The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 17, 2001 · Page 24
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 24

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, April 17, 2001
Page 24
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D4 TUESDAY, APRIL 17, 2001 SPORTS THE SALINA JOURNAL T COLLEGE FOOTBALL AP file photo MoinB than thr«« months after sung«iin!f cin his right shoulder, Nebraska qiuarterback Er!c Crouch is dose to resume throwing. Crouch on track to throw Nebraska quarterback to begin throwing at the end of the month By DOUG ALDEN The Associated Press LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch is a team player, but he's had enough of clipboard duty. More than three months after his right shoulder was repaired by surgery. Crouch is almost ready to resume throwing. "My shoulder right now feels like it's ready to throw but I've got to listen to the doctors' orders and wait a couple more weeks," Crouch said. The doctors are telling Crouch to wait until the end of the month before he tries throwing again and Crouch is listening to them. He had surgery to clean out the same shoulder last winter after his sophomore season and admits he rushed his comeback by starting to throw at the end of March. "A good way to put it is I wasn't very patient," Crouch said. "I think I've had to learn a lot of patience this year" Crouch's surgery this year was more extensive, repairing a cartilage tear that hampered his throwing last fall as the Huskers went 10-2. Crouch spent Nebraska's spring practice season lifting weights — with his lower body — and watching backup Jammal Lord run the Huskers' No. 1 offense. Lord, who will be a sophomore in the fall, has made good progress but the starting job is still Crouch's. Crouch said it's been tough to watch from the sideline, as he did during Saturday's spring game when he charted plays, but he isn't going to come back this year until he gets the medical green light. "I've been through it once so it gives me a little better perspective, knowing what my body can do and the timeframe that it takes," he said. Crouch began throwing again last year on March 21. He wouldn't admit it during the season, but later said the shoulder was bothering him as his passing percentage dropped from 52 percent as a sophomore to 48 percent in 2000. He said this spring's rehabilitation will start with weights and some light throwing to get his motion back. He will take his time. "Last year 1 remember coming in right away and trying to do as much as I could. I think that put me at a disadvantage," he said. Crouch will also continue to work out as a sprinter with the Husker track team, although he concentrated on football during the four-week spring season. "I feel like I've got to go out and at least do something," he said. He also doesn't expect to take long to catch up with anything he missed during the spring. "It's my fifth year now and I've been doing it for quite a while so a lot of those things are second nature to me," he said. "It's just a matter of getting all the rust out when I get back out on the field." NFL DRAFT Draft rich in defensive linemen By LEE RASIZER Scripps Howard News Service And the meat shall inherit the earth. Or at least the first-round of the NFL draft. Never before has the league seen what figures to be the draft-day influx of talented defensive tackles — all 300-pound-plus slabs of beef — that it will see in the first round of its April stock show. "There's a legitimate 10 prospects out there that are going to play at defensive tackle, and we could have as many as DEFENSIVE LINE One in a series five go in the first round. So it's a great group," said Frank Coyle, publisher of the Draft Insiders Digest. "And just about everybody needs one." Check the history books and the facts show there's never in Round One been more than four selected at the position, something that occurred three consecutive years from 1975-77 and in 1994. This year, the first-round run likely starts with Florida's Gerard Warren in the top few picks, perhaps as high as No. 2 to the Arizona Cardinals. Two collegiate tandems — Georgia's Richard Seymour and Marcus Stroud and Texas' Shaun Rogers and Casey Hampton — and Miami's Damione Lewis also could hear their names called on Saturday The timing is impeccable. In a league full of copycats seeking the secrets to others' success, Baltimore defensive tackles Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams figure to be the standard-bearers clubs attempt to clone. Those two built the wall last season that allowed middle linebacker Ray Lewis to come down on opposing ball-carriers like a ton of bricks. Younger, larger and, in some cases, more athletic options to the Ravens' duo are available for the taking high in the draft. "The NFL is turning back to more running in their offenses, and the running defenses aren't ready for it. They've been running blitz packages forever," said Jerry Jones, publisher of the draft guide The Drugstore List, now in its 24th year "And so a lot of teams will be very happy to see inside run defenders." Teams are ecstatic at the depth, too, because many franchises liberally rotate their tackles and need more players than ever to fill that important position. And as Brian DeLucia, a pro and college personnel evaluator for Fox Sports, pointed out, the ranks of the dominating tackles has thinned significantly in the last couple years, creating a bigger need to replenish AP file photo Missouri defensive end Justin Smith, shown here sacl<:ing Texas quarter- bade Major Applewhite last season, is among a solid corps of defensive linemen who will likely be drafted in the first round Saturday. the top tier Usually it's defensive ends that are the more high picks because of their impact as pass-rushers. This year, however, most of the prospects at end are considered largely one-dimensional players — outside of perhaps Missouri's Justin Smith, who's a top-five projection. Edge rushers like California's Andre Carter and Florida State's Jamal Reynolds, whose run-defending abilities are questioned in some circles, still are likely to be top-20 selections because of the need to disrupt passing offenses. "The problem at that position is that, outside of Justin Smith at the top, they're all small," Coyle said. "And a lot of them don't look like they're going to get any bigger." Defensive tackle appears the safer bet, though history just may unearth some shaky first-rounders there, too. Thin positions like quarterback and linebacker may push some marginal first-round talent higher than might otherwise be expected in past years. Yet overall the talent is lauded. Many of the premier players there not only should occupy space but can run and move. Warren, a junior who left school early, is a power rusher with quick Defensive linemen DEFENSIVE TACKLES Rank, Player, College, Ht, Wt. 1. Gerard Warren, Florida, 6-3H, 325. Comment: Next In a line of great Gators defenders, following Kevin Carter, Javon Kaarse, Reggie McGrew and Mike Peterson. 2. Richard Seymour, Georgia, 6-5V4, 295. Comment: Could be the most talented of a deep tackle class, and he turned 21 as a senior. 3. Marcus Stroud, Georgia, 6-5'/i, 321. Comment: BIg-fime run stutter. Bull-rush ability can overpower guards and centers. 4. Damione Lewis, Miami, 6-2, 293. Comment: A broken toe hampered him during his senior season, but he Is a force when he's at full speed. 5. Shaun Rogers, Texas, 6-4, 331. Comment: Because of a bothersome ankle problem, he was evaluated mainly on his stellar Junior performance. ENDS Rank, Player, College, Ht, Wt. 1. Justin Smith, Missouri, 6-4, 267. Comment: His power at the point of attack and speed off the edge makes him the most complete package available. 2. Andre Carter, California, 6-4, 253. Comment: His 55 career tackles for losses rate second in school history. Ran the 40-yard dash In 4.51 seconds. 3. Jamal Reynolds, Florida State, 62%, 267. Comment: Excellent pass rusher but was neutralized often in the second half of his senior season. 4. Cedric Scott, Southern IVIississippi, 6-5V4, 281. Comment: Will help Immediately as a pass rusher; can develop into every-down defender. 5. Aaron Schobei, Texas Christian, 63,265. Comment: Is somewhat one-dimensional. Has a quick burst as a pass rusher but limited run-stopping skills. Position overview: NFL personnel are calling this group of defensive tackles the best in years, and the first round should reflect that abundance of talent. Most of the defensive ends are considered undersized but athletic as pass rushers. Teams in need: Who isn't? Buffalo, New England, the New York Jets, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Arizona, Dallas, Green Bay, Minnesota, Atlanta, St. Louis and San Francisco all qualify. Sleeper: Paul Toviessi, Marshall (6-6, 260): Good quickness and frame that can be bulked up. Overrated: Ennis Davis, Southern Cal (6-3, 305): Has potential, but numbers are lacking. feet who often commands double- teams at 325 pounds. Seymour has the versatility to play nose tackle, pure tackle or end. Lewis has explosive quickness off the ball and runs a 4.9 40-yard dash at 293. Stroud is huge e -foot -SVs, 321 and more of a bull-rush type than a change-of-direction type. The big question mark is Rogers. He rolled the Indianapolis scouting combine in a wheelchair due to an ankle injury and hasn't worked out for scouts. He had a tremendous junior year, showing first-round talent, but could be a candidate for a team's physically unable to perform list. • PRO FOOTBALL: SPORTSCASTING Former Cowboys Aikman, Johnston join Fox Former teammates will now team in the booth with Stockton By JAIME ARON The Associated I'ress IRVING, Texas — Troy Aikman is moving from the backfield to the broadcast booth and longtime teammate Daryl Johnston is going with him. The former Dallas Cowboys will be reunited this fall on Pox as NFL game analysts. They'll work alongside play-by-play announcer Dick Stockton. "If we can go out there and do a game as if we're in our living room, I think it gives us the opportunity to have something that's pretty exciting," Aikman said Monday during a conference call announcing the hiring. "I think it has the makings of a team that can be successful and be entertaining for the audience." Aikman said that the chance to begin his second career helped convince him to retire as a quarterback after 11 seasons, three Super Bowl titles and 10 concussions. The Cowboys released him March 7 and there were several teams he was interested in joining. When those didn't come together, he started listening to his friends at Fox and they won him over "I'm excited about the newness, the freshness of the challenge," Aikman said. "That was very appealing to me." Aikman gave broadcasting a whirl two years ago when he did NFL Europe games for Fox. He leaves Tuesday for another stint overseas. Johnston, the former full- AIKMAN JOHNSTON back best known as "Moose," worked NFL Europe games for Fox last year, then did games for CBS last fall. He happily returned to Fox for the chance to work with Aikman, his teammate from 1989-99 and one of his closest friends. The two also are both soon to be fathers — tlieir wives are due a day apart in August. Johnston said he expects viewers to be surprised to hear how candid Aikman can be when speaking for himself and not as the leader of one of the most high-profile teams in sports. "People may have had the perspective that Troy was being guarded, but he was giving the opinion or insight he felt was necessary for the betterment of the team," Johnston said. "I've told Troy one of the best things about being retired is that you can be outspoken and say how you feel. It's a lot of fun. I think you're going to be in for a side of Troy Aikman a lot of people haven't seen." Aikman cautioned not to expect another Dennis Miller "I'm not going into the booth feeling I've got to create some fireworks or be a negative, critical analyst," he said. "I'm going to call it as I see it and be fair to the players because I understand how difficult the game is." The first time Aikman and Johnston call a Cowboys game will surely be a ratings-grabber. But Fox Sports president Ed Goren said he'll likely let the anticipation build. "If they early on do a Dallas game, it's almost a non-win situation," Goren said. "There's a tendency for the audience to hear what it wants to hear and sometimes place an agenda where there is none. "Because of that, my tendency would be to not have them do a Cowboys game early in the season and establish their credentials as broadcasters before we went that way." Then Goren laughed and added, "Dallas has to win some games for this quality team to visit Dallas." The Aikman-Johnston-Stockton triumvirate will be Fox's No. 2 team behind Pat Summerall and John Madden. • JACK ELWAY Innovative college coach, Elways father dies Known for his creativity on offense, Jacl< Elway was key factor in son's success By JOHN MOSSMAN The Associated Press DENVER — Jack Elway the father of John Elway and an innovative college coach in the 1970s and '80s, died of an apparent heart attack at his home in Palm Springs, Calif. He was 69. Jack Elway died Sunday morning. Broncos spokesman Jim Saccomano said. John Elway, the retired Denver Broncos' quarterback, flew to Palm Springs on Sunday to help with funeral arrangements. JACK ELWAY Jack Elway retired last year as the Broncos' director of pro scouting. 'A lot of people don't understand how close he (John Elway) and Jack were, even the people around him," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said. Coach Mike Shanahan said Jack Elway was crucial in building the Broncos' two Super Bowl championship teams. "Jack was happy to stay in the background and let others get more public attention, but his position with us was truly invaluable," he said. For the past two weeks, the elder Elway lent his expertise in the Broncos' predraft meetings, working side by side with his son. John Elway considered his father his best friend. John Elway, who retired from the Broncos after winning a second Super Bowl title in 1998 and who has designs on owning or running an NFL team. was offering football insight and learning about draft preparations. When the meetings wrapped up Friday Jack Elway returned to Palm Springs. Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick, an assistant under Elway at Stanford, called him a "classy loving person. He was as fine a coach as there was and, more important, as fine a man as there was." A native of Hoquiam, Wash., Jack Elway played quarterback at Washington State, where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees. During the 1960s, he was a high school coach in Washington and Montana. At the college level, he was head coach at Cal State-Northridge (1976-78), San Jose State (1979-83) and Stanford (1984-88). In 34 seasons as a head coach and assistant coach in high school, junior col­ lege and college, he posted a .650 winning percentage. He was selected as head coach in both the Blue-Gray and East-West Shrine games. Known for his creative, multidimensional offenses, Elway was inducted into the Cal State-Northridge Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997. He was inducted into San Jose State's Ring of Honor in 1998, joining a group that included Dick Vermeil, Bill Walsh and Steve DeBerg. He also was coach of the Frankfurt Galaxy in the World League from 199192 and scouted for the New York Jets in 1990. He spent seven years in the Broncos' scouting department (1993-99), the last five as director of pro scouting, and subsequently served the team as a scouting consultant until his death. Besides his son, Elway is survived by his wife, Jan; daughters Lee Ann and Jana; and eight grandchildren.

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