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Hard work paves way to top spot for Erickson

first_imgFair weather Wisconsin football fans might have felt lost at the beginning of the season when they glanced at the Badgers’ depth chart and saw a group of receivers they didn’t recognize.Most fans had probably heard of Kenzel Doe because of his presence on kick returns and perhaps junior Jordan Fredrick, who had a contributing role to the offense his first two years. As for the other four receivers of the top six, probably not more than a confused look and a search of their career stats, or lack thereof. Those four receivers had a combined 10 catches in their careers, and two hadn’t even played in a game because they were incoming freshmen.With the heart of Wisconsin receiving Jared Abbrederis having graduated and moved onto the NFL, the phrase, “He went to Jared,” had become irrelevant. Now the clichéd statement had morphed into a question, who exactly would the ball go to in this year’s passing game?In stepped Alex Erickson, who could very well pass for Abbrederis were it not for the 86 on his uniform, and for more reasons than just his similar build.“[Erickson is] a lot like [Abbrederis],” Fredrick said. “Pretty much the same story, walking on a wide receiver and finally earning a spot with his hard work. He’s just gotten so much better where now he’s just so reliable like Abby was and it’s great to see a guy take Abby’s spot. I think he’s going to be huge for us.”As was the case with Abbrederis who walked on after high school, Erickson also made the choice to come play at Wisconsin despite not being recruited by the Badgers’ or really any other Division I program. Several Division II schools had expressed interest in Erickson, but the opportunity to play for the school more than an hour drive away from his hometown of Darlington, Wisconsin, was just too much to pass up.Erickson hadn’t even played wide out in high school for the Darlington Redbirds. Instead, he was the focal point of the offense as the quarterback, throwing for a 3,648 yards in his career while racking up an impressive 3,856 rushing yards in his four years on varsity.When he enrolled at UW, Erickson came to the football team as an athlete, unsure of where he would fit in, and even if he’d still be on offense.But given the opportunity to play receiver, Erickson took the chance even though it involved a big learning curve.“It was a hard transition. People don’t see how hard the wide receiver position is but there’s a lot of things that go into it. The footwork and technique took awhile to learn,” Erickson said. “I struggled at first and it was a long process.“But it’s just like anything. Keep working at it, you can master it.”Of course, it helped immensely that Erickson entered the wide receiving corps back in 2012 when Abbrederis was going into his junior year. Abbrederis had just finished the fifth best season for a sophomore receiver in 2011 with his 933 yards receiving, and gave Erickson one of the best receivers in UW history to try to figure out the new position from.“I learned a lot from him,” Erickson said. “We all have in the wide receiver room — but just his work ethic and the way he came out here every day and just busted his tail on every route whether he was getting the ball or not, the way he blocked, the way he does everything.”But transitioning to the new position wasn’t the least of Erickson’s worries. After his freshman season then head coach Bret Bielema bolted for Arkansas, and with Erickson not under scholarship at that point, his status came into jeopardy.Having to start from scratch to impress the new head coach Gary Andersen and the brand new coaching staff presented a big challenge, but Erickson ran with the new opportunity.“I was grateful for the opportunity that I got when [Bielema] was here. And then coach Andersen came, a new staff, so I had a fresh start. I just came in with a new focus, clean slate, nobody knew who you were, so you can make your own impression on new coaches,” he said.Erickson got a chance right away in the spring of his freshman year to make that impression on the new coaching staff. With multiple injuries to the core group of receivers, the reps increased and so too did the opportunity to leave a mark.Following that spring, Erickson saw his first action on the field last season and began to play more and more as the season progressed. In the final game of the regular season against Penn State a season ago, Erickson completed a then-career day with highs in receptions and yards with four grabs for 49 yards.But after this past Saturday’s win against Western Illinois in which he made 10 catches totaling 122 yards, Erickson showed that he’s capable of much more than a contributing role.“He’s fearless. He’s a competitor. He’s fast. I think Tanner feels very comfortable, as all our quarterbacks do, throwing the ball to Alex. It was just great to see him because he’s worked so hard since the bowl game to get this moment,” Andersen said following the game Sept. 6.What’s made Erickson so successful in the early going this season has a lot more to do with his consistency than anything else. In the early going against Western Illinois, UW struggled at times in the passing department with a drop from Reggie Love and a poorly run route by Rob Wheelwright that led to an interception.But Erickson’s strong fundamentals led to him being consistently targeted by quarterback Tanner McEvoy.“He’ll catch the ball if you throw it at him and that’s what we need,” McEvoy said.Erickson made it clear that there is still a good portion of the season left, and one solid game doesn’t guarantee him the role of number one receiver for the games to come.His work ethic on the practice field, again similar to Abbrederis, has backed up his word.“He’s not just having a huge game and now he’s coming out and loafing,” Fredrick said of Erickson. “He’s definitely coming out and working hard every day, which is what Abby was like. He learned a lot from Abby and that’s where he’s been a role model.”The future remains unknown for Erickson, but with the blue collar attitude, he’ll soon make those fair weather Wisconsin fans remember his name.“I’ve been working hard ever since I came here and I just got to continue to do that and just keep making plays when the opportunity comes,” Erickson said.last_img read more

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Kwesi Appiah: My provisional list was based on excellence

first_imgGhana’s coach Kwesi Appiah believes he selected players base on their performance and not the club they play forAppiah named his provisional squad by making some surprise inclusions in his preliminary 26-man World Cup team with only one local player making the squad in the person of Aduana stars goalkeeper Stephen Adams.The ex-captain of the Black Stars until his appointment led team Ghana to win Gold at the 2011 All African Games in Maputo and reiterated he chalked that feat based on the competency of his charges then. “I select players based on their competency to help the nation achieve its target and not where the player is playing. Even if the player is a local player and he is capable to help the said target to be achieved, why not l will pick him to represent the nation.“When you are chosen as the head coach, you are there for all Ghanaians and irrespective of wherever a player is playing so am looking at who will go to Brazil and stand in and defend the nation.” He added And on Stephen Adams, Appiah also said he deserved the call up because  he has proven himself. Meanwhile coach Kwesi Appiah goes down in history as the first Ghanaian coach to take the country to the world cup after two expatriates did it in 2006 and 2010.last_img read more

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VP candidate Kamala Harris left an ‘imprint’ while visiting Clippers, Doc Rivers says

first_imgHe recalled that she spent time with his team talking about a range of topics, and focusing especially on education.“I would say that the gist of the Kamala Harris conversation with our team was more about education,” Rivers said Thursday in a Zoom video conference before Thursday’s practice. “K-3 you learn to read, and 3-whatever else you read to learn, and how quickly you can fall behind. We had a very deep conversation on where we could help and so she left a big imprint on that team.”Chris Paul, the president of the NBA Players Association, was on that squad, Rivers recalled.Now Oklahoma City’s point guard, Paul offered his congratulations to Harris on Wednesday during a session with reporters. He also made note of the historic nature of her candidacy, which aligns with the Aug. 18, 1920 ratification of the 19th amendment, granting women the right to vote in the United States.“A huge shout out to Kamala Harris,” Paul said. “Unbelievable, in that it’s the centennial, the 100-year anniversary of the 19th amendment. So, to have a Black woman running as a vice president is a huge deal and, yes, it’s a big day.” Rivers has long encouraged his players to vote, and also to think and act on their political convictions.“I think it’s our job to educate not only ourselves, but our players,” said Rivers, who also railed Thursday against the growing controversy regarding the U.S. Postal system and voting by mail after President Donald Trump declared Thursday that he opposes additional funding for the mail service, acknowledging that his position would starve the agency of money Democrats contend it needs to process an anticipated surge in mail-in ballots on account of the coronavirus.“I don’t even call them team-builders, I just think … teaching our guys what they may not want to learn and may not want to get involved in can change.”Marcus Morris Sr., who joined the Clippers via trade in early February, and who is wearing “Education Reform” on the back of his jersey in the bubble, said Rivers’ message strikes a chord.“Doc is African-American male, so the relationship is a little different … him actually being in these situations before,” Morris said. “He’s been in different riots, he sat down and told us about the story about the Rodney King thing and situations he’s been in, so definitely relatable.“Doc is unique coach, he’s been around a while … and the knowledge that he’s giving us and the way he stands in front of everything and speaks his piece, it’s definitely great for us, as African-American males.”HARRELL REMAINS OUTThe Clippers will play their final seeding game Friday before the playoffs without Patrick Beverley (strained left calf), Landry Shamet (sprained left foot) — and Montrezl Harrell.Earlier this week, Rivers expressed hope that Harrell would be available to play this week, but on the Clippers’ injury report released Thursday afternoon, the team continued to list him as out under the “self-isolating” distinction for players who are away from the team or quarantining.Harrell returned to the bubble early this week after leaving on July 17, and taking time, with his team’s support, to mourn the death of his grandmother.The Clippers, 4-3 in Orlando without the Sixth Man of the Year candidate, will face Dallas in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, which could begin as soon as Monday.Thunder (44-27) vs. Clippers (48-23)When: Friday, 3:30 p.m.Where: Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FloridaTV: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, ESPN Asked Wednesday what he thought about Joe Biden’s pick for running mate, Doc Rivers gushed, “It’s just beautiful.”On Tuesday, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee answered the most highly anticipated question of his campaign when he announced that California Sen. Kamala Harris will join him on the ticket. If the Biden-Harris candidacy is successful, she would become the first woman, the first Black American and the first South Asian American to serve as the nation’s vice president.“We’ve had our first Black president in President Obama,” said the Clippers coach, who a few weeks ago spoke about his relationship with the late civil rights icon John Lewis. “And now we have a chance to have not only a Black vice president, but a woman as well. Those are two things that we can cross.”Furthermore, Rivers said Thursday, the day after his team clinched the No. 2 seed with the best regular-season finish in franchise history, he gained a good sense of who Harris is when she visited with the Clippers a few seasons ago.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

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Deebo Samuel injury update: 49ers offense takes a hit with WR’s broken foot

first_imgWon’t miss season but expect a stint on PUP. https://t.co/w2XdtwcFpx— David J. Chao – ProFootballDoc (@ProFootballDoc) June 18, 2020Same fracture led to Trent Taylor’s surgery last preseason, then ensuing infections sidelined him all season. #49ers need Deebo to heal well for another Super Bowl run https://t.co/6r4XHa8CPZ— Cam Inman (@CamInman) June 18, 2020According to Healthline, a Jones fracture is “a break between the base and shaft of the fifth metatarsal bone of (the) foot. This is the bone on the outside of the foot, which is connected to the pinkie toe. It’s the most common type of metatarsal fracture.” The site also claims the recovery time for surgery on a Jones fracture is seven weeks or fewer with weight being kept off the injured foot for up to six weeks.Based on a tweet from Samuel himself, it seems he expects to be back on the field in 10 weeks. In that case, he would return before the start of the season.10 weeks I’m back better than the deebo you seen before 🙏🏾— UnoCaptain‼️❌ (@19problemz) June 18, 2020The 49ers and all NFL teams are scheduled to report to training camp late next month, and the league plans to start the regular season on time (Sept. 10) despite coronavirus-related complications.MORE: Why Kyle Shanahan’s extension matters Samuel, who had a team-high five catches for 39 yards against Kansas City in February, also broke a Super Bowl record for rushing yards by a wide receiver with 53 on three carries.If Samuel has to miss an extended amount of regular-season time in 2020, it will be a big blow to an offense that often utilizes misdirection and play-action. The speedy Samuel is a big part of coach Kyle Shanahan’s game planning in that regard.The 49ers did draft Brandon Aiyuk, a similarly built wide receiver, in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft in part to fill the void left by free-agent departure Emmanuel Sanders. Samuel’s injury suggests the Arizona State product might need to be a bigger part of San Francisco’s offense early in the season than initially expected. A player who might have won Super Bowl 54 MVP had the 49ers held off the Chiefs in the fourth quarter of that game could start the 2020 season on the shelf.Deebo Samuel, who as a rookie last season led all San Francisco wide receivers in receptions and receiving yards, suffered a broken foot — specifically, a Jones fracture — during a throwing session Tuesday in Nashville with his teammates, according to NFL.com. The 24-year-old had surgery on his foot Thursday.last_img read more