james-conner-pitt-de

 

  1. The Pitt Panthers football team has been making news of late-and they haven’t even played a down yet. That’s because College Football is absolutely obsessed with Preseason hype, which truly isn’t a bad thing-especially if it involves preseason honors.
  2. Anyway, several Panthers have been placed on ‘Watch Lists’-which is pretty honorable because it’s a pre-ordered list of players who are in line to win prestigious postseason awards, which obviously is a feather in the cap of the respective player and the school.
  3. On Wednesday, running back James Conner, offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty and linebacker Mike Caprara are among 88 players from across the nation to be named to the watch list for the venerated Wuerffel Trophy, which annually honors college football’s top community servant. Named after 1996 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel.
  4. This award reminds me of MLB’s Roberto Clemente and NFL’s Walter Payton awards. It’s one thing to get an honor for what you do on the field, but when you earn one for what you do off it, is the makings of a well-rounded person. I think Conner deserves it after what he’s done after being diagnosed with (and overcoming) Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May. He was the guest of honor at a charity dinner organized by Dr. Stanley Marks that raised over $400,000 for cancer research. Now that’s honorable.
  5. Conner has also been placed on the Doak Walker Watch List, given to College Football’s best RB. He was also a who was a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award during his 2014 ACC Player of the Year campaign, as well as 2015. He was also placed on the Maxwell Award Watch list, given to the best offense player. I hope the young man has a huge season-and sweeps all of these awards.
  6. Here’s a list of the other Pitt Watch List honors: Outland Trophy: OL Adam Bisnowaty, OL Dorian Johnson, Chuck Bednarik Award: LB Ejuan Price, S Jordan Whitehead, Rimington Trophy: Officer, Ray Guy Award: P Ryan Winslow, Jim Thorpe Award: Whitehead. What an impressive list. I hope Pitt sweeps them all.
  7. One more thing about those Watch Lists: I think 2 Pitt players deserves to be in the most prestigious Watch List of them all: The Heisman Trophy. Conner and Whitehead deserves to be on that list. If Conner can get another 1,700-yard season, he definitely deserves it and Whitehead looked like 1997 Heisman winner Charles Woodson last season. If he does it again, the voters can’t overlook that. Anyway, just my opinion.
  8. As for the Pitt’s football team, there’s a lot of expectations on them after their impressive 8-5 record that landed them in the Military Bowl under first-year HC Pat Narduzzi. Now the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) hasn’t released their Preseason predictions yet, but magazines like Athlon’s Sports already have, and they have the Panthers in 4th place in the Coastal Division, behind North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech.
  9. I think that prediction’s about right. No need to expect them to win the Coastal Division after an 8-win season. (their highest total since 2010) The team looks pretty well-stacked except at one position-WR, where they will truly miss All-American Tyler Boyd, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. Summer Camp will determine who will try to fill his shoes.
  10. In Pitt basketball news, the team will host Eastern Michigan and Gardner-Webb in opening round games of the 22nd annual 2K Classic Benefitting Wounded Warrior Project before advancing to a championship round semifinal matchup with SMU at Madison Square Garden. It’s an awesome opportunity for New HC Kevin Stallings to make an impression on National TV, and Pitt loves playing at Madison Square Garden.
  11. As for Major League Baseball (MLB) the All-Star Game’s over (AL beat the NL 4-2) but something very special happened during that game that I want to make note of. MLB officially named their batting champion awards after former players that defined hitting excellence.
  12. If you think about it, there’s lots of players that MLB could’ve chosen, but they picked two of the best in Hall of Famers Rod Carew (AL-3,053 career hits) and the Late Tony Gwynn (NL-3,141 career hits). Those with the highest batting average in each league will get a trophy. Pretty awesome honor.
  13. As for the Pittsburgh Pirates (46-43) who played in the game, OF Starling Marte got a single and closer Mark Melancon recorded an out in the Mid-Summer Classic. Nice job fellas.
  14. As for the team itself, espn.com reported that starter Gerritt Cole is scheduled to return from the DL on Saturday. Perfect timing, if you ask me because the Pirates desperately need him to help out the struggling & young staff. The Pirates will open the 2nd half of the season vs. the Washington Nationals in the Nation’s Capital.
  15. Ask what is going on with the NY Yankees Front Office? Apparently, there are differences of opinions between GM Brian Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner. Apparently Cashman thinks the team should trade its best players and plan for the future, and the business side, which is led by owner Hal Steinbrenner and team president Randy Levine, who hold to the belief that the club is still in contention.
  16. The Yankees are currently 44-44, 7.5 games back from 1st place Baltimore (51-36) in the AL East. I can see both sides, because the Yankees are certainly not out of it, but I can’t see them getting past Toronto (51-40) and Boston (49-38) but the Yankees are like the Pittsburgh Steelers, they have too much pride to admit that they ever need to rebuild. And Hal Steinbrenner is a Steinbrenner. ‘Nuff said.
  17. Speaking of the Steelers, the weeks get closer for them to head to Latrobe for Training Camp. The expectations are high on this team as they were a first down away from advancing to the AFC Championship Game last season.
  18. I mentioned this before, but the success of this team will depend on being healthy and the improvement of their defense-especially the cornerbacks, where the Steelers hope that 1st round pick Artie Burns and last year’s second round pick Senquez Golson can catch on quick. I wish they would’ve kept Antwuan Blake or at least Brandon Boykin. Oh well.
  19. In addition to losing to Peyton Manning, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has also lost to another opponent: the courts as he once again tried to appeal his 4-game suspension due to 2014’s Deflategate. He fought it and won last season, but not this time, buddy.
  20. Congrats to Serena Williams for winning Wimbledon yet again. It’s her 7th Wimbledon title, and 22nd overall, tying her with Steffi Graff. She’s the best-period.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

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