCS Bowl in Florida to compete amongst the top D1-AA talents in the nation and was one of the only Division 3 small school prospects to compete in the game. While in Florida a scout from the New York Jets approached Peebles showing interest. Peebles found himself driving 1 hour each day to Accelerate Sports in Utica for personal training sessions in preparation for regional combines, hoping to catch the attention of NFL Scouts. He had a respectable day running a 4.5 40 yard dash despite fighting the flu. Surprisingly enough Peebles found himself without a Pro Day invite despite posting better numbers than a majority of the running backs who were eligible for this years NFL Draft.

When the NFL Draft approached in April, Peebles seemed confident that the New York Jets would sign him as an undrafted free agent. The day before the draft they contacted him advising that he stay close to the phone all weekend. However, Peebles found himself waiting for a phone call that never came. His agent advised him that everything was going to be okay and that potential training camp opportunities would open up down the road. Peebles continued to make his hourly drive to Accelerate to train for whatever came next and staying ready. He sent his highlight film out to multiple leagues hoping to get an opportunity.

One day he received a Facebook message from a past football source informing him of a potential playing opportunity. He sent his film to the directed destination and later that day received a shocking phone call. On the other end of the line was Marvin Jones, a former NFL Linebacker for the Jets. He was the 4th overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft out of Florida State. Jones went on to have a 10 year NFL Career and was named 1st team All-Pro in 2000. He called informing Dylan that he was the director of player personnel for the SoCal Coyotes of the LCFL, the top developmental football team in the nation. Along with Jones, Head Coach J David Miller immediately fell in love with what Peebles brought to the table.

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Peebles reports for camp in Southern California July 28th to pursue his football dream. Every player on the Coyotes was offered a workout last season with 15 of those being with NFL & CFL teams. Peebles will wear #22 for the Coyotes, the same jersey number he dominated in throughout high school. We wish Dylan Peebles the best of luck on his path to pursuing his dream of playing in the NFL. #DontBeOverlooked

 

 

 

D2 Prospect Nadler Performs On & Off The Field

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Being a college athlete is difficult especially when you must balance between having a social, academic, and athletic lifestyle. However, Division 2 QB Liam Nadler found a way to go above and beyond.

Nadler, a 6’7 235 pound gunslinger, graduated from Gannon University in Pennsylvania as magna cum laude obtaining a 3.87 cumulative grade point average while receiving a bachelor’s degree in political science. With the combination of his academic and athletic performances Nadler was named an Academic All-American for the 2nd consecutive season, an award that was only received by one other quarterback in the country.

Despite being red shirted his freshmen year, Nadler went on to smash Gannon record books as he finished his career with 11,160 passing yards and 82 touchdowns. He also accumulated 16 300-yard passing games and 30 200-yard passing games in his career becoming Gannon’s all-time leader.

After an impressive showing at the NFL Combine, Nadler received interest from various teams including the Texans, Steelers, Eagles, Chargers, and Jets. Despite drafting Penn State Quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the 2nd round, the New York Jets came out on top and invited Nadler to minicamp.

Nadler finds himself in a very interesting spot with the Jets, a team known for their quarterback struggles. Could it be the inconsistent Geno Smith that the team turns to or the newly drafted Hackenberg? Or could it be a sleeper within like Division 2 undrafted free agent Liam Nadler? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this all plays out. Expect Nadler to enjoy the ride regardless of what happens.

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How did two D3 products become NFL teammates?

It’s a remarkable story nobody expected. How did two division 3 football players become NFL teammates despite taking very different paths?

Meet Ali Marpet, an offensive tackle from Hobart College in Upstate NY. Marpet was an unheard of prospect finishing up his football career until he received an invite to the Senior Bowl via area scout Andre Ford. Ford began noticing Marpet’s athleticism due to his excellent pass protection, physical awareness, and his dominant pancakes on opponent defensive linemen. After a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, Marpet attended the NFL combine. It was here that he showcased his athletic ability the most by recording the fastest 40-yard dash for an offensive linemen with a time of 4.98.

NFL: DEC 27 Bears at Buccaneers

 

Jason Licht, the GM for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, expressed key issues heading into the draft at OL as well as selecting a franchise QB. However, Licht thought more along the lines of drafting a big school player until scout Andre Ford mentioned Ali Marpet. Despite questioning his ability to compete at the next level, Licht traded up in the 2015 NFL Draft to select Marpet 61st overall, making him the highest player drafted in Division 3 history.

Now with the Buccaneers drafting Heisman Trophy QB Jameis Winston, Marpet soon found himself blocking for the best QB in college football, a dream that at times looked impossible. Last season, the two joked about how Marpet’s Alma mater Hobart College would beat Winston’s Alma mater Florida State in a game. Currently Marpet starts at right tackle for the Bucs and is looking forward to another strong campaign in his 2nd season in the NFL.

Now meet Donteea Dye, a wide receiver from Division 3 Heidelberg. Despite posting an impressive 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, Dye remained undrafted after the conclusion of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Dye

However, you know what team brought him into training camp? That’s right folks, it was Jason Licht’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The GM saw the talent that Dye displayed and after an impressive preseason, it was Dye catching passes from the Famous Jameis Winston. Dye finished his 1st season in the NFL with 10 catches for 127 yds and a touchdown. With continued training with fellow star wide receiver Mike Evans, Donteea Dye could very well be a key factor for Tampa this season. There you have it, two Division 3 products making a difference in the NFL. So, are you feeling overlooked? #Motivation

 

Williams remains positive despite a rocky road

Sheed

Former Alfred State star Rasheed Williams might be one of the more talented running backs we’ve seen out of D3 in the last few seasons. However, his journey has been far from easy. After rushing for 1,676 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2014, Williams was cut by the Detroit Lions in May 2015 despite a strong performance in minicamp. Here’s a player who averaged 6.7 yards per carry while averaging 186.2 yards per game on a below average Pioneers squad.

Williams remained positive though and continued training in the offseason. On January 30th 2016, he was drafted by Team Cottrell in the inaugural season of Major League Football. Just when it looked like Rasheed Williams was finally getting the chance he deserved things changed for the worse.

In April, Major League Football announced that they were pulling the plug on their inaugural 2016 season due to a lack of funding and that it would be a developmental year with no competition.

Luckily, the CFL agreed to host tryouts and it was the Saskatchewan Roughriders who showed the most interest in Rasheed Williams. He attended minicamp hosted in Vero Beach, Florida where he displayed so much athleticism that they recently invited him to their training camp in Saskatoon at the end of May.

We wish Rasheed all the best in his journey to the top and remember athletes be patient but never settle! #DontBeOverlooked

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Is Carson Wentz “the guy” in Philly?

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When the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Carson Wentz 2nd overall in this year’s draft, it was all but clear that the small school QB would be the starter. However, all the rumors that Sam Bradford was going to be out have been squashed as the veteran quarterback competed in minicamp today where sources say he looked equally as good as the rookie Wentz.

When the Rams took Jared Goff 1st overall in this year’s draft, it became clear that the team felt Wentz was a huge risk because he played in the FCS where many will argue that the level of competition isn’t as good. However, the Eagles obviously saw something they liked in the North Dakota State Quarterback or they wouldn’t have traded up to get him. Yet again, can you blame them?

Wentz fits all the dynamics of being an NFL QB. He’s 6’5 and has vision some compare to that of Peyton Manning the way he can pick a defense apart. Not only can Wentz beat you in the pocket with his pinpointing accuracy and consistent throwing power, he isn’t afraid to scramble to pick up 1st down yardage or dive in the end-zone either. He ran a pro-style offense in college which should transition well to the NFL as well as his ability to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage before the snap. Oh, did I mention he likes to win?

In 2014 it was Wentz who led North Dakota State to their 4th consecutive FCS Championship in a season where he threw for 3,111 yards and 25 touchdowns.  In 2015, Wentz managed to throw for 1,454 yards and 16 touchdowns despite missing 8 games. Determined to compete in the final game of his college career, Wentz returned for the FCS Championship game vs Jacksonville State where he scrambled for two touchdowns and tossed his third as North Dakota State won their 5th consecutive title.

At the NFL combine, Wentz truly showcased his athleticism placing in the top 3 for quarterback performances and scored 40/50 on the wonderlic intelligence test. Should Wentz start for the Eagles he will have plenty to work with this season with key targets Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor,and free agent signing Rueben Randle. Look for Carson Wentz to be trending positively on social media.

 

Boltus finding his way in the AFL

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He might not have made it in the NFL but he still owns the record at the combine for the most bench press reps by a quarterback with 26.

Jason Boltus, a standout from Division 3 Hartwick College is entering his 5th season in the Arena Football League and 2nd consecutive season with the Tampa Bay Storm. The 6’3 220 pound Boltus has really put together a decorative career, passing for 9,191 yards and 185 touchdowns.

In his first season with the Storm, Boltus found himself setting franchise records as he amassed 5,025 yards passing and threw an impressive 98 touchdowns. There’s no question Boltus can compete with the best of them. A Gagliardi Trophy finalist in 2007 at Hartwick, Boltus also claimed the Melberger Award as the top player in all of Division 3. He finished his career for the Hawks with 13,276 passing yards and 134 touchdowns.