Michael Phelps. Peyton Manning. Shawn Johnson. Ezekiel Elliott.
Before these athletes became global mega-stars, they all were given the prestigious AAU Sullivan Award. Every year since 1930, this award has been given to the best amateur athlete in the nation and it’s time to add another name to the illustrious list.
The semi-finalist voting round is now open and it’s up to you to decide this year’s winner! Voting is open until March 20 and you can vote once every 24 hours.
Let’s highlight each of this year’s semi-finalists.
With college football season finally here, let’s talk about what you really care about — those teams with the best shot to make it to the playoffs. So who will be the last four standing? Here are the 10 teams you need to watch:
1. Alabama (AP Rank 1)
Number one is no surprise. Nick Saban’s squad lost a ton of key players to the NFL last year, but, like always, the roster is stacked with elite prospects groomed to take their place. Watch for dangerous running QB Jalen Hurts to improve as a passer this year, junior wideout Calvin Ridley to contend for numerous awards, and for the Crimson Tide to hold on to the number one seed.
2. Ohio State (AP Rank 2)
Urban Meyer and co. have their own incredible recruiting class and they’ll be put to good use. The Buckeyes will be led by experienced senior J.T. Barrett on offense, but the real gem of the team is the defensive line. Linemen Tyquan Lewis, Nick Bosa, and Sam Hubbard should be wreaking havoc in opposing backfields all season long.
3. Florida State (AP Rank 3)
FSU was dealt a major blow in 2016 when safety Derwin James missed almost the entire year with a knee injury. The versatile, athletic playmaker may just be the best defensive player in college football, and the whole unit will improve drastically with him on the field in 2017. On the other side of the ball, QB Deondre Francois will look to build off of a solid freshman season without the help of do-everything RB Dalvin Cook, who is now a Minnesota Viking.
4. Clemson (AP Rank 5)
This may seem high for a team that seemingly lost key players at every position, but there’s still talent across the board. Junior QB Kelly Bryant has the biggest shoes to fill, but with great receiving options like Deon Cain and Hunter Renfrow still around, the Tigers don’t need him to be Deshaun Watson 2.0. They host FSU on November 11 in a game that could have major playoff implications.
5. Penn State (AP Rank 6)
Remember the name Saquon Barkley come awards season. The electrifying Nittany Lion RB is primed for a huge year. QB Trace McSorley and TE Mike Gesicki are no slouches either. The date to pay attention to: October 28. If they want to head to the playoffs, they’ll have to get the W when they square off against the Buckeyes in Columbus.
6. USC (AP Rank 4)
QB Sam Darnold and RB Ronald Jones give the Trojans a formidable backfield and guarantee that this offense can keep score with anyone. The defense is led by junior LB Cameron Smith and is full of solid players, but USC’s schedule will be a beast. They’ll have plenty of difficult tests, including battles against Stanford, Texas, and Washington State.
7. Washington (AP Rank 8)
From WR John Ross to the formidable secondary trio of Kevin King, Sidney Jones, and Budda Baker, the Huskies lost a lot of talent to the NFL. But this year’s team still has a star signal caller in junior Jake Browning and plenty of young talent to pick up the pieces at corner and safety. Look for Chris Petersen’s team to be in the hunt all season long.
8. Wisconsin (AP Rank 9)
The schedule sets up very favorably for the Badgers this season. Besides a Nov. 18 battle against Michigan, this unit will almost undoubtedly be favored in every game they play. If Coach Chryst can get a step up in performance from sophomore QB Alex Hornibrook to complement their always-formidable running attack, the offense should be solid. And ‘solid’ is all this team will need on that end if the Wisconsin defense can perform as well as they did in 2016.
9. Michigan (AP Rank 11)
Only one starter returns on the Wolverine defense. 11 Michigan alumni heard their name called during this April’s NFL Draft. Simply put, Jim Harbaugh lost a lot of quality players heading into 2017. But the cupboard is far from bare. QB Wilton Speight is back after a solid year one, sophomore RB Chris Evans leads a great running back group, and the roster, as a whole, is loaded with five-star talent.
10. Auburn (AP Rank 12)
Former Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham will be given the keys on offense and he’s got a lot to work with. Sophomore WR Nate Craig-Myers and RB Kamryn Pettway should keep the points and yards flowing. The defense returns a lot of big-time playmakers and should be stout once again. The Tigers have a crucial early match up on September 9 when they go on the road to face Clemson.
Did we miss someone? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @Eastbay. No matter how things shake out, one thing is certain: it’s going to be an amazing season.
The focus of football seems to be on the beginning of training camp for the NFL, but those headed back to campus and finishing up summer school can attest, there is some exciting football on the way from the NCAA.
Today we have a look at the Nike NCAA College Replica Football Jerseys. Dozens of teams are available in this feminine-fitting design. From the soon to be expanded Pac-10 such as the Cal Golden Bears, to the Longhorns of the Big 12, to the Tarheels of North Carolina, schools from across the country are now available.
Available now: Women’s Nike NCAA College Replica Football Jerseys
That was the theme of Tuesday night’s showdown for the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship. After 77 games of beating their opponents with a near 33 point differential, the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies were in for the fight of their streak. In their way? The ladies of the Standford Cardinal, who handed Connecticut their last defeat in the 2008 National Semifinals.
For the first twenty minutes, the Huskies looked like anything but a team on the verge of back-to-back perfect seasons. They scored just 12 points on 5-for-29 (17.2%) shooting. The 12 points marked the lowest first-half scoring output ever in a championship game and the fewest in the history of the Huskies program. About the poor first half performance, Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma said, “It was one of the few times I can ever remember being speechless. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.” The silver lining in it all was that they managed to hold Stanford to just 20 first half points. Meaning, a quick run could get them right back in the game.
That quick run became a reality when the Lady Huskies stormed out of the gate in the second half. Led by 5 baskets from junior sensation Maya Moore, Connecticut went on a 17-2 run to take a 29-22 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the game. UConn senior Tina Charles complimented Moore’s offensive outburst by playing her trademark stifling defense. The 6-foot-4 center grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked 6 shots, and held Stanford center Jayne Appel to 0-for-12 shooting.
After charging to take a 38-27 lead at the 7:42 mark, the Connecticut women never looked back. The game was never any closer than 5 points the rest of the way. The poise of a champion was shown, as there was an answer for every potential Stanford run. When the clock ran down to 0:00, the Lady Huskies celebrated something that they haven’t in the last two seasons; a single digit win. This time, they didn’t win just because they were the better of the two teams on the court. They won because they showed more heart, patience, and resilience than anybody in the world. Second consecutive National Championship and 78-0 perfect record in tact.
Imperfect perfection. A phrase that seemingly contradicts itself. Nevertheless, these Connecticut women lended a bit of validity to its concept on Tuesday night. They didn’t play the game they wanted to play, but rather, the game they had to play. For that reason, these women can hold their heads high and say, for at least 78 nights, perfection was possible.
Look perfect in your own University of Connecticut fan gear: Huskies Fan Gear
photo via yahoo