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Found 4 results

  1. Falcons' Foyesade Oluokun out to validate Ivy Leaguers in NFL By Vaughn McClure Foyesade Oluokun (No. 23) was selected by the Falcons in the sixth round of this year's draft. FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Foyesade Oluokun has a little edginess in his tone and it's not because folks often mispronounce his name. The Atlanta Falcons rookie linebacker from Yale knows there's an undesirable label that follows him into the NFL; one that says Ivy League players are highly intelligent but not necessarily high-caliber athletes. "Once they see you in the Ivy League, they shut off their brains like, 'These are not athletes like other schools are used to playing.' That's the stigma," Oluokun said. "I don't like it, personally, because I think there are a lot of athletes in the Ivy League. And long as we get our opportunity, is what it comes down to in the end. Yes, you kind of have to work harder for it. But hopefully, people are waking up to us." Oluokun, a sixth-round draft pick, joined fifth-round wide receiver Justin Watson of Penn -- drafted by Tampa Bay -- as the only Ivy League players selected in this year's draft. It marked the 46th time multiple Ivy Leaguers have been drafted but the first time since 2013, when the trio of JC Tretter (Cornell), Kyle Juszczyk (Harvard) and Mike Catapano (Princeton) were selected by Green Bay, Baltimore and Kansas City, respectively. Twelve former Ivy League players were on active NFL rosters last season with two of them, fullbacks Juszczyk of the San Francisco 49ers and James Develin of the New England Patriots, earning Pro Bowl status. Notable NFL Players From Ivy League Fritz Pollard, RB, Brown: Pollard was the first black running back to be named All-American and the first African-American to play in the Rose Bowl in 1916. He played for the Akron Pros (1920), who won the first NFL championship, and he became the first black NFL head coach with the Pros in 1921. Sid Luckman, RB, Columbia: The NFL Hall of Famer was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1939 draft by Chicago. He became the first great "T" quarterback and led the Bears to four championships. Chuck Bednarik LB, C, Penn: An NFL Hall of Famer, he was the first overall pick in the 1949 draft by Philadelphia. The guy they called "Concrete Charlie" was a nine-time All-NFL performer who gained more notoriety for a punishing hit on Frank Gifford of the New York Giants in 1960. Calvin Hill, RB, Yale: The Ivy League was officially formed in 1954, so Hill technically was the first Ivy League player to be drafted in the first round (24th overall, 1969). NBA star Grant Hill's father played 12 seasons and was named All-Pro twice. Ed Marinaro, RB, Cornell: The 1971 Heisman runner-up was a second-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings and a two-time NFC champion. Marinaro pursued an acting career and was best known as officer Joe Coffey on "Hill Street Blues." **** Jauron, FS, Yale: A fourth-round pick by Detroit, Jauron had 25 interceptions in eight seasons with the Lions and Cincinnati Bengals. Jauron went on to be the head coach of the Chicago Bears from 1999-03 and of the Buffalo Billls from 2006-09. Gary Fencik, S, Yale: The two-time Pro Bowler was an integral part of the Bears' defense and nicknamed "The Hitman" for his jarring tackles. The 1976 10th-round pick remains the Bears' all-time leader in interceptions (38). Steve Jordan TE, Brown: The 1982 seventh-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings went on to make six Pro Bowls with 6,307 career receiving yards and 28 career TD receptions. He is the father of New Orleans Saints star defensive end Cameron Jordan. Marcellus Wiley, DE, Columbia: A second-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1997, Wiley was an All-Pro in 2001 with the San Diego Chargers after recording 13 sacks and five forced fumbles. He is currently a well-known ESPN personality. Matt Birk, C, Harvard: A sixth-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings, Birk was six-time Pro Bowl and two-time All-Pro. He also was named the league's Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2001 while with the Baltimore Ravens. The Buccaneers now have three Ivy League offensive players on their roster, as Watson joins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and tight end Cameron Brate, both of Harvard. Fitzpatrick initially was a seventh-round pick of the Rams in 2005. "There were scouts that came through, but I think the difficult thing in the Ivy League was our schedule was basically seven Ivy League opponents and some Patriot League opponents, so there aren't a lot of NFL prospects on the field," Fitzpatrick said. "Obviously in the SEC or a big-time conference, you are going to have people there watching other people and they can a glimpse of you. "So the difficult thing, I think, was essentially there was me and maybe one or two other guys that were even on the NFL's radar at that point." Ivy League schools have produced a pair of Pro Football Hall of Famers in former Chicago Bears quarterback Sid Luckman from Columbia and former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker/guard Chuck Bednarik from Penn. And 10 Ivy League players have made the Pro Bowl in NFL history, including Luckman and Bednarik. Despite those success stories, skepticism remains when analyzing the modern day Ivy League talent. One NFL executive said you never know what you're getting from an Ivy League player because "they are so underdeveloped." Columbia's Al Bagnoli, the reigning league coach of the year, has seen some of the disregard up close for years. He had been the coach at Penn since 1992 before leaving for Columbia in 2015. "I think [NFL evaluators], they kind of initially go into it with a little bit of a bias," Bagnoli said of the scouting process. "And then it's really critical for our kids to test exceptionally well. I think the NFL, at times, is so numbers-driven that you need a great workout to kind of validate the level of athlete that you may be, more so then someone coming from a more visible program like an Alabama, an Oklahoma, one of those. "So I think there's a lot more pressure in the actual workout to put up numbers that validate what they're seeing on film and validate the type of athlete that they are." Oluokun is the perfect example. He was bound for an Ivy League school coming out of high school in St. Louis, selecting to attend Yale over Harvard and Penn. He developed into a second-team, all-Ivy League performer, thanks, in part, to gaining an extra semester following a torn pectoral injury as a junior. Despite those accolades, he didn't generate a lot of interest at his own pro day at Yale. Oluokun attended a second pro day, hosted by Fordham University but held at Columbia, where he opened eyes by running the 20-yard cone drill in 4.12 seconds, running a 4.48 in the 40-yard dash, a posting a 10-3 broad jump. There were about six scouts at Yale's pro day. At the one hosted by Fordham, where Oluokun completed his testing, there were more than 20. And then Oluokun started to get calls and line up visits. He then trained with a group of top draft prospects at Landow Sports Performance in Colorado, which helped not only get his name out there but helped get his body ready for the NFL. "I went in the draft with no expectations," Oluokun said. "I was hearing people say, 'You might get drafted.' I wasn't going to go in like, 'I'm going to get drafted' and be let down at the end of the day. It's all about making the roster at the end of the day, whether you're drafted or undrafted." Fitzpatrick brought up another interesting point related to the NFL's evaluation of Ivy League players. He said he got a lot questions about his true interest in pursuing an NFL career considering an Ivy League education offers other lucrative job options outside of football. He eventually sold evaluators on football being his immediate plan after college. As for Oluokun, he also has a plan after earning his degree in Economics. He has a desire to be a general manager in the NFL some day, especially if someone can give him the opportunity to shadow and learn the intricacies of the business. But for now, his sole focus is making an impact for the Falcons. "I know I can make one through special teams right away," he said. "I want to be all over the special teams: kick return, kickoff, punt, all of it. Try to fly down -- you know, I'm an athletic dude -- try to use my body in the best way possible to make tackles, make blocks. I love winning, so whatever coach wants me to do to win is what I do. Keep learning my role on defense as a linebacker and try to get myself in the game. "And yes, my dream is to be in the financial side of sports. I'm good at analyzing things really well. So I can analyze players. If I understand those concepts and put money on top of it, I think I can do really well there." Maybe Oluokun will find himself scouting the Ivy League one day. He knows first-hand there are talented athletes waiting to be discovered.
  2. I used to live for 20+ years in Atlanta, but now I live in the Bay Area (since 2003). I left the city, but not the memories and my affiliation to the Falcons. This season has been like a jigsaw puzzle- difficult dissecting the Falcons. Regardless, I will take a 8-5 record with a difficult schedule with the chance of winning the division. The NFC is full of parity and no team is invincible. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Wild Card team causing havoc in the playoffs. The Rams and the Eagles Are unknown commodity in the playoffs with young inexperienced QB’s. The Vikings are good defensively, but are not a super team. I wouldn’t be surprised that a team like the Falcons, the Saints, and Seattle could be far more dangerous with experienced QB’s. The Falcons are focused and they will finish strong. The Panthers will be out of the playoff contention due to tough schedule and one-dimensional offense that is very predictable. As real fans, we need to be optimistic and anything could happen once we make it to the playoffs. We have a great Conference record and winning record on the road. We have beaten the Saints, Seahawks, Cowboys, Packers, and the Lions. We will blowout the Bucs on MNF, and will go to New Orleans with a momentum. Our Defense is looking good and more experienced than last year. We are producing sacks and hits on the opposing OBs. Our running game is strong and OL has only given 17 sacks. We are definitely talented and could cause major havoc in the playoffs.
  3. The criminal complaint an FBI agent filed in federal court laid out some details of the comings and goings after one prisoner was caught Feb. 3. Justin Stinson was returning to the prison camp with a bag containing tequila, a cellphone, scissors, cigarettes, cigars and food, the complaint said. Stinson was indicted on Valentine’s Day on one count of escape and five counts of possession of prohibited items. He is to be arraigned Wednesday.
  4. My partner in crime and I plan on invading Soldier Field and cheering on our Falcons for the season opener against the bears on Sunday September 10th and we plan on rising up in Chicago all weekend. There's actually a Falcons Bar there named Kelsey's! Pep Rally, anyone? I'm sounding the alarm and lighting up the bat-signal. Let's follow our team into battle and show them the real falcons fanbase. We. Want. You. Let's go!!!