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Vanderbilt Head Coach Clark Lea

Click on the link to listen to Vanderbilt Head Coach Clark Lea interview from SEC Media Days 

Falcons have to lie in the bed they made with the Julio Jones debacle  

Falcons have to lie in the bed they made with the Julio Jones debacle  

Do you remember that proposed SEC nightmare receiving corps for the Atlanta Falcons in the upcoming 2021 NFL season? Well, you can officially take that thought, roll it into a ball and high-arch it into the nearest trash can like a John Petty Jr. 3-pointer. 

It’s over. 

During an impromptu appearance on FOX Sports’ Undisputed, via phone call from co-host Shannon Sharpe, the greatest receiver in Falcons franchise history, Julio Jones, finally broke his silence on the trade talk surrounding him. 

“I’m outta there,” said Jones, point blank. 

Those three words drove a stake through the hearts of Falcons fans all over the world. Seven Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pro nods and recognition on the 2010s All-Decade Team—the dirty bird that soared highest at his position will be flying elsewhere. 

And for what reason?

The thought process behind trading Jones would have made sense if the Falcons drafted Justin Fields or Mac Jones with the fourth overall pick, but instead of a quarterback, they added another weapon for Matt Ryan with all-world tight end Kyle Pitts. 

Ryan’s time in Atlanta is souring like last month’s milk, but there was hope that a star-studded receiving corps featuring Jones, Pitts and Calvin Ridley could rekindle the championship magic that had the team in Super Bowl contention four years ago. One last run before the axe dropped on the Ryan and Falcons marriage made all of the sense in the world before hitting the reboot button. 

Well, it obviously didn’t make any sense to the Falcons, who have openly floated their legendary receiver on the trade block. 

Maybe they’re drinking the 2017 Kool-Aid and still believe Ryan can take them to the Promised Land. Perhaps newly-hired general manager Terry Fontenot has some genius master plan that has yet to be revealed. Or, maybe the Falcons are stillpunch-drunk from blowing a 25-point lead at Super Bowl LI. 

Jones, 32, isn’t getting any younger, but it’s ludicrous to act as if he’s a rapidly declining player. He made the Pro Bowl in 2019, and if not for an injury-plagued season, he might have made it again in 2020. Despite playing in only nine games, he still finished the year with 771 receiving yards and three touchdowns. 

So Atlanta is essentially subtracting one great player and adding another, assuming Pitts even lives up to his draft stock. Another season of mediocrity and disappointment on tap for the 2021 Falcons—check.

Running Jones out of town makes even less sense when considering the Falcons share the same division with a real-life Benjamin Button in quarterback Tom Brady and the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Drew Brees might have rode off into the sunset for the New Orleans Saints, but old man Tom is still throwing Hall of Fame balls to arguably the most loaded offense in NFL history. 

Make it make sense, Atlanta. 

It’s important to note that NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport is reporting that Jones requested to be traded a few months ago. But even if that was the case, why would the Falcons add another tight end when they have so many other areas on the field to address? If anything, you’d think Pitts would serve as a trump card for them to potentially convince Jones to stay.  

There’s no putting the toothpaste back into the tube with this mess. 

Jones made one thing clear in his public phone conversation with Sharpe: He wants to go to a place where he can compete for a championship. That obviously wasn’t the case with him over the last few years in Atlanta. 

And it certainly won’t be the case when he’s gone. 

Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall Of Fame Induction Rescheduled

                 

Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall Of Fame Induction Rescheduled

 

Class of 2020 To Be Enshrined In September


 

HUNTSVILLE (April 21, 2021) – The Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame induction banquet, canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic, has been re-scheduled for Monday, September 13, 2021 at the North Hall of the Von Braun Center.

 

The Class of 2020, which had been previously announced, will be enshrined. There will not be a new class of 2021 selected.

 

“We’re disappointed for our inductees that they weren’t able to be honored last year, but we’re glad we can gather in September and give them the recognition they deserve,” said Hall of Fame chairman Vann Pettaway. “Meanwhile, our board will soon begin the process of sifting through nominations and selecting our Class of 2022.”

 

Eleven new members of the Hall of Fame and one Special Achievement Award recipient will be officially inducted during the Hall of Fame's 28th induction ceremony in September. 

 

The class will include, in alphabetical order: former Huntsville High and Davidson College football player Mickey Dillon; ex-Lee High and Auburn baseball player Dwayne Friend; long-time swimming coach Michael Gunner; Arab High and Athens State basketball player and long-time coach Ron King; ex-Alabama A&M soccer star and high school coach Mike Latty; former Butler High and North Alabama basketball standout Tracy McCall-Gholston; ex-Johnson High and Mississippi State quarterback Wayne Madkin; eight-time AHSAA girls high school state championship coach Tim Miller; three-sports letter winner at Hazel Green and star volleyball player at Alabama A&M Robbin Pruitt; two-time All-City basketball player at Butler and captain of 1998-99 Auburn team Bryant Smith; and former Alabama A&M track standout Wayne Watson.

 

The Special Achievement winner is T. K. Bridges, a legend in the development of youth sports, especially minority youngsters, in Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley.

 

Information on nominating an individual for induction may be found at hmcahof.com. Inductees must be at least 40 years old at the time of the induction, must be a current or former resident of Madison County for five continuous years or must be a resident of Madison County for 10 continuous years if their athletic achievements were accomplished elsewhere.

 

For more information, contact Hall of Fame board members John Pruett (pruettjb@aol.com) or Mark McCarter (markfmccarter@gmail.com) and 256-508-1621.

 

Kyle Pitts, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley would create an SEC nightmare in Atlanta

Kyle Pitts, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley would create an SEC nightmare in Atlanta

The Atlanta Falcons could create a scarier nightmare than the one on Elm Street if they use the No. 7 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft to select Kyle Pitts. A pairing of the University of Florida tight end with former University of Alabama standout receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley would conjure up the sort of nightmares that would make Freddy Krueger look like a childhood bedtime story.

One, two, the SEC’s coming for you. 

The quarterback craze in this year’s draft lays it out perfectly for the Falcons to add another transcendent playmaker to an offense that clearly underachieved last season. Tight ends rarely make an impact at the professional level in their rookie year, but Pitts is the sort of unicorn that could turn that statement on its head. 

You want to match him up with a defensive back? Good luck finding someone physically gifted enough to win a jump-ball contest against the 6-foot-6, 245-pound giant. You want to try a linebacker? Okay, let’s see if you can find one with the speed and athleticism to keep up with one of the greatest science projects we’ve seen at the tight end position in years. 

The Falcons could certainly reach for one of the five quarterbacks expected to be taken in the first round of the draft, but it would make little sense to pass on a generational talent like Pitts when the window is still open to win now. They still have Matt Ryan under contract, even though he’s beginning to sour on some like last month’s milk. That need for change is strong for a team that hasn’t had a winning record in the last three seasons. 

But Dan Quinn is out as head coach, and Drew Brees is finally riding off into the sunset and leaving the New Orleans Saints to begin their rebuild with Taysom Hill at quarterback. Yes, the real-life Benjamin Button, Tom Brady, is still throwing golden footballs with his 43-year-old arm in Tampa Bay, but the end has to come at some point—right?

Jones, 32, isn’t getting any younger, and the wear and tear on his body is becoming more apparent. He was banged up for most of the 2020 season and turned in only 51 receptions for 771 yards and three touchdowns—a pedestrian year for a future Hall of Famer. Ridley is already taking off as the new No. 1 option at receiver for the Falcons. 

Pitts would fit right in as another potential elite option to aid Ridley and take even more pressure off Jones. Oh, and let’s not forget about Hayden Hurst. The SEC roots run even deeper with the former South Carolina Gamecock coming off a career year. 

Pairing him with Pitts could give the Falcons one of the best tight end tandems in football. 

Granted, the Falcons still have to hope legendary defensive coordinator Dean Pees can MacGyver the broken defense back into working order, and they’ll also have to address the ugly running back situation at some point in the draft. 

But in a league where guys like Darren Waller, Travis Kelce and George Kittle are dominating, the Falcons have a real shot at adding a foundational piece that changes the way people view their offense. Pitts, Jones and Ridley—it could be one of the most explosive offenses in franchise history.

That dirty bird the world assumed was roadkill could suddenly start flying again. 

Top Korn Ferry Tour players expected to visit Huntsville

Top Korn Ferry Tour players expected to be at 2021 Huntsville Championship

With the tournament quickly approaching, fans can expect to see these top professional golfers from the Korn Ferry Tour at the 2021 Huntsville Championship

HUNTSVILLE, ALA. – The inaugural Huntsville Championship is less than two weeks from players teeing off in the first round, and the field will feature many of the Korn Ferry Tour’s top players. Fans can expect to see the following talent vying for the championships at The Ledges, April 29 - May 2, 2021:

  • Taylor Pendrith: Pendrith is a Canadian-born golfer, and he has the fourth-best driver pinpoint on the Korn Ferry Tour. He will be looking to claim his first Korn Ferry Tour victory at this year’s event. 

  • Davis Riley: A University of Alabama alum, Riley will return to the state of Alabama during this year’s tournament. Riley has two previous Korn Ferry Tour wins and will look to claim his third at The Ledges. 

  • Lee Hodges: An Ardmore native, Hodges will return to his home turf for the Huntsville Championship. Hodges earned his first career Korn Ferry Tour title at 11-under 273 at the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz.

  • Brandon Wu: Wu is the defending Korn Ferry Tour Champion heading into tournament weekend. This season, Wu held the 36-hole lead at the Puerto Rico Open before finishing T7, marking his first career top-10 finish on the PGA TOUR in his seventh professional start.

  • Greyson Sigg: Sigg is a native of Georgia. Sigg is sixth on the Korn Ferry Tour with 74 percent of greens hit in regulation. Sigg joined the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020. 

  • Jared Wolfe: Wolfe is looking to earn his third Korn Ferry Tour victory at The Ledges. He has secured five top-ten finishes in his career and turned pro in 2010. 

  • Stephan Jäger: Jäger was recently named the winner of the Korn Ferry Tour’s Emerald Coast Classic in Sandestin. This German golfer is looking to remain hot during the Huntsville Championship, fresh off his recent victory. 

  • Chad Ramey: This former Mississippi State alum has eight top-ten finishes and turned pro in 2014. His best result from the 2020 season was a tie for second at the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz. 

  • Roberto Diaz: Diaz recently won the Chichimata Louisiana Open and is looking to make history by becoming the first two-time winner of the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour. 

  • Max McGreevy: McGreevy has recently secured two top-three finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour. An Oklahoma native, McGreevy has one Korn Ferry Tour victory under his belt and finished first in the 2020 Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr. Pepper. 

  • Adam Svensson: Svensson is coming off a thrilling win at the Club Car Championship. This Canadian-born golfer has five top-ten finishes and a scoring average of 69.44 on the Korn Ferry Tour. 

  • David Lipskey: Lipskey is currently ranked eighth in the Korn Ferry Tour. He tied for first in the Emerald Coast Classic along with another top-ten golfer, Stephan Jäger. In 2019, Lipskey was tied for 71 at the PGA Championships. 

These top players will all be in the hunt for the trophy at this year’s Huntsville Championship. A variety of ticket types are available for purchase. Fans can purchase a good-any-day grounds admission ticket starting at $10, or weekly passes are available for fans who wish to experience the entire tournament weekend. Upgraded hospitality options are available as well. 

For additional questions or to schedule an interview with Huntsville Championship Tournament Director Penn Garvich, please reach out to Katie Stotts, media coordinator for Huntsville Championship, at stotts@knighteady.com

Tickets are available on the Huntsville Championship website, huntsvillechampionship.com

ABOUT HUNTSVILLE CHAMPIONSHIP

The Huntsville Championship is a professional golf tournament on the Korn Ferry Tour. The first edition of the Huntsville Championship will take place the week of April 26 - May 2, 2021, at The Ledges in Huntsville, Alabama. A five-year partnership is in place through 2024. The host course, The Ledges, opened in 2000 as an award-winning design by Hurdzan/Fry GCD, Inc., with designer Mike Hurdzan earning the “Designer of the Year” award by Golf Magazine in 2003 for his work on the course. The tournament is owned and operated by Birmingham-based sports marketing and event management firm Knight Eady. 

 

How Mac Jones' draft stock skyrocketed overnight

How Mac Jones’ draft stock skyrocketed overnight

Mac Jones scaled to the mountaintop in his first year as a full-fledged starting quarterback at the University of Alabama, only to devolve into one of the biggest conundrums heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. 

It’s as if the world caught amnesia and forgot he threw for 4,500 passing yards, 41 touchdowns and only four interceptions in 2020. 

‘Tis the season for coaches, scouts and armchair experts to overanalyze and still get it wrong. 

Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of the NFL Draft, where there have been more swings and misses at the quarterback position than a batter on the wrong side of a Nolan Ryan fastball. A few weeks ago, Jones was pegged as the fourth or possibly even fifth-best option on the board. 

And then San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan made the blockbuster trade to acquire the No. 3 overall pick from the Miami Dolphins. That one move shook away the cobwebs for those that had hastily buried Jones. 

This is the same quarterback that didn’t lose a game last season. It’s the guy that helped lead Alabama to the Promised Land and capture the school’s 18th National Championship. It’s the same player coming off a year where he broke the single-season record for completion percentage. 

Imagine burying that guy and being wrong. 

Enter Shanahan. The hot-shot 41-year-old coach that led the 49ers to the Super Bowl over a year ago is seriously considering making a move for Jones with the third overall pick. He dumped a slew of assets to move up the draft board and traveled all the way to Alabama to attend a workout in person on Tuesday. Can it get any more obvious?

Of course, that doesn’t guarantee Jones as the option for the 49ers. Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance are also intriguing choices in their own right. In an era enamored with more athletic quarterbacks, a throwback pocket passer like Jones could easily get left in the rearview for flashier options.  

But Shanahan has always been a man that knows what he likes. It’s why the 49ers have constantly been linked to guys like Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins. Shanahan doesn’t need a savior as much as he needs someone efficient enough to run his offense. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is evidence enough that boring still works in the NFL. No, he isn’t scrambling around the field and throwing no-look passes across his body. He doesn’t need to when his pocket awareness and footwork is off the charts. His brain processes the information at the line of scrimmage, and he gets the ball out fast and accurately. Sure, there are far more gifted athletes than Brady on the football field. 

Guess how many of them have won seven Super Bowls. 

There’s a reason why Jones is drawing similar comparisons, and there’s also a reason why Shanahan felt the need to unload a bevy of assets this far out from the draft. He isn’t throwing away three first-round picks and a third-round compensatory pick for a roll of the dice. 

Jones, Fields or Lance—deep down, Shanahan knew exactly what he wanted when he made that deal. And to think, we’re less than four weeks away from the rest of the world knowing as well. 

Woody Anderson Ford Poll Question

Will the expansion of the College Football playoffs create more parity in the game?
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