Category Archives: Custom Ravens Jersey China

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Each day, the same member of the Baltimore Ravens athletic training staff ensures tight end Mark Andrews has a bag available filled with supplies to manage his Type 1 diabetes.

Inside linebacker Josh Bynes has a go-to employee to call when he needs an update on his schedule or has a question about equipment. Offensive tackle James Hurst sets up three weekly sessions with a coaching analyst who helps him with stretching and recovery.

Pro Bowl players, inventive coaches and disciplined talent evaluators are at the root of the Ravens’ success, and they all raked in praise after the team clinched its second straight AFC North title last week.

But like any big organization, the outward faces of this operation aren’t alone.

From groundskeepers to trainers to facility managers, the Ravens have more than 100 employees who don’t suit up on game days or have any say over the roster. So in the wake of the AFC North championship and with the holidays approaching, I thought it’d be a good time to ask players about the unsung members of the franchise.

I posed this question to 11 Ravens players over the past two days: Can you name one employee, not a player or a coach, that keeps everything running smoothly at the team headquarters and deserves attention for his or her behind-the-scenes role?

Four different players picked football information manager Megan McLaughlin, who has been with the team for 17 seasons. She handles updates for the players’ iPads and manages a wide variety of daily tasks for players and coaches.

Several players mentioned the volunteer firemen who work at Under Armour Performance Center during the week cleaning and organizing the locker room before and after practice. And every player who spoke to PennLive said dozens of unheralded employees deserve a slice of credit for the team’s success.

Here are the players surveyed (there was no formula to it; I just talked to players available while media was allowed in the locker room), along with their picks and explanations:

Inside linebacker Josh Bynes’ pick: Megan McLaughlin

“Megan, she does it all, man. You need anything, you need to talk to anybody about anything, she’s always my go-to to call. And I always apologize to her, because I’m like, ‘Meg, I don’t know who else to call.’ She’s just like a pivotal part of this organization, and she needs more recognition.”

Defensive tackle Michael Pierce’s pick: Megan McLaughlin

“She does everything. Emails, any little thing that anybody needs, if you forget your tickets, she’s on top of everything. I don’t know how she does it. … She has her hands on everything. Everybody knows: Around here, if you need something, call Megan.”

Tight end Mark Andrews’s pick: Assistant certified athletic trainer Collin Francis

“For me, he helps a lot with my diabetes. He helped me with all my stuff. I mean, all those guys in the training room are awesome. [Collin] made me a diabetes bag that has all my stuff and everything like that. Those are my guys, man.”

Wide receiver Willie Snead’s pick: Senior director of team travel Joan Fennekohl

“Joan’s the one who does all the tickets; she takes the tickets to hotels. I’ve called her last minute to set up hotels and every time, she’s like, ‘I got it.’”

Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, despite praise and apparel sales, tries to ‘block out the noise’

A boost in business represents one sign pointing to Ravens QB Lamar Jackson’s surging popularity.

Safety Chuck Clark’s pick: The firemen

“They’re the hardest working people in the building. They’re cleaning up after grown men and all that. They volunteer their time up here. You talk to some of them and they’ll tell you about the calls and missions they go on and stuff like that. But here, it’s just picking up, laundry, helping us put on our shoulder pads. All that stuff.”

Right guard Marshal Yanda’s pick: Megan McLaughlin and vice president of public relations Chad Steele

“Megan. 100 percent. She does a ton for us. … Megan is like more football-oriented stuff — like schedule stuff and iPad stuff. She takes care of some stuff on Sundays. And she is on it, too. She’s always been like that. If you text her, she fires right back. She’s on it.”

“Chad’s experience with handling the media and knowing what to say, that’s just always been very helpful.”

Tight end Nick Boyle’s pick: “Little Mike in the training room”

“I have a good relationship with all the equipment people and all the trainers. I can’t mention just one, because then they’re all going to get salty. … How about this, say, ‘Mikey in the training room.’ He’s always there whenever I need him and for whatever I want. He’s always there helping me get ready for practice. Little Mike in the training room.” (Note: Boyle, with a smile, declined to specify this, but the Ravens employ an assistant athletic trainer/physical therapist named Mike Thomas.)

Long snapper Morgan Cox’s pick: Facilities assistant Marlon McLean

“He’s tirelessly working, doing the janitor job. But then, I don’t know if people know this, he’s the D.J. at practice as well. So he runs speaker city out there during practice when you hear the crowd noise or whatever at practice. … Marlon makes sure we got toilet paper stock and all that stuff, and he’s in here so many hours of the day.”

Fullback Patrick Ricard’s pick:Megan McLaughlin

“She’s just like — she does everything here. She just has a great attitude. Every time I text her and ask her any questions, she’s always very responsive, and she does a lot. A lot of the stuff she does kind of goes unnoticed. She’s kind of like the cog in the whole machine. She keeps everything going.”

Offensive tackle James Hurst’s pick: Coaching analyst Sam Rosengarten

“He’s really good at helping guys in his free time with stretching, activation-type stuff. Getting the muscles groups ready to go. He’s always there when you need him. I work with him like three times a week. He’s helped me a lot behind the scenes.”

Custom Mark Andrews Jersey Large

After a slow start, the Baltimore Ravens offense was able to shake off the rust.

After scoring on a two-play, 32-second drive to get the lead, Baltimore’s defense answered the call to force the Cleveland Browns to a three-and-out. With little more than a minute remaining in the game and no timeouts, quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ offense weren’t going to be denied.

Marching down the field, Jackson fought off would-be-tacklers to connect with tight end Mark Andrews for his second touchdown of the game.

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It was an MVP-caliber throw from Jackson, putting the ball in the spot where only Andrews could catch it in spite of defenders breathing down his neck. It’s proof of ascension from Jackson this season as a passer and the perfect highlight to prove why he’s the MVP frontrunner.

As has been the case all game long, it also hit another big milestone for Jackson. He’s now tied with Cam Newton and Steve Young as the only quarterbacks to ever throw 35 touchdown passes and run for seven more touchdowns. It’s worth noting both those quarterbacks won the NFL’s MVP that season and went to the Super Bowl.

Custom Bradley Bozeman Jersey Large

The Baltimore Ravens had a question mark in their offensive line as the 2019 NFL season approached. They had plenty of contenders for the left-guard spot, but seemingly no clear favorite.

The job went to Bradley Bozeman, a second-year player from Alabama with 214 snaps of NFL offensive experience.

So how has Bozeman done?

“You know what I think?” Ravens offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris said. “Bradley has done a heck of a job — one heck of a job. I mean, you look at the people he’s had to block from Week 1 to last weekend. He had to go against Chris Jones. He had to go against (Cameron) Heyward. He’s had to go against the young man that they activated last week from Alabama (Jarran Reed), his old teammate. He’s had the top inside people and has done one heck of a job.

“I’ve seen nothing but good growth. He’s improved as a puller. He’s improved as a good pass protector. We all make mistakes — coaches, players. We all have a little flaw here or there. The object is to correct it, and he’s correctable, and he works hard at it. He’s doing one hell of a job.”

Baltimore traded Alex Lewis, a 10-game starter at left guard in 2018, to the New York Jets on Aug. 5. The preseason depth chart showed third-year player Jermaine Eluemunor in the No. 1 slot at left guard. But after he got hurt during practice, the Ravens traded him to the New England Patriots on Aug. 28.

Baltimore still had James Hurst, a tackle who played left guard at the end of the 2018 season when Lewis was hurt, fourth-round draft pick Ben Powers and undrafted rookie Patrick Mekari vying with Bozeman as left-guard candidates.

They all made the team, but Bozeman got the job, and he’s played all 520 of the Ravens’ offensive snaps this season.

Bozeman got a break last weekend when Baltimore hit its open date, and he spent his time off in a unique way. Handley High School in Roanoke retired Bozeman’s jersey at halftime of the Tigers’ 41-14 victory over Talladega on Oct. 25.

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Tonight, the Handley Tigers retired current @Ravens player @BSBoze’s #78 jersey! Congratulations Bradley! We are proud of you!

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Bozeman was the Class 3A Lineman of the Year for Handley’s undefeated AHSAA Class 3A championship team in 2011.

“I can’t form words to show how blessed I am and how much appreciation I have for this school and this community and this county,” Bozeman told the Randolph Leader. “It’s an unbelievable honor, and I’m really excited about it.”

Bozeman wore No. 78 at Handley because his older brother, Jody, had worn it. And it will be worn again, even though it’s retired.

“My nephew is actually going into the ninth grade next year,” Bozeman told Glenn Clark Radio, “and we set it up so the Bozeman bloodline can continue to wear that number. He’s going to wear No. 78 next year. It’s retired, but it’s not quite retired all the way.”

Bozeman returns from the break on Sunday, when the Ravens square off against the Patriots at 7:20 p.m. CST at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. NBC will televise the game.

New England leads the AFC East at 8-0. The Ravens sit atop the AFC North at 5-2.

“Big games like this, they are crucial and they’re so much fun to play in,” Bozeman said. “This game is going to be a war, and it’s going to come down to the guys up front. We are really excited about it as an offensive unit and as a whole team, so we’ll see what we are really made of. They’re a great team with one of the best quarterbacks to ever live … so we are really excited.”

Custom Orlando Brown Jr. Jersey Large

The Lamar Jackson explosion began last season around this time when the 21-year-old rookie Baltimore Ravens quarterback replaced the injured Joe Flacco.

An equally important though less spectacular explosion took place in New Orleans three weeks earlier, in October 2018, when rookie offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. was thrust into the Ravens starting lineup after veteran James Hurst was injured in a game against the Saints.

Baltimore lost that day 24-23, on Oct. 21, but the Ravens gained a record 351 total yards of offense. Jackson took over three weeks later, led the team to 6-1 record and the playoffs.

Together Jackson, 22, and Brown 23, have helped Baltimore establish a glide and grind offense that has carried over to this season with the Ravens at 9-2 going into Sunday’s game against San Francisco.

Lamar Jackson isn’t the prototypical quarterback — he’s better

We rave about Jackson’s speed and dexterity, about how he’s changing the way quarterback is being played. After the Ravens’ 45-6 victory over Los Angeles on Monday, Brown told me that while Jackson’s remarkable talents may seem groundbreaking for fans of a certain generation, this style of play is the only style he knows.

This is how he’s played the game, he said, for the last 13 years.

It’s a millennial thing.

“With me being one who’s in this generation, I’ve always dealt with a mobile quarterback my entire career,” he said. “With someone who’s a dual threat of some type, from Bake to Lamar, even in high school, with some of the guys I had.”

“Bake” is Baker Mayfield, the Cleveland Browns’ second-year quarterback. Brown and Baker were teammates for two seasons at Oklahoma. Brown was part of the Sooners offensive line that blocked for Mayfield during his Heisman Trophy-winning season in 2017.

Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown (center) keeps Baylor’s Travon Blanchard (right) away from quarterback Baker Mayfield during an NCAA college football game in Waco, Texas. Brown was named to the AP Preseason All-America Team on Aug. 22, 2017.

AP PHOTO/TONY GUTIERREZ, FILE
“They’re very different types of players,” Brown said. “From a pocket-passer perspective, Lamar is way more athletic, everyone knows that, no disrespect to Baker.

“I love him,” Brown said of Jackson.

In the past, many offensive linemen would complain about quarterbacks who scrambled because they introduced uncertainty into how they had to block. In this NFL environment, uncertainty is good.

“The thing is, sometimes you don’t know where he’s going to be,” Brown said, referring to Jackson. “But that’s a good thing, because the guy I’m going against doesn’t know either.”

Brown watched Jackson close-up, first as a backup offensive tackle. Now he is one of Jackson’s primary protectors. Brown said Jackson’s genius is his uncanny ability to drop back, see whether an offensive lineman is being beaten or driving his man up field, react to whatever he sees and still keep his eyes downfield.

I asked Brown if playing with Mayfield at Oklahoma prepared him for playing with Jackson.

Not exactly.

“Oklahoma prepared me a bunch for a lot of different things,” Brown said. “But Lamar, they couldn’t prepare me for that.”

Nor could life have prepared Brown for the emotional twists and turns and the ultimate irony that landed him in Baltimore with the Ravens.

As each aspect of Jackson’s game has been dissected, I’ve found myself thinking more about Orlando Brown Jr.

Brown is a second-generation NFL offensive lineman. That’s rare for anyone but especially rare for African Americans, whose presence on the offensive line in any significant numbers is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Brown’s father was Orlando Brown Sr., the irrepressible “Zeus” Brown.

A defensive lineman in college, Brown Sr. was a undrafted free agent from South Carolina State who was signed by the Cleveland Browns in 1993 and became the team’s starting left offensive tackle.

Brown Sr. moved to Baltimore with the franchise in 1996 — the year Brown Jr. was born. Brown Sr. signed with Cleveland in 1999, becoming the NFL’s highest-paid offensive lineman. That season a freak accident nearly ended his career when a referee’s flag struck him in his right eye, temporarily blinding him. He remained out of football until 2003, when he rejoined the Ravens.

When Brown Jr. was 10 years old, his father took him to the Ravens training facility and predicted that one day his son would be a Raven.

Orlando Brown Sr.

In 2011, Brown Sr. died of a rarely fatal diabetic condition. He was 40; Brown Jr. was 15. Now, eight years later, Brown Jr. is a fixture at right tackle, where his father played.

In the intervening years, Brown has vowed to uphold and extend his father’s legacy, even while playing in his long shadow.

Brown’s father played a much more physical style at right tackle; he prefers technique and finesse mixed with a heavy dose of power.

Brown refers to himself as an artist when it comes to his approach to playing offensive tackle. One must be when playing with Jackson.

By his own admission and by the number, Brown is hardly a study in athleticism. This can be a career kiss of death, especially for black athletes, who are often held to a high standard of athletic expectations.

During the 2018 NFL combine, much of the talk was about Brown’s poor workout. He was projected as a first-round pick but dropped in ranking largely because of his poor showing in Indianapolis. He ran the slowest 40-yard dash of any player there, did only 14 reps on the bench press and his vertical jump and broad jump were last among the invitees.

No one was happier about this than Ozzie Newsome, then the Ravens’ vice president and general manager.

Several teams passed on Brown; the Ravens did not. They used their first two picks to draft tight end Hayden Hurst and then Lamar Jackson. They used their third pick to draft Brown.

Two years later, Hurst is a staple in the Ravens three-prong tight end offense. The “unathletic” Brown is blocking for Jackson, the most athletic quarterback in the NFL. Brown has offset his lack of athleticism with technique, brains and a healthy dose of brute strength.

In a string of tweets after the combine, Brown warned NFL teams to ease up on the analytics, not to so quickly judge a book by its cover.

He tweeted:

*”many evaluators will write off several OL because of his “lack of athleticism”. I’m here to tell you to pay attention to his film, figure out how he manipulates his blocks based off his tools, and don’t count him out cause he isn’t a Super athlete.”

In another tweet, Brown wrote:

* “I’m a guy that’s big as hell, long as hell. I grew up around football for the majority of my life. I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great coaches and mentors. I learned how to play ball.

*”The OL position isn’t easy to evaluate … it’s easy to turn to numbers because typically your best blockers are your best Athletes. In my opinion it’s simple, OL is like a form of art. We all have different tools and abilities..

*”I use my length to help me recover. A lot of OL rely on there athleticism instead of developing a set of fundamentals you are confident in.”

With Orlando Brown Jr., Lamar Jackson and Ravens, the unspectacular becomes more spectacular each week.

They have looked spectacular in the last few weeks and will have to be spectacular for the next two months if they have any hopes of winning a championship.

Keeping Jackson out of harm’s way is the key to that. Nothing fancy. Nothing flashy — leave spectacular to No. 8.

“Lamar is great,” Brown said as he walked toward the Ravens’ team bus.

“At the end of the day, up front, our job is simple: Protect him to the best of our abilities, try to keep people as far away as possible.”

Custom Lamar Jackson Jersey Large

Lamar Jackson has run his way into the NFL record book.

The Baltimore Ravens standout on Thursday broke Michael Vick’s mark for single-season rushing yards by a quarterback.

Jackson eclipsed the record on a 5-yard run in the first quarter of the Ravens’ 42-21 victory over New York Jets and finished with 86 yards on eight carries. He entered the night needing 23 yards to surpass Vick’s total of 1,039, set in 2006, and finished with 1,103 on the year so far.

On the Ravens’ first drive of the night, Jackson rushed for 27 yards on four carries and completed all three of his passes for 41 yards.

“It’s pretty cool (to break Vick’s record),” Jackson said after Thursday’s game. “(He was) my favorite player growing up. It’s amazing, and I’m going to cherish that forever. We’ve just got to keep it going.”

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Jackson, who threw for 212 yards and five scores on Thursday, is now 111 passing yards away from becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to have 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in the same season. He also tied Vinny Testaverde for the Ravens’ single-season passing touchdown record of 33.

“It’s something that everybody can be excited about. Breaking that record, it’s something I can honestly say I didn’t think I’d see for a long time,” Vick told the Ravens’ official website this week. “When Lamar was coming out of college, we had conversations. I used to tell him, ‘Play your game, be you.’ But I couldn’t even foresee Lamar doing this so quickly. It shows if you’re with the right teammates, the right coaches, the right organization, what can happen.”

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Travis Homer was initially listed as one of the top waiver-wire targets for Week 17, but that was before we got an early Christmas present: Beastmode is (probably) back! Marshawn Lynch is expected to sign with the Seahawks this week to replace Chris Carson, who is out for the season with a hip injury. That immediately makes Lynch a very intriguing Fantasy target for those of you still playing in Week 17, as the expected lead back for a team that wants to run the ball. Obviously, the 34-year-old may not be in game shape after sitting out the entire season before this, so he won’t be a must-start option. However, if you lost Carson or Mark Ingram, or just need a running back for this week, Lynch is in the discussion, and he’s widely available.

Week 17 is always tough to make sense of for Fantasy players, which is why we always stress that you should be wrapping up your playoffs in Week 16. However, we know there are still some of you out there with something to play for, and this year could be one of the trickiest Week 17’s in memory.

Because most of the NFL doesn’t really have much to play for. 10 of 12 playoff spots are already locked up across the two conferences, with the No. 1 seed in the AFC already locked up and just four teams alive for a playoff spot otherwise; in the NFC, there is still plenty of seeding to be sorted out, but with both wild card spots locked up, most of the conference is playing without stakes in Week 17. We don’t know exactly who will be resting starters for Week 17, but it’s safe to say we’ll see plenty of backups next week.

Even if Mark Ingram hadn’t left Sunday’s game with a calf injury, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill might still be viable pickups for those of you playing in Week 17. After all, we already got reports more than a week ago that the Ravens would be resting Lamar Jackson if they had their seed clinched, which they did in Week 16. That means we’ll see Robert Griffin start next week against the Steelers, and it probably means we wouldn’t have seen much of Ingram even if he were healthy.

Add in a calf strain, and we already know Ingram won’t be out there next week, which means we should see plenty of Edwards and Hill. It’s not a great matchup, but even without Jackson, the Ravens should be able to move the ball on the ground. Edwards figures to lead the way, and has proven to be a productive rusher in this offense, averaging 5.2 yards per carry on more than 200 carries over the last two seasons. He will be a viable starting Fantasy option for Week 17 with Ingram sidelined, while Hill has some PPR appeal in a role that should garner him a dozen or so touches.

For those of you playing into Week 17, here’s the rest of our early waiver-wire targets:

WEEK 17

Custom Chris Board Jersey Large

CLEVELAND, Oh. (WJZ) — Ravens tackle Ronnie Stanley and linebacker Chris Board are listed as questionable for Sunday’s AFC North matchup in Cleveland against the Browns.

Stanley and Board returned to practice Wednesday after suffering concussions in the Ravens’ win over the Bills back on December 8. They were listed as full participants in practice Friday.

Neither Stanley nor Board played in the Ravens’ win Thursday against the Jets.

A win Sunday against the Browns would give the Ravens home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Baltimore Ravens simply need to beat the Cleveland Browns in Week 16 and they’ll lock themselves in as the No. 1 seed in the AFC. But they could have the tall task of beating a division rival without one of their best players.

According to coach John Harbaugh, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and linebacker Chris Board are still in the concussion protocol.

Both players missed the Ravens’ Week 15 42-21 win over the New York Jets. But with Cleveland likely attempting to play spoiler over Baltimore and looking to pick up a key win to potentially save jobs, missing Stanley would be a huge blow to the Ravens’ offense.

Stanley has been playing at an insane level, stepping up his game this season. He’s allowed just six pressures and no sacks through 13 active games, something that seems almost unheard of in this era of football. Of course, Baltimore features the top-ranked rushing offense in yards, touchdowns and yards-per-carry average — something Stanley is a big portion of.

Board hasn’t played much on defense after the Ravens signed L.J. Fort and Josh Bynes in the middle of the season. However, Board has gotten a number of snaps on special teams for Baltimore. And as a key reserve inside linebacker, Board would likely be counted on if there was an injury to Bynes or Fort.

With such a key game upcoming and with the playoffs looming in the future, the Ravens have an interesting question to ask themselves. While few teams have a chance to sit their players to rest up before the postseason, Baltimore might look to be extra cautious with Stanley returning in these final two games. But with a full week before the Ravens have to suit up against the Browns, there’s plenty of time for Stanley and Board to get healthy and back into the lineup.

Custom Brandon Williams Jersey Large

There are many Ravens players lining up for redemption this Sunday when they take on the Browns.

The Ravens were thrashed on the ground, surrendering 165 yards and three touchdowns to runningback Nick Chubb. That game marked the last time Baltimore lost a game, winning 10 straight games since their 40-25 defeat.

Additionally, that game marked the only game that defensive tackle Brandon Williams missed all season. In 13 games, Williams has accumulated 32 combined tackles, a career-high five quarterback hits, and has served as a main cog in the Ravens rush defense.

Williams stated on the team’s website that he’s ready to “give everything” he has this Sunday.

“I missed the last time, so I definitely want to go in there and give everything I got and definitely help my team to a victory.”

That sures up any concerns of Williams availability this Sunday, even though he did enjoy a rest day Thursday and did not practice.

Since missing the first matchup with Cleveland, Williams has played dominant football including two games with seven tackles respectively.

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale spoke about the duo of Williams and defensive tackle Michael Pierce.

When going over goals on defense, Ravens DC Wink Martindale labels Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce the FSU brothers.

“I can just tell you ‘up’ is the last word of that,” he said. “Neither one of them went to Florida State. You can understand where we’re going with that.”

— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) December 19, 2019
Williams and the Ravens must stop the run if they want to lock up the #1 seed and ensure the playoffs run through Baltimore.

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Today is … Winter Solstice. Fittingly, it’s also National Flashlight Day.

Today’s Crimson Tide schedule
· Men’s basketball, Rocket City Classic: Alabama vs. Belmont, 2:30 p.m. CT, SEC Network, Live Video, Live Audio

Crimson Tide results
• Women’s basketball: Alabama 85, Radford 51

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Did you notice?
• The National Quarterback Club named Mater Dei (Calif.) senior and Alabama signee Bryce Young as the 2019 High School Quarterback of the Year.

• The SEC game of the week will no longer be on CBS after 2023. Sports Business Journal first reported that after making a bid worth approximately $300 million annual, the network pulled out of the negotiations when it because obvious that was going to be outbid by ABC/ESPN.

• Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman James Carpenter (concussion) was placed on injured reserve, ending his season.

• Alabama graduate Steve Shaw, who has served as the Coordinator of Football Officials for the SEC for nearly a decade, has been named college football’s next national coordinator of officials. Shaw has also served as the NCAA Secretary-Rules Editor for Football since 2017. He’ll succeed Rogers Redding ,who announced his retirement in October after nine years as national coordinator.

• The soccer team announced that goaltender McKinley Crone has transferred from Oklahoma.

• Former Alabama great Don Hutson was named to the NFL 100 All-Time Team

NFL

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· Dec 21, 2019
Don Hutson is one of the 10 wide receivers selected to the #NFL100 All-Time Team!

6x First-Team All-Pro, 4x Pro Bowl selection
3x NFL Champion
488 receptions, 7,991 receiving yards, 99 receiving TDs
Led NFL in receptions 8 times, rec. yards 7 times, rec. TDs 9 times

View image on Twitter

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“He changed the wide receiver position as much as anybody who’s ever played.”

: #NFL100 All-Time Team on @nflnetwork

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On this date in Crimson Tide history:
December 21, 1934: Alabama tackle Bill Young suffered an appendicitis attack in Del Rio, Tex., as the Crimson Tide traveled to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl to face Stanford. Another Crimson Tide player, Jim Whatley, was also under doctor’s care but was expected to be ready for the January 1 showdown. – Bryant Museum

December 21, 1989: Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram Jr., was born in Hackensack, N.J.

December 21, 1992: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was born in Orlando.

December 21, 1997: Quinnen Williams was born in Birmingham Ala.

Crimson Tide quote of the day:
“I think that anybody who comes out of Coach Saban’s program is a little ahead of the curve because of how he develops his players physically, mentally and as men.” – Mark Ingram II, Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy winner.

Custom Jaylon Ferguson Jersey Large

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Near his hometown in rural Louisiana, Baltimore Ravens rookie pass rusher Jaylon Ferguson was always one of the more quiet and courteous kids on the West Feliciana High School football team, coach Robb Odom said. But he also caused teammates to leave the field in tears on a regular basis.

“Jaylon beat our offensive linemen so badly in practice that they would cry,” Odom said. “He was just physically overpowering and he wouldn’t let up. It was every single play. He didn’t stop.”

In the Ravens’ locker room this week, Ferguson said he knew one player Odom was referencing. There was an offensive tackle named Drew. Ferguson considered Drew a close childhood friend with whom he shared a deep bond — yet he saw no problem overmatching his buddy on the football field, barreling past him day after day, snap after snap.

“It was like a life lesson,” Ferguson said. “You’re going to get knocked down over and over and over.”

It’s that ruthless side of Ferguson’s personality that the Ravens hope will bolster their quest for a championship. Many experts view Baltimore (9-2) as Super Bowl favorites entering Sunday’s matchup with the San Francisco 49ers (10-1), because quarterback Lamar Jackson, a balanced offense and a talented-filled secondary have led the path to seven straight wins.

If there’s one aspect of the team that could use a boost, that remains somewhat of a concerning question mark in the midst of an exception stretch, it’s the pass rush. Baltimore has totaled 25 sacks this season, tied for 24th out of 32 NFL teams.

Ferguson thinks he has the power — and the mentality — to transform the defense.

Nick Bosa
Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers: 4 stats that could tell the story

The 49ers have sacked opposing quarterbacks on 11.8 percent of their dropbacks, the highest rate in the NFL.

After veteran Pernell McPhee suffered a season-ending triceps injury Oct. 20, Ferguson stepped into a starting role and has become a fixture in the team’s defensive front.

The NCAA Division I all-time sacks leader, Ferguson can play in a variety of spots for the Ravens. Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale often allows him to rush the passer from the interior of the defensive line or sets him up on the edge, where he has the speed and muscle to beat top-tier offensive tackles the way he did for four years at Louisiana Tech.

Ferguson recorded his first NFL sack Nov. 17 against the Texans and piled up a career-high five tackles in Monday’s win over the Rams. Coaches feel like he’s ascending.

“I’ve been pleased with Jaylon Ferguson since he’s been here, and I keep telling you guys, ‘He’s on the come,’” Martindale said last week. “He’s on the come. Watch out. And continue to watch out, because it’s really all starting to click for him.”

And once things click, Ferguson said he can let his fiery side burn brighter.

Off the field, it’s easy to label Ferguson a laid-back, positive presence. He regularly shows off a toothy smile and wears thick-rimmed glasses around the Ravens’ team headquarters. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound football star is the first person in his family to graduate from college, and during high school, Odom said Ferguson spent extra time talking with teachers whenever progress reports showed his grade slipping below a B.

In adulthood, Ferguson’s life revolves around his two children. He has a 6-month-old daughter and a son who turns 2 on Saturday. Ferguson, who uses the nickname Sack Daddy, said his family provides the motivation he needs to morph from easygoing father to merciless pass rusher once he slides on shoulder pads.

“When I’m off the field, I’m just really, really calm, because I don’t see no reason to be riled up all the time,” Ferguson said. “On the field, I got people I can’t let down. That’s how I work. That’s how I eat. And I’ve got my kids now, so I’m not going to let nothing stop me from eating.”

pic.twitter.com/i4kwHsm6ks

— Jaylon Ferguson (@SackDaddy45) October 31, 2019
During high school, Ferguson’s drive came from the desire to create a career in football. Odom said Ferguson never wanted to play offense like most top-notch players, and instead preferred to use his overwhelming length and strength to wallop quarterbacks.

After games, opposing coaches would shake hands with Odom and say “we had no chance of stopping that kid.”

Ferguson spurned a few programs from power conferences to attend Louisiana Tech, a school in his home state. Odom said Ferguson felt he’d have the support and opportunity to graduate from Louisiana Tech while still pursuing an NFL future.

When defensive line coach Rick Petri joined the Bulldogs’ staff before the 2015 season, Ferguson was a redshirt freshman. Petri could sense that the kid from West Feliciana carried star potential. Many players with imposing size and natural skill like Ferguson can be reluctant to embrace the physical nature of football.

“What made Jaylon different is he loved the contact from Day 1,” Petri said.

Ferguson totaled a school-record 14.5 sacks as a redshirt sophomore in 2016, and in Petri’s mind, he continued to solidify himself as an NFL prospect during his junior year. Ferguson’s sack total dipped to seven that season, but Petri said he began playing within the team’s system more effectively.

He used the more sensitive side of his personality to take the time needed to understand the intricacies of the defense. Ferguson didn’t selfishly chase sacks when he could take on blockers and free space for a teammate, Petri said.

As a senior in 2018, Ferguson put all of his best qualities on display — the patience and motivation, the relentless and the understanding. He finished the year with 17.5 sacks, and his 45 career sacks he broke an NCAA record held by former Raven and Arizona State star Terrell Suggs.

Ferguson’s success didn’t translate into immediate production in the NFL. He landed in Baltimore as a third-round pick after providing aid to tornado victims in Ruston, Louisiana, the week of the draft. He was inactive for the first two games of the Ravens’ season, but more chances to see the field arose when the Ravens cut outside linebacker Tim Williams on Oct. 1.

Little by little, Ferguson’s playing time expanded until McPhee went down in Week 7. The Ravens decided not to make a trade or sign an established edge rusher; they instead widened Ferguson’s opportunity.

In most senses, he’s taken advantage. Ferguson still sees room to grow, and the Ravens can hold onto the belief that he’ll improve enough to give the team another productive pass rusher to pair with outside linebacker Matthew Judon. At the least, Ferguson is providing steady play that helps anchor Baltimore’s defense.

“He has gotten better every single week,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He still knows he has a long way to go, but the physicality, the heavy hands, the edge setting, the way he’s rushing the quarterback — Yes, I’d say he’s done a good job.”

When Ferguson uses his natural ability to push past an offensive lineman in games or practices these days, nobody is reduced to tears.

He still thinks about Drew from time to time, though.

“I think I helped him. He got better,” Ferguson said. “Actually, he played damn good for us.”

So why, Ferguson asked, would he feel bad about beating him every day at practice?