published Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

5 at 10: Vols linebackers, NFL draft prep and college football concerns

Morning folks and don't forget about Friday's mailbag. Let's get to it.

Here we go...



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    Vols linebacker Nigel Mitchell-Thornton, No. 37, shouts encouragement to his teammates from the sideline. Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press

UT spring fling — linebackers

Injuries have landed at linebacker for the University of Tennessee football team. Hard.

So much so that the No. 1s at this moment are a career back-up (Nigel Mitchell-Thornton), a walk-on (Shane Reviez) and a converted running back (Daryl Vereen). Step away from the ledge Johnny Vols Fan, this week ends with the third Saturday in April, not the third Saturday in October.

There is time to find answers — be it playing five DBs, others getting healthy and/or some new faces in August — but the current state of the Vols' linebacking corps is tough to answer.

It figures to be more athletic in the coming years, which is a good thing.

It figures to add some star power in August with freshman A.J. Johnson's arrival — a big-time recruit from all indications.

It figures to be aggressive, a hallmark of new LB coach Peter Sirmon's over-achieveing NFL career.

And if there's one good thing to all the injuries this spring — here is our UT ace Patrick Brown's RECAP of the situation in today's TFP, available around the greater Chattanooga area — this fall UT will have more depth at linebacker just by having more guys work with the starters in the spring.



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    In this Jan. 3, 2007 file photo, Becky Foreman, left, and Julie Jenkins, both of New Orleans, hold their signs showing their sentiments about former LSU coach Nick Saban during the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game between LSU and Notre Dame at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Andrew J. Cohoon, File)

College football concerns

Here's a question for you, and we'll make it multiple choice to make it easier: Would you rather your college football team...

a) Win the conference title

b) Win the rivals/scout/whatever recruiting national championship

c) Have your rival busted by the NCAA

Here's hoping you instantly picked A, but that this is even a question makes the 5-at-10 somewhat sad about the state of college football. Friend of the show Quake was talking a little bit about this on SportTalk last night, and let's go "O' Brother Where Art Thou" for the rest of this rant:

The current state of fandom leaves college football "in a tight spot."

The star players are "relatively unaffiliated," (religiously speaking, that is) and when the penalties eventually come down, they done R-U-N-N-O-F-T to the NFL.

Plus, the rapid rate of accusation and information leaves the NCAA as a geographic oddity (two weeks from everywhere).

The rules have become so intricate — a by-product of all the coaches ("He's a suitor"), programs, boosters ("Friend, you're folding money's come unstoved"), etc. looking for loopholes — that sneezing without saying bless you may/may not be a secondary violation.

And with the "talk-smack" nature of today's college football fan — especially 'round these parts — fans naturally want to win, but they want to avoid hearing their rivals talk junk with as much vigor. So in today's SEC, where winning the league title has meant winning the national title for the last half decade, that means the only way to knock at least one SEC rival from their pedestal — and in turn to stop the crowing — is hoping the NCAA comes to town.

And let's face it, if you're hoping the NCAA is investigating someone, well, you better not hope too much. Or remember as Delmer said, "Yeah, look at me," the NCAA will look at everybody eventually. They just start near the top, because that's where the most interest is.



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    In this image made with a slow shutter, Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson throws a pitch in the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Wednesday, March 16, 2011 in Kissimmee, Fla. Atlanta won 4-3. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Braves baseball at its best

The game was quick — 2-and-1/2 hours is flying by today's standards — the pitching was good and the offense scored more than two runs. That, ladies and gentlemen, is Atlanta Braves baseball at its best.

Tommy Hanson was strong. He hit his spots and threw three pitches — fastball, slider, change — for strikes. There was a point early that informed the 5-at-10 that Hanson was on his A-game. In the second inning, Hanson allowed a leadoff double to Mike Stanton and fell behind Gabby Sanchez 2-1. He dropped a perfect breaking ball in for a strike — a pitch that Sanchez would never be looking for, and would not have been able to hit if he had been looking for it. At that point the over/under number of runs needed for Hanson became two.

And Holy Screaming Baseball on the Jumbotron at Old Fulton County Stadium, when Jason Heyward connects, it's a scary proposition for a first baseman.

Dude can crush.

Couple of interesting stats: Every Braves regular got a hit (and, yes, Nate McLouth started) and it was the smallest announced crowd in Turner Field history at 13,856.

Tonight, two of the NL's best pitchers that don't play for the Phillies go at it when Tim Hudson faces Josh Johnson.



Feeling the draft

The 5-at-10 loves the NFL. You know this.

As of this morning, we are officially two weeks and a day away from the first day of the NFL draft. Color us excited.

The questions swirling about this draft are strong and forceful.

Who will the Panthers take? Who should the Panthers take? How will the Raiders make us scratch our heads and go, 'Do what?' This is a glorious time.

We've only got a little more than two weeks, which means we must tackle the top 10 questions heading into this draft. Here's you challenge: What are the biggest questions heading into the draft.

We'll start with, "Who is the most sure-fire first-round stud?"

Von Miller, the Texas A&M linebacker/defensive end, has made a strong push since the season ended — dude is a serious workout monster — but there's little doubt in the 5-at-10's view that LSU corner Patrick Peterson is the biggest lock in this draft. And despite Miller's best efforts, it's not that close.

Peterson is 6-foot-2 and 219 pounds and has a low 4.3-speed in the 40. By comparison, Eric Berry, who was the No. 5 pick last year and had a Pro Bowl rookie season with the Chiefs, entered the draft at 5-11 and 200 pounds with somewhere around a 4.4 time in the 40. And remember, Berry had the glorious combo of being a safety with corner speed; Peterson is a corner with safety size, which may be even more impressive. And more rare/valuable. Plus, Peterson is an elite kick returner.

A lot of folks say you have to spend the No. 1 overall pick on a tackle (offensive or defensive) or defensive end or a quarterback, but here's an interesting stat for you: There are 32 NFL teams (No, SteelerFan, that's not the interesting stat), so that means there are 64 starting NFL cornerbacks (Again, not the interesting stat — wait for it). Of those 64 starting corners, 44 were either first- or second-round picks. Yep, that's right around 70 percent.

Again, this is not saying Peterson will go No. 1, but when the draft gets reviewed in five years, here's saying there will be a lot of folks saying Peterson should have gone No. 1.



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    Georgia head coach Mark Richt looks on from the sidelines during the fourth quarter of the football game against LSU in Athens, Ga., Saturday, Oct. 3. LSU won 20-13. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

This and that

— The University of Georgia coaches must address the hole on the offensive line left by Trinton Sturdivant's injury. The good news is they have to be used to it by now. Sturdivant's third ACL tear leaves an opening at tackle, and our UGA ace David Paschall breaks down the contenders to fill that job HERE. Here's an interesting part of Paschall's story: "Georgia first-year line coach Will Friend said [A.J.]Harmon and Justin Anderson rotated at first-team right tackle Tuesday opposite Glenn, who seems set as the left-side starter." Harmon has played in all of seven games [each was a blowout] and Anderson has spent time as a reserve on the offensive and defensive lines.

— Every NBA team is in action tonight — a first since the late 1950s — as the league concludes its regular season. We'll examine the playoffs more in the days ahead when we know the matchups for sure, but the 5-at-10 saw some of the Bulls-Knicks last night. Holy Buckets, Derrick Rose is playing ball.

— The Tennessee Titans have few playmakers other than Chris Johnson. Now one of the other top offensive threats is being offensive again. From a Foxsports report: "Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt faces three charges stemming from a police chase in his hometown of Bayonne, N.J., according to reports.Britt was charged with eluding an officer, lying to an officer hindering apprehension, and obstructing government function. Police say the incident occurred Tuesday afternoon when Britt was caught driving 71 mph in a 50 mph zone. When an officer attempted to pull the vehicle over, Britt accelerated and wove through traffic before exiting, the police report said. Britt and his passenger, Jerel Lord, were seen walking away from the parked vehicle on a local street and were questioned by police. Lord, who police say attempted to run before being apprehended, also faces three charges including one of marijuana possession. Britt admitted ownership of the Porsche but denied having been behind the wheel. The two men were released on summons and will have a hearing, though no date has been set. The three-year veteran out of Rutgers caught nine touchdowns and amassed 775 receiving yards for the Titans in 2010 despite missing four games due to injury. Britt has had prior run-ins with the law. He was arrested in January 2010 for failure to pay for three outstanding traffic warrants. Britt also was questioned about his involvement in a Nashville bar fight in October." Looks like we can go ahead an add wide receiver to the Titans draft needs, too. That's it, they need to draft either Julio Jones or Nick Fairley, whichever one is there, and play to lose 15 games next year, refund half the season-ticket prices, and go after Andrew Luck. Anybody got a better plan?

Until tomorrow.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
bigbearzzz said...

I BELIEVE SOMEBODY HAS TOLD MARK RICHT AND COMPANY "DO...NOT....SEEK....THE....TREASURE!!" AND BEING THE DAPPER DAN MAN THAT I AM, I AM GOING TO WAIT IT OUT AND NOT R-U-N-N-O-F-T JUST BECAUSE WE LOST A KEY SPOT ON OUR OFFENSIVE LINE, WHICH IN MY OPINION IS STARTIN TO TURN A LIL...SLAUGHTERED THAT HORSE TWO WEEKS AGO.....HOWS MY HAIR?

April 13, 2011 at 10:18 a.m.
patrickd said...

I'll stick with the theme. Jim Tressel, as the pomade wearing, gab-gifted Ulysses Everett McGill. http://bit.ly/LNpjQ

April 13, 2011 at 10:19 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

The goal for the Panthers would be to trade down!!! Try to get a 2 for 1 for that #1 overall pick...Jake Locker would be a good fit or maybe even Andy Dalton... picking a D-End or D Lineman as your overall #1 is bad news bears when you have some many question marks in your offense that your team is starting to look like a DC Comic Character...Anybody who has a Franchise Quarterback and doesnt go for Peterson is well likely to pick JaMarcus Russell as a #1 pick... and hey Panthers...you might have a chance at signing a former Texas Longhorn that could beat out Casey's brother for the top spot on the depth chart in one maybe 2 practices

April 13, 2011 at 10:41 a.m.
bigbearzzz said...

And let me add this, if you would so allow me into the Wollworth's one more time to make my point, that i know a lot of teams first games arent all that and stuff....but i have to say that i havent seen a first game of the season mean as much as the GA/Boise St. game is going to mean this year! What a way to start the year! That's enough to even make sad depressed Baby Face George Nelson get excited a lil!

April 13, 2011 at 11:41 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

UGA vs Bosie St...that will be straight nasty Oso... I am not sure why they decided to plan this..oh wait we are talking about College Football..so Money is the reason...but I think it will be good for both programs and i am betting Boise St blisters UGA in the 2nd half...what will the Bulldogs do in the first half...thats the question for me at this point...

April 13, 2011 at 11:48 a.m.
bigbearzzz said...

LETS JUST SAY I AM MORE THAN SLIGHTLY WORRIED ABOUT THIS GAME....IT COULD SET THE TONE FOR A VERY, VERY, VERY LONG YEAR...

April 13, 2011 at 12:02 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

It sure could, and I am die-hard SEC fan..but if there is one team that I would like to avoid...its Boise St. Just because they can make you look stupid...just ask Oklahoma !

What happened to Bynum last night...that might just be disasterous for the Lakers...Lamar Odom better put on his Channing Tatum costume and step up...I think Bynum is a liability...I wish Kupcheck would have made a deal to him down the road somewhere...

April 13, 2011 at 12:09 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Gang, love where we're headed today. "Is you is, or is you ain't, my constituency?” The entire 5-at-10 clan loves "O' Brother" — fine feature film, and we're pleased you folks agree. Well done, all around.

Oso —

Asked Paschall, and he concurred with your assessment that losing Sturdivant is a devilishly big blow. (Well, there are all manner of lesser imps and demons, Pete, but the great Satan hisself is red and scaly with a bifurcated tail, and he carries a hay fork.) As for the UGA-Boise State, it's a big-time opening act (that will include two of the better quarterbacks in college football next year), but it may not even be the biggest game of the day — or even the time slot. UGA-BSU will kick at 8 p.m., same time as Oregon-LSU in what figures to be a knockdown drag-out. College football has made some strides with that opening weekend having some big-time games and not leaving us somewhat unsatisfied ("No thank you, Delmar. One third of a gopher would only arouse my appetite without bedding it down."). That opener is scary, though, if for no other reason than the tone a loss would set for UGA. Could be a big year or a bad year for Richt (That's not the issue Delmar. Even if that did put you square with the Lord, the State of Mississippi's a little more hard-nosed.)

PDavi —

Loved the Tressel comparison, and remember "Pete, it's a fool that looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart."

EC —

No doubt the Panthers should trade down. Fast. Only problem is with whom — the lockout and uncertainty of the future rookie pay scale leaves the value of the No. 1 pick up in the air. If they could find someone that would deal a No. 1 and No. 2 for the pick (or even a No. 1 next year) you do it now. But who knows with all the labor unrest if anyone will think that big-time. ("Well, it didn't look like a two-horse town, but try finding a decent hair jelly.")

There is no doubt the Panthers are in a tight spot with more than a few obstacles in front of them and needs to address.

Bynum needs to be healthy for two reasons: One, he's a nice and needed piece for this Lakers; two a nice playoff run for Bynum and he becomes the key piece in the Lakers offer to the Magic for D-Howard.

We're MASS communicating!

— 5-at-10

April 13, 2011 at 12:18 p.m.
chas9 said...

Johnny Volfan slicks back his mullet with a little Dapper Dan, stuffs a chaw of Redman in his cheek, considers Mike Hamilton's recent hires, and exclaims: "Woo! Hot Damn, son. I believe you did sell your soul to the devil."

April 13, 2011 at 12:48 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

I wish I could get in on some of this Oh Brother talk but Ive never seen the movie...go ahead point your fingers at me and judge...its ok...I will fix this in the near future... But can I get a shout out to Alex Gonzalez who is showing some serious range and big time leather?!?! if he keeps this up we could have a gold glove SS in Atlanta... and Heyward..what a man beast... oh and by the way there is a huge UFC coming up at on the 23rd of April...I cant wait !!! Mr. 5@10 can you ask Mr. Sports Editor..why the TFP..available here in Chattanooga..doesnt cover MMA...?? Im not looking for front page stuff...but it could find a home under the Senior Bowling league at the local Holiday Bowl..maybe? no? I would just like to know... Thanks!!

April 13, 2011 at 1:17 p.m.
chas9 said...

Bruce Almighty invites a mess of recruits to his house for BBQ possum. After the meal, he squeals, "Wooooooo-wee. Boy, that was some miiiighty fine vittles. I'll tell you what, you come on in here and sign these papers here and I'm a gonna give you ten dollars a piece." Scotty says, "How's that a plan? How we gonna get a car?" Bruce says, "I figure these tickets'll fetch us enough cash for a good used auto-voiture, and a little left over besides." Toby says, "Uh, okay sir. But Murt and Aloysius will have to sign Xes as only four of us can write." Some time passes. New Coach Martin looks over the tattered remnants of his team and breaks into a chorus of "I've seen trouble all my days."

April 13, 2011 at 1:22 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I'm wondering if the 5@10, back in his playing days, would have attempted what Josh Hamilton tried yesterday on a foul pop up. I'm thinking ... yes. I grew up a big boxing fan and if that sport still had any shred of respectability or honesty left, we wouldn't be talking about MMA. Mayweather-Pacquaio has to happen. It has to. The heavyweight division has also been the tone setter for boxing but the reigning champ is Vlady Klitschko. He’s as appealing as week-old borscht. If it wasn’t for the cheerleader on his arm, who’d even care about him (she kinda easy on eyes, though). I once sat in a bar as an MMA pay per view was about to come on and as I looked through the crowd gathered to watch, the only thing MMA stood for at that moment was mostly meth addicts. Perhaps the single ugliest collection of people I’ve seen outside of Alabama. Then again, I was in Warner Robins (Do. Not. Ask.) I have friends who are MMA fans but I just can’t get into it.

April 13, 2011 at 1:59 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Mayweather vs Manny would be the biggest boxing match in recent memory by about 1000...but Mayweather is a scared little boy... MMA is an amazing sport because their athlelets are the elite of the elite as far as condition goes...you dont hear about guys doing Tip drills or taking ground balls to get an edge on the competition. But you do hear about ppl hitting bags working on kicks and Jiu Jitsu to become better athletes in their repective sports... example..Adam Dunn..he started MMA training in his off-season and he is swinging the bat better than ever...still cant play D but hey no one is perfect!

April 13, 2011 at 2:10 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

I just took the restrictor plates off the Red Dragon...but shh..its not exactly street legal...

April 13, 2011 at 2:40 p.m.
wcole777 said...

Mark Richt: "Damn, we're in a tight spot! My hair!"

Some other favorites as long as we're talking about it:

"Well, Pete and Delmer here just got saved and being that you sold your soul to the devil, I suppose I'm the only one otherwise unaffiliated."

"Oh George, not the livestock."

"Them sireens turned Pete into a ha-ha-ha-horny toad!"

Everett: "Delmar, I don't think that toad is Pete." Delmar: "Of course it's Pete, look at him."

No doubt one of the best films ever produced.

April 13, 2011 at 3:16 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Chas9 —

We must have struck a chord with the "O' Brother" theme. Nice work all the way around. (A lot of UT hoops fans thought Bruce was "Bona fide" — alas.)

EC —

If the Braves' A-Gon (Wonder who started that whole Initial-Syllable-nickname thing?) is going to play shortstop like this, he can hit .145 and be useful. We'll look into this MMA thing — can't make any promises, but we'll talk to some of the muckety-mucks in the Sports Dept. And if you have the restrictor plates off the Red Dragon, maybe you can let Dale Jr. borrow it this weekend and he could... oh nevermind.

BIspy —

Let's make sure Oso adds, "What killed boxing?" to our summer list of topics. And yes, Manny-Floyd would be big-time. Big-time big-time.
Absolutely we would have made a similar effort to Hamilton's. That's just the way it goes — you start playing not to get hurt and you've stopped playing.

P.S. The 5-at-10 officially views Warner Robins in the same eyes as anything after 4 a.m. — not much good happens around those two.

WC7s —

Those are some good ones from a great one, there is no doubt.

— 5-at-10

April 13, 2011 at 3:33 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

I have to say I appreciate it...and you just let me know if I can help..after all I took 10th grade english...twice!!!

The only Way Dale Jr wins this weekend...is if he slips into the #3 Wrangler or the #2 AC Delco...that #88 isnt bringing him the kind of karma he expected

and I dont know who started it...but it should have stopped at A-Rod...but it will only get worse from here on out

April 13, 2011 at 3:41 p.m.
kburgess1013 said...

Let me be clear. The Panthers (or the Panties as my mom calls them) need to take the worst players ever. I'm sad they didn't keep John Fox. He made terrible decisions and I loved every second of it.

April 13, 2011 at 11:02 p.m.
kburgess1013 said...

And WC Triple 7's- Mark Richt is a Dapper Dan Man.

April 13, 2011 at 11:04 p.m.
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