JayDawg's Blog

A Sports Blog about the Georgia Bulldogs, SEC Football, Soccer, and other topics.

16 Jul

What's Next for the USMNT?


TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Sad to say, the World Cup is officially over.  The USMNT had a good World Cup overall.  The US got out of the "Group of Death" despite the doubters and showed that they can compete with the best. Jurgen Klinsmann has been somewhat of a controversial manager at times, but his decision-making overall has been pretty good. This 2014 World Cup has been one to remember.  It has galvanised the US fans and seem to be another step in the US becoming a full-fledged soccer nation.  So what's next for the USMNT? Let's find out. 

Future Friendlies

Sept. 3: USMNT vs. Czech Republic

Nov. 18: USMNT vs. Republic of Ireland

The United States keeps looking forward as it schedules two international friendlies a few months after the World Cup. The first is against the Czech Republic in one of Europe's most beautiful cities in Prague on September 3.  Also according to Irish Media reports last week, the Republic of Ireland has agreed to host the US in an international friendly match in Dublin, Ireland.  The US will of course play other friendlies as well in the future.  


2015 Gold Cup

The CONCACAF confederation had a fine showing in the World Cup and earned a little more respect when it comes to the world stage.  The United States and Mexico both got out of their group and barely lost to two good teams in the Round of 16.  Costa Rica proved to be the cinderella team this summer in Brazil as Los Ticos bonded together and got all the way to the Quarter-finals where they lost to the Netherlands in penalties.  

The CONCACAF's success will make for an even more exciting Gold Cup next summer.  The Gold Cup, for any soccer novice, takes place every two years and is the championship of the CONCACAF confederation.  It pits twelve teams from CONCACAF in a tournament to decide this confederation's championship. The 2015 edition should feature teams like defending champ USA, the talented Mexicans, the dangerous Costa Ricans, 2013 runner-up Panama, among others.  There is a series of qualifications that takes place for every team except the US, Mexico, and Canada.

The winner of the 2015 Gold Cup will face the defending champ United States in a playoff to decide who gets the CONCACAF's bid to represent the region in the 2017 Confederations Cup (more on that later).  If the US wins the Gold Cup next year, it automatically is guaranteed a spot in the Confederations Cup.  The Gold Cup will also serve as qualification for our next event.  

2016 Copa America Centenario & the Summer Olympics

The Copa America, or the tournament to decide the South American or CONMEBOL champion, is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016.  For this special edition, the Cup will not only feature top teams of South America but also several top CONCACAF teams. The Copa America Centenario will be hosted in the United States.  Thus the home team US squad and Mexico will not have to qualify for this tournament.  This competition will most likely be another great step in growing soccer in the United States. Just think, Neymar and Brazil, Messi and Argentina, Suarez and Uruguay, James Rodriguez and Colombia possibly playing in your backyard.  

The scheduling and logistics of the Copa America Centenario will be quite complicated and crazy because there is another big event coming up that same summer. That event is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which will host the Summer Olympics.  Yes, football, a.k.a soccer, is in the Olympics.  In the Olympics each country (that qualifies) has to field an U-23 squad, so we will not see the same talent that we see in other competitions. Mexico took the gold medals in the 2012 edition. Could hometown Brazil get revenge? 

2017 FIFA Confederations Cup & 2018 World Cup 

Granted the US either win the 2015 Gold Cup or beat the winner in a playoff, they will clinch a spot in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.  It's kind of like a warm-up for the World Cup.  It's obviously not as important, but it still gives teams another chance to showcase their talents and seize bragging rights.  Sorry, Brazil, that didn't last long.  

Then in 2018, we have another World Cup which will hopefully have as much drama as this year's edition.  Will Germany defend their title and could they be a dynasty? Will Brazil even qualify? There are many questions like these that will be answered in 4 years time.

Overall, I am sad that the World Cup is over, but there's still a lot going on with the USMNT. From friendlies, qualifiers, and big tournaments, we'll see the last of some beloved veterans and the emergence of new stars. Looking forward to the Gold Cup, until then time for the other football.

For more sports news, follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydawg

30 Jun

Looking back: The Controversial Suarez

When Uruguayan star striker Luis Suarez bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in last Tuesday's game at the World Cup, shockwaves exploded across the internet and into houses across the globe.  Not only did it prove a hit to Suarez's career in the short term, it also hurt his team and lost the trust of many people.  This bite was bad enough, but it's not Suarez's only history of problems.

Yeah, he's done it before.  In 2010 when Suarez was at Ajax in the Dutch Eredivisie league, he served a seven game suspension after biting PSV Eindhoven MF Otman Bakkal. The same year he got in trouble for an intentional handball on a header bound toward the goal against Ghana. Fast-forward a year to Liverpool vs. Manchester United, Suarez received an eight game ban and was fined for racially abusing an opposing player.  

Then in 2013, Suarez bit Chelsea D Branislav Ivanovic and was suspended for 10 games.  What's worse after his most recent escapade is that Suarez denied biting Chiellini deliberately.  Suarez said, "I lost my balance, making my body unstable, and falling on top of my opponent." Well, we now know he's a liar too.  Watch the replay!  He clearly bit the Italian defender DELIBERATELY. 

The Infamous Teeth Marks Left by Suarez on Tuesday

The most glaring problem with Suarez is his biting scandals.  What could make a man bite another player out of anger? Apart from it being awful, biting is just strange and doesn't make sense for a grown man to do.  A normal soccer player's first reflex as a defense mechanism or act of aggression is to shove someone, or slide tackle them, or even elbow them.  But who bites? There is something clearly wrong with Suarez.  This guy has to have some type of mental problem and needs to see a psychologist. 

But of course this guy gets a pass because he is an athlete.  He's a good one as well.  He's considered by many as one of the superstars of soccer and was a major reason Liverpool experienced so much success in the EPL this season.  Suarez is a difference maker.  This is evidenced on the club level and at the international level as well.  

Luis Suarez Has Proven to Be One of the Stars in the Premier League 

After the public outrage of the Suarez bite last week, FIFA banned Suarez from nine international matches and a four month suspension from all football related activities.  He was also fined $112,000. This will not only hurt and has hurt the Uraguayan side, but it will also affect Liverpool FC as they will be missing Suarez for the early part of the EPL season.  Suarez will certainly regret his actions, but is the suspension enough? 

No, it's not.  It's his third biting offense as we have already mentioned.  The suspension levied by FIFA won't really affect Suarez's livelihood.  I mean; he has a net worth of 40 million dollars.  The fine is just a scratch on the surface of Suarez's wealth.  

What should happen is that he should be suspended from all football events for at least a year and have to pay more fines. That won't happen.  He's a great player which means more success and more money.  That's the bottom line. It's about money.  Funny how it blinds people, even when biting is involved.  

For more World Cup news and news throughout the sports world, follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydawg

28 Jun

A Nation's Hopes Live On

Pressure. That's what Brazil was facing.  Every member of the Brazilian squad was under enormous pressure from both their hometown fans and the world as a whole.  A country filled with unrest, rampant poverty, and numerous protests in the past few years, was looking to their beloved national team to take their minds away from the hardships at home and hopefully win a remarkable sixth World Cup.  

These hopes looked in the balance today in Brazil's 2nd round game against Chile.  Early on, the Brazilians looked in control of the game in the early-goings. In the 18th minute, Chile scored an own goal on a set piece, though the goal was credited to Brazil's David Luiz.  Chile then answered in the 32nd minute with a goal by F Alexis Sanchez who is teammates with Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

Alexis Sanchez Celebrates His Equalizer

Both teams were chippy throughout the game, as numerous fouls occurred and cards were given out. The game went back and forth the rest of the time with both teams taking multiple shots and maintaining possession almost equally.  

In the second half, Brazil's Hulk made a great run, received a pass from Marcelo, and put the ball in the back of the net.  However, the goal was disallowed on a controversial call of a handball by the official.  Nevertheless, the replay clearly showed that the ball glanced off Hulk's shoulder, and thus the referee made the right call.  Chile kept the momentum on their side, and the Brazilian squad was very tense to say the least.  

The rest of the match remained scoreless and was forced to go into extra time and then penalties. At the end of the 2nd extra time, Chilean F Mauricio Pinilla struck the ball off the crossbar, inches away from sending Brazil home.  GK Julio Cesar of Brazil made two terrific saves on the first two Chilean penalties while both David Luiz and Marcelo converted their penalties. 

Brazilian Keeper Julio Cesar Blocks the Penalty Kick of Chilean Star Alexis Sanchez. 

Down 2-0 in penalties, Chile answered with two scores by Charles Aranguiz and Marcelo Diaz. Then with the pressure of a country on his shoulders, the bright, young star Neymar stutter-stepped and put a ball promptly in the goal.  That proved to be the go-ahead score as Gonzalo Jara's shot glanced off the post thus shattering Chile's upset hopes as well.  

Neymar Celebrates

Brazil has shown what could be some fatal flaws and weaknesses in their latest game and throughout this World Cup.  Nonetheless, the millions of people throughout Brazil still have something to cling to - their beloved national team.  Success in the beautiful game is something the Brazilian people can take pride in.  In American terms, it's patriotism.  For Brazil, it's hope. It's a break from the struggles of normal life.  It's more than just a game.  

The pressure on each Brazilian player is hard to understand. For Julio Cesar, he dreams of redeeming himself from his disappointing performance in the last World Cup and doesn't want to be remembered like the infamous Barbosa.  For Neymar, it's the pressure of being expected to carry Brazil and beliefs that he could be the next Pele.  For Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, he doesn't want to be remembered as the coach who oversaw Brazil's defeat on their own soil.  

The game wasn't pretty.  Questions still remain.  Brazil is expected, almost commanded to win this World Cup.  Many outsiders don't think they can now, but that doesn't matter to the Brazilian populace. As long as Neymar, Hulk, David Luiz and crew continue to don the old yellow and blue, there is still a chance.  There is still hope.  There is still the beautiful game.  

For more World Cup coverage and news throughout the world of sports, follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydawg

19 Jun

After Memorable Win, the US Sets Sights on Portugal

What a game and what a victory! After being knocked out of the World Cup the last two times by Ghana, the third time was definitely the charm.  The US desperately wanted this win.  They needed to get at least a point out of this match, but they got three.  It was an important step in traversing through the "Group of Death."  Concerns still surfaced throughout this game, but the US won, and that is all that matters. 

The US started off with a bang as Clint Dempsey scored a goal within the first 30 odd seconds against Ghana.  The Black Stars then settled down and started being very dangerous.  The US didn't play the greatest game and was weakened by numerous injuries and rampant exhaustion.  Ghana had most of the possession time this game, and their dangerous speed and attacking prowess led to a goal in the 82nd minute by Andre Ayew.  Jurgen Klinsmann had been stressing the importance of getting three points in this first group stage game; that hope looked all but over.  



Captain America A.K.A Clint Dempsey Scores the 1st Goal

Ghana kept attacking and looked dangerous the rest of the game.  The US looked like they would have to settle for a draw.  That changed in dramatic fashion.  On a US corner, Defender John Brooks headed in the go-ahead goal to beat Ghana in the 86th minute.  Brooks is only 21 and is very inexperienced.  Klinsmann has been criticized for deciding to bring him to Brazil.  Everyone is very glad he did.  The US hung on and played good enough defense to knock-off Ghana in a game that will be remembered for a long time.  

Brooks' Game-Winning Goal With Time Winding Down

Questions and concerns became evident in this game such as the absence of possession time for the US, injuries of Jozy Altidore, Matt Besler, and others, and the United State's ability to cope with the conditions of Brazil.  It wasn't the cleanest game as mistakes and miscues occurred frequently, but as former USMNT player Alexi Lalas said about the match,

"No,  it wasn't progressive or new. But I don't care. It was American. It was who we are. It was beautiful."

While the win was a huge result for the US, Klinsmann and crew don't have much time to celebrate right now.  They have to face Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in Manaus in the Amazonian rainforest on Sunday night.  There are some key concerns heading into this match for both teams in what will prove to be a very important game. 

Portugal comes into the game after a depressing and demoralizing start to say the least.  They lost their first group stage match at the hands of the powerful Germans, 4-0.  As evidenced by the final score, this game was never close.  While Portugal has to mentally heal from a terrible loss, they also are faced with several other challenges as well.  For one, they lost starting defender Pepe because of a red card attained when he head-butted German star Thomas Muller in Monday's game.  Portugal also lost another starter in D Fabio Coentrao to an injury.  

Fortunately for Portuga, they have arguably the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo who reportedly will be 100 percent for the game against the United States.  He will be leaned upon by his team to help advance the Seleccao Das Quinas out of the "Group of Death." He is surrounded by other notables such as F Helder Postiga and M Joao Moutinho.  

Cristiano Ronaldo Is Portugal's X-factor

For the US, they will have to play without star forward Jozy Altidore who went down with a hamstring injury in the Ghana game.  It looks like the 23-year old Aron Johannsson will take his place just like he did in the rest of the Ghana match although he didn't seem to have any impact.  On the other hand, will Jurgen Klinsmann decide to put in a veteran like Chris Wondolowski in to replace him? ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman even wonders if 18-year-old Julian Green could be put in Altidore's slot.  

A key storyline in this game is how the US defense will handle a world-class striker in Ronaldo.  The US defense has been much maligned leading up to the World Cup but had a strong showing in the game against Ghana.  Good news also is that D Matt Besler who left the game will be fine for the game on Sunday.  The question mark is the left side of the US defense with DeMarcus Beasley.  Beasley seemed to be somewhat of a liability against Ghana.  Will he be able to defend the Portuguese adequately?

One of the keys to this game is how will Portugal respond after the Germany debacle.  Will they be so demoralized that it will affect their play? Or will they come back angry and with a chip on their shoulder with something to prove? Also, which Ronaldo will we see - the one that appeared virtually non-existent in the game against Germany or the one that carried his team on his shoulders in qualifiers?

This game will be very important for both teams respectively.  For the US, if Germany beats Ghana on Saturday, and they beat Portugal, they are guaranteed a spot in the round of 16.  For Portugal, a win would be a redemptive spark that could unite the Portugese and help them get out of the group.  Either way, both teams desperately need the points in this game.  Will Klinsmann's young US squad ride momentum and get a win or will Ronaldo carry his beloved nation to a beautiful 3 points?  Time will tell. 






For more World Cup coverage and other news in the world of sports, follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydawg

3 Jun

Takeaways from the USMNT's Victory over Turkey

The USMNT beat Turkey, 2-1, on Sunday in New Jersey in the 2nd of the Yanks' Send-Off Series.  This game saw the return of Clint Dempsey who's presence was surely felt as he scored a goal for the US in the 52nd minute.  The other goal for the US was in the 26th minute as Michael Bradley lobbed a beautiful ball to Fabian Johson in the box who then promptly scored.  This match was a much better performance than the Azerbaijan game, but several question marks still remain.  Here's a few positive and negative takeaways from this game.  

Dempsey & Bradley Are Co-MVPs 

With Landon Donovan not getting to go to the World Cup this year, a few veteran leaders have to step up and take control in this young and inexperienced squad.  Clint Dempsey has cemented himself as one.  He is Captain America after all.  Dempsey is not only known for his ability to put balls in the back of the net but for his leadership as well.  His absence because of groin soreness from the Azerbaijan match was clearly evident as the US offense looked stagnant for much of the game.  No one knew for sure if this would effect Dempsey's play on Sunday, but he answered with a resounding "no" with his strike from a few feet away to put the US up by two.  

Michael Bradley was playing well overseas but decided to come to the MLS to help bolster the league. Michael Bradley is a talented player both on defense and on offense.  He can set up chances for his teammates as shown in his beautiful chip asist to Fabian Johnson.  Bradley is recognized as one of the best US players who could thrive worldwide. He'll have to play up to his abilities if the USMNT is to have a chance in Brazil.  He's another guy the US will count on as one of their most critical players. 


Altidore Will Be Fine, but Could Use a Confidence Boost

Let's face it.  The referees were attrocious during this game.  It was evident in Jozy Altidore's goal in the early going that was disallowed for "shoving." It was clearly not enough to call, but Jozy was robbed of a goal that would have really given him confidence after his goal-drought and abysmal season at Sunderland. One could see Altidore was not himself mentally passing the ball near the box to a teamate when he should have attacked.  Overall, Jozy will be fine for this World Cup, but he needs to have his name on the score sheet just to improve his psyche.  

Julian Who?

Many including myself have raved about this youngster from Germany.  Julian Green has the ability and potential to be a star for the US in the future, but most likely not in this World Cup.  I could be wrong; he could turn it around, but so far he has looked like a deer in the headlights and has not impressed.  I'm looking forward to see Green play against Nigeria, but I don't see him doing all that much this summer.  I hope I am wrong.  

Youngsters Prove Worth

Young defenders John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin both performed well on Sunday afternoon.  Klinsmann has been critisized for bringing such young players such as Brooks and Yedlin to the World Cup.  They both had solid games of their own.  Brooks really impressed me as he seemed a lot better than his mediocre showing in the past.  Yedlin continues to showoff his speed and ability in the back.

Overall, the US victory over Turkey was encouraging but still some questions remain.  The US fans hope those questions are answered in the last game before Brazil - the Nigeria friendly on Saturday night in Jacksonville, Florida.  

Follow me on twitter: @legitjaydawg

31 May

USMNT 2014 World Cup Preview (VIDEO)


Watch as Yours Truly breaks down the US World Cup, asks burning questions, and discusses key storylines including:

-Julian Green's golden ticket 

-Landon Donovan's omission

-the US back line

-Other Key Concerns

-And Much More



Follow me on twitter: @legitjaydawg

24 May

Real Madrid Wins La Decima in One for the Ages

What a game! Real Madrid's 4-1 win over fierce rival Atletico Madrid was one for the ages.  With Real's hoisting of the 2014 UEFA Cup, it gave them their tenth UEFA Champions League title. It was an extremely close game and a physical, hard-fought football match.  Players on both sides were suffering through cramps, and there were fouls and cards given out all over the place.  It was an extremely emotional game in Lisbon, Portugal.  The 2014 UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will be talked about for years to come.

Atletico Madrid struck first in the 36th minute with a nice header by Diego Godin that caught Real's GK Iker Casillas out of position and made the score one-nil.  From that point on Atleti seemed content to play defense, and Real Madrid began attacking.  Guys like MF Angel Di Maria and Marcelo set up good chance after chance for Real, but Ronaldo, Bale, and others just couldn't capitalize.  

Atletico's Diego Godin heads a ball in for the first goal of the match. (Paneikon/Paul Hanna/Reuters)

Then in the 93rd minute when it looked like Atletico had all but won their first UEFA Champions League title, Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos headed in the equalizer to make the score 1-1.  The game then went to extra time. In the 110th minute, Real's Gareth Bale, who had been struggling the whole game missing several golden opportunities, pulled off a tremendous header that gave Real Madrid the lead, 2-1. 

Bale finally capitalizes with a marvelous header in extra time. (Getty Images)

Eight minutes later Marcelo made a goal that all but sealed the game for Real Madrid, but they weren't done.  Cristiano Ronaldo, the best football player in the world, put the game on ice after he made a cold-blooded penalty after getting fouled in Atleti's box.  The time ran out shortly afterwards, and Real Madrid won the UEFA Champions League Final and became Kings of Europe for the 10th time in the club's history.  

One has to give credit to Madrid's aggresive attacking in this game.  It really paid off in the end as Real Madrid was given numerous chances which they finally pounced upon.  It was a total team effort on both sides, and each team played an incredible game of football.  

One of the big storylines in this game was the status of Real's Cristiano Ronaldo and Atleti's Diego Costa for this huge matchup.  Ronaldo didn't seem to be hampered at all as he was not subbed out the entire match.  Costa, however, who has been bothered by a hamstring ailment that was re-injured the week before in the La Liga Final against Barcelona, only played the first nine minutes of the game then was taken out for the rest. 

Overall, congratulations to both squads on their respective fantastic seasons.  Atletico Madrid came out of nowhere and won La Liga which had previously been a two-team race between Real Madrid and Barcelona.  Although they came up short in La Liga, Real Madrid won the one that mattered most and became the 2014 UEFA Champions.  

Follow me on twitter: @legitjaydawg

12 May

USMNT: Future Footy Phenom?

In a little over a month, one of the most highly anticipated events in sports will take place. It's the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. In the 2010 edition, the US Men's National Team suffered a heartbreaking loss at the hands of Ghana. In 2011, the US hired former German football (soccer) star J├╝rgen Klinsmann to be their new manager. Klinsmann has brought new energy and an aggressive, attacking style to the Yanks. He has been a critical part of promoting football in the United States both on and off the pitch.

One advantage of having Klinsmann is his ability to recruit players throughout Europe and especially in his former home Germany that have US eligibility.  One of the Klinsmann's biggest gets lately is the promising 18-year-old Julian Green.  Green was born in Tampa, FL, to an American father and German mother. Early in his childhood, he moved to Germany and grew up playing football there. Because of his parents' respective ethnic backgrounds, Green has dual citizenship. 

Green took a major step forward in his young and blooming professional career when he signed with FC Bayern Munich in 2013 and actually got playing time against Champions League opponent CSKA Moscow. He was happy with his new, promising club career, but, with the World Cup fast approaching this summer, Green wanted to pursue international play as well. 

However, Green was faced with a problem.  He could either stick with the hometown German powerhouse squad or go to an up-and-coming team led by a brand new manager who was just trying to produce more interest in the States in a game they call "soccer." 

His decision largely came down to family ties in the US.  His father still resided in Florida. Green visited the USMNT in camp and felt welcome and happy after spending time with Klinsmann and the crew.  When Klinsmann heard the news of Green's decision, he was ecstatic that Green decided to spend his international future in the red, white, and blue.  Klinsmann had high praise for Green whom he refers to as a "very special talent." 


The 5-8, 132-pounder has been deemed by many as a child prodigy.  Green plays forward and wing and is known for his speed and agility.  He has excellent control of the ball and is thus a good dribbler.  He not only can beat opponents one-on-one with solo goals but also can set up his teammates for success.  Green is a guy that can contribute to the US team now but even more so in the future. 



Overall, I believe Green might very well be a future star for the US.  It's still hard to tell at this stage because Julian is still so young.  Make no mistake though, this kid is a special player.  He will be relied on not only to perform in Brazil but also to pick up the slack once veterans like Donovan and Dempsey are long gone.  This is a big step forward for both Green and the Yanks.  Hopefully, Green does what he is capable of doing and sees success for the US on the pitch for years to come.  

For more from around the world of sports, hit me up on Twitter: @legitjaydawg

7 May

NFLDraft: Top Available Offensive Prospects by Position

Lucas Jackson/REUTERS

Thursday marks the beginning of one of the most exciting and publisized offseason events in all of sports.  It's the NFL Draft.  This draft class proves to be another dandy as talent abounds.  Will your team get a guy who could change the course of the franchise forever? We'll see on Thursday night. Here is a list of the top available offensive prospects by position in this year's draft.  

Quarterback

Top Prospect: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

Johnny Manziel. He's one of the most controversial figures in all of sports.  He is known for both his dynamic play on the field and living it up off the field.  Some look at Johnny and his style at Texas A&M and are hesitant to pull the trigger and take him because they view him as a high-risk player.  That is true, but there is also even higher reward.  

Manziel will live on as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play college football.  He will be remembered for his uncanny escapibility, his ability to make things happen, and his fierce competitive nature.  In his short career in College Station, TX, the man they call "Johnny Football" passed for 7,820 yards and 63 TDs. Manziel won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman and had what many believe was an even better season in 2013.  

Manziel has a powerful arm, excellent quickness, and great awareness in the pocket.  He can make all the NFL throws and has an accurate arm.  His main question mark thrown at him is his small frame, but that doesn't seem to phase Manziel or hurt his play on the field.  Manziel is truly box-office and a guy that you can build a team around to win a championship.  

Honorable Mention: Blake Bortles, UCF 


Runningback

Top Prospect: Jeremy Hill, LSU

Hill was a very exciting back in college.  In 2013, Jeremy Hill rushed for 1,401 yards and 16 TDs with a remarkable average of 6.9 yards per carry.  Hill is known for being an explosive and powerful back who is difficult to bring down.  Hill hits the hole quickly, has underrated breakaway speed, and has the ability to make people miss.  

Hill spent his career running around and through tacklers in the rugged SEC.  He is a back that is sure to have an impact on the next level.  I compare him to a guy like Marshawn Lynch.  He's a big back that is hard to stop.  Hill will be a very solid rusher that a team can depend on to fight for extra yardage.

Honorable Mention: Carlos Hyde, Ohio State 


Wide Receiver

Top Prospect: Sammy Watkins, Clemson

Watkins is a no-brainer.  He should be drafted in the top ten.  Watkins is one of the most dynamic receivers in this year's draft class.  He had an oustanding career at Clemson including hauling in over a hundred catches, registered 1,464 receiving yards, and reached the endzone 12 times. 

The 6-1, 211 lbs. draftee from Fort Myers, FL has all the skills to succeed in the NFL.  Watkins has great hands and is extremely swift.  He can take it the distance on any given play.  Watkins is the ultimate weapon and will make one NFL team extremely happy on Thursday night.  

Honorable Mention: Odell Beckham Jr, LSU 


Tight End

Top Prospect: Eric Ebron, North Carolina

Eric Ebron was certainly a major part of the North Carolina offense last season. He led his Tarheels squad in receiving with 943 yards and 6 scores.  Ebron is athletic and a big prospect.  He's 6-4, 245 lbs. and looks a little like a big wide receiver.  He has good speed for his large frame, runs crisp routes, and is a great safety net for a quarterback.  

Ebron is a guy that can be incorporated into any NFL offense and contribute in a similar way to guys like Jimmy Graham and Tony Gonzalez.  The main difference is that Ebron might be faster.  He's definitely a guy ready to come contribute on your team.  

Honorable Mention: Arthur Lynch, UGA


Offensive Line

Top OL Prospect: Greg Robinson, Auburn

Well, it's been one turnaround year on the Plains.  From a losing season and all-time low for the program,  to winning the SEC Title, Auburn has enjoyed much success.  One huge reason for their success is having one of the best offensive lines in the nation headlined by OT Greg Robinson.  The 6-5, 332 lbs. blocker from the state of Louisiana was one of the top offensive lineman in college football in 2013.  

He was a big reason (no pun intended) that Auburn had so much success in the running game last season.  Robinson is a tough run-blocker and imposes his will on defenders.  Robinson is also quick enough to hold defenders coming off the edge.  Offensive line is a very key position in the NFL and look for Robinson's name to be called in the first few minutes of the draft.  

Honorable Mentions: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M; C Marcus Martin, USC; OG Zach Martin, Notre Dame; OG Gabe Jackson, Miss State



For more news & updates throughout the sports world, follow me on Twitter: @legitjaydawg

4 Apr

UGA FB: Why J.J. Green's Switch to DB Is a Good Thing

There is only a little over a week left before Georgia's annual spring game.  One of the biggest offseason moves is J.J. Green's position change from RB to DB.  A notable reason for this transition is the great depth in the RB corps headlined by Heisman contender Todd Gurley, speedster Keith Marshall, hard-nosed, physical Sophomore Brendan Douglas, and two incoming blue chip prospects in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.  Stacked is an understatement.

Another glaring reason for this change is the struggle of the UGA secondary last season.  The Bulldogs ranked 67th in the nation in passing defense, allowing an average of 232.8 yards per game.  Georgia only had 6 interceptions on the year - one of the worst totals in the nation.  The secondary was truly the weakest link in the mediocre, inexperienced defense of 2013.  Also with the possible suspension of FS Tray Matthews and the dismissal of SS Josh Harvey-Clemons, the secondary is wide open.  

Fast forward to 2014.  Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham leaves for the defensive coaching job at Louisville.  Then Mark Richt and UGA made one of the biggest offseason headlines in hiring former FSU and BCS Championship-winning defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.  Coming into spring ball, Pruitt made known that every job was up for grabs, and he was going to have a fresh look at all the Bulldog defenders.  Pruitt believes in playing more athletic and quick defenders rather than merely big guys like the Georgia defense has seen in the last few years.  That's a good thing if you're J.J. Green.  

J.J. Green is a great athlete and one of the fastest players at Georgia.  He has a nose for the ball and should thrive at defensive back in Pruitt's new system.  Green looks more like a corner or safety than a RB.  After all, he played DB at Camden County High School two years ago.  

J.J. Green at DB in high school delivers a huge hit 


Green has already impressed coaches during the various spring scrimmages in the last month.  He registered a team high of 7 tackles including 1 sack at CB during the Dawgs' first spring scrimmage.  He was interviewed afterwards by the Athens Banner-Herald, and this is what he had to say.  


Georgia needs talented players in the secondary, especially while dealing with youth and suspensions.  Green has the athletic ability and the skills to contribute to the Bulldogs' secondary.  Look for J.J. Green to make a statement in the Georgia G-Day spring game and create momentum heading into the fall.  Under the coaching of Pruitt, the sky is the limit for what this guy can do.  

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