• Devon Still making an impact in the NFL

    When Cincinnati Bengal’s defensive end Devon Still suffered injuries this past season, his chances of playing football were slim. And when Still heard the news about his daughter, he never anticipated playing football again.

    In June 2014, Still’s daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma Stage 4 cancer. Neuroblastma, a pediatric cancer, is the most common childhood cancer with an average of 650 cases per year in the United States. Neuroblastma is a disease that develops from a neural crest in the sympathetic nervous system.

    After cutting Still from the 53-man roster, the Bengals resigned him to the practice squad the next day and elected to donate sales of his jersey to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to fund research for pediatric cancer and to help families who are suffering from them.

    With his mind on his daughter’s health, Still put his football career on the back burner. After Leah’s diagnosis, Still slept by her side in the hospital even after his recent back surgery, and, out of support for his daughter, shaved his head and will only grow back his hair when Leah grows hers back again.

    “Football stopped crossing my mind,” Still said in an interview this season. “When I heard she had a 50 percent chance of survival, and then I heard the cancer went into her bones, I just wanted to spend all my time with her—in case her time ran out. You know, that is not time you could ever get back.”

    Hearing the news about Still’s daughter, people around the country began buying his jersey to raise money and awareness for charity. This included ESPN sportscaster Scott Van Pelt who bought 50 jerseys and New Orleans Saint’s head coach Sean Payton who purchased 100.

    The Bengals ended the fundraiser this past week after selling exactly 14, 945 jerseys and raising over $1.25 million. The money will be presented to the hospital on Nov. 6 at the end of the first quarter during the Bengal’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

    Still has appeared in every game this season and has recorded nine total tackles. His playing time is expected to diminish since defensive end Brandon Thompson is close to returning to the team. Either way, Still’s impact for the Bengals and the city of Cincinnati has been nothing but sensational.

  • Texas picks up another big time recruit

    After a rough loss in Manhattan, Kansas, on Saturday, Head Football Coach Charlie Strong was able to pull out a recruiting win on Sunday afternoon when Cameron Townsend, a 2015 4-star OLB from Missouri City announced his commitment to the Longhorns, choosing Strong’s team over Oklahoma and Oregon State.

    Townsend’s announcement makes him the 18th commit in the class of 2015, currently ranked 16th in the country and first in the Big 12 by ESPN.

    At 6 foot 1, 205 pounds, Townsend has a similar, though slightly leaner, build to current starting linebacker Jordan Hicks, who despite being plagued by injuries the past two seasons has been one of Texas’ most reliable forces on defense. Townsend said one of Texas’ biggest pulls was the fact that he had “a good opportunity to play early” with Hicks’ departure after this season with the coaching staff recruiting Townsend for Hicks’ position.

    On film, Townsend shows his explosiveness off the snap and quick feet, proving his reported 4.63 40 time. Townsend also showed good physicality, unafraid to go head to head with the big guys on the line as well as with receivers in the slot. On the pass rush, he comes off the edge well and is able to elude blockers on his path to the quarterback. He also makes good use of a long wingspan to make tackles when one arm is occupied by a blocker. He also shows great natural athleticism, as shown in a game his junior year where he hurdled a lineman en route to a sack.

    Townsend also does a great job on the delayed blitz, which accounts for his high tackles-for-loss count.

    Though, a few times on his junior year highlight tape he seemed unwilling to finish tackles, applying one hit then letting his teammates bring the ball carrier down. While he can get away with this against high school competition, a tough college running back would make him look silly. He will have to bulk up in the spring and summer, but has the frame and work ethic to get it done.

    Overall, Townsend has raw talent and athletic ability that he has been able to get by on in high school. He described his current coaching staff as “offense-minded,” so it could be fun to see what Strong and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford are able to turn him into with some closer technique coaching. Strong has proved this season that he isn’t afraid to play- and even start- true freshman, so don’t be surprised to see Townsend getting quality reps next fall if he can show a good understanding of the defense.

  • Texas picks up another big time recruit

    After a rough loss in Manhattan, Kansas, on Saturday, Head Football Coach Charlie Strong was able to pull out a recruiting win on Sunday afternoon when Cameron Townsend, a 2015 4-star OLB from Missouri City announced his commitment to the Longhorns, choosing Strong’s team over Oklahoma and Oregon State.

    Townsend’s announcement makes him the 18th commit in the class of 2015, currently ranked 16th in the country and first in the Big 12 by ESPN.

    At 6 foot 1, 205 pounds, Townsend has a similar, though slightly leaner, build to current starting linebacker Jordan Hicks, who despite being plagued by injuries the past two seasons has been one of Texas’ most reliable forces on defense. Townsend said one of Texas’ biggest pulls was the fact that he had “a good opportunity to play early” with Hicks’ departure after this season with the coaching staff recruiting Townsend for Hicks’ position.

    On film, Townsend shows his explosiveness off the snap and quick feet, proving his reported 4.63 40 time. Townsend also showed good physicality, unafraid to go head to head with the big guys on the line as well as with receivers in the slot. On the pass rush, he comes off the edge well and is able to elude blockers on his path to the quarterback. He also makes good use of a long wingspan to make tackles when one arm is occupied by a blocker. He also shows great natural athleticism, as shown in a game his junior year where he hurdled a lineman en route to a sack.

    Townsend also does a great job on the delayed blitz, which accounts for his high tackles-for-loss count.

    Though, a few times on his junior year highlight tape he seemed unwilling to finish tackles, applying one hit then letting his teammates bring the ball carrier down. While he can get away with this against high school competition, a tough college running back would make him look silly. He will have to bulk up in the spring and summer, but has the frame and work ethic to get it done.

    Overall, Townsend has raw talent and athletic ability that he has been able to get by on in high school. He described his current coaching staff as “offense-minded,” so it could be fun to see what Strong and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford are able to turn him into with some closer technique coaching. Strong has proved this season that he isn’t afraid to play- and even start- true freshman, so don’t be surprised to see Townsend getting quality reps next fall if he can show a good understanding of the defense.