Flathead's Trae Vasquez Picks Cal Poly Wrestling – Flathead Beacon

Trae Vasquez lay on the turf and was crying.

It was Oct. 13, 2017, and on the newly installed field turf at Legends Stadium, on a routine attempt to make a tackle on a routine kickoff, the Flathead High School senior’s bright future suddenly clouded.

“It was honestly one of the scariest things that’s happened in my life,” Vasquez said on May 1, just days after being cleared to return to competition following major left knee surgery and six months of rehab. He had to learn to walk again, to ride a bike again and had gained a new perspective, staring down the kind of adversity he’d rarely faced in football, in wrestling, in the classroom or in just about anything else he’d ever tried.

Vasquez has (or had) the kind of resume that makes college coaches drool. He proudly carries a 4.0 grade-point average, is an all-state football player, a two-time state champion wrestler and a five-time track and field state placer. He is devoted to his family, his studies and his training, so much so that when healthy he would regularly rise before dawn to squeeze in an early morning workout.

So it wasn’t surprising that, before Oct. 13, Vasquez was one of the most sought-after wrestling recruits in the country.

“Going through football season, I was getting calls and texts from coaches (all the time),” Vasquez said. “But when I dealt with my surgery it went away. I kind of felt abandoned … from being a highly recruited kid to pretty much falling off the face of the earth was hard.”

Not everyone left, however, and after he watched his teammates win a second consecutive state wrestling title in February, he still had a handful of Division I options. One of those was at Cal Poly, where Vasquez committed on April 30.

Two weeks earlier, the Kalispell native flew to San Luis Obispo, California for his official visit. He spent an afternoon on the beach and stayed with an Oregonian who agreed that the area’s rolling hills were reminiscent of the mountains back home. Fate, or perhaps a skilled recruiter, led him to breakfast at the Big Sky Cafe, and Vasquez even appreciated the program’s blue-collar facilities.

“Everything I saw I really liked,” Vasquez said. “Their weight room and their wrestling room are nothing fancy, but that’s how I like it — you get in there and you grind.”

Flathead’s Trae Vasquez grimaces as he lifts weights on May 4, 2018. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Vasquez called his dad, Rich, less than 24 hours after he arrived in California.

“I said, ‘Dad, I’ve got to go here,’” he said. “I love all the guys, I love all the coaches, I’m on the West Coast; I can’t find one negative thing about this. They believed in me and I believed in what they were telling me. It felt like home.”

Cal Poly’s reputation as an elite academic school didn’t hurt either, nor did the fact that the Mustangs’ wrestling team posted the highest GPA of any men’s program on campus during the winter quarter. Vasquez plans to study kinesiology as an undergrad, and his experience over the last year has led him to consider a future as an orthopedic surgeon.

“We’ve talked about going D-I but we were always focused on grades — wrestling being a means to an end,” Rich Vasquez said. “All the work that he’s done, to get this type of education is everything he’s ever dreamed about.”

Vasquez’s commitment is a heartwarming end to what has been a trying last six months. After surgery, Vasquez needed help putting on his socks in the morning, and for weeks afterward his dad and his younger siblings — both of whom are also acclaimed wrestlers — would spend their evenings in Trae’s bedroom, watching movies together while the eldest child iced his throbbing knee.

“There were definitely days where I was super depressed … there were some dark days,” Vasquez said. “It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through in my life, but I’m way stronger for it and I’m appreciative for it.”

Ever the competitor, Vasquez boasted that he received a clean bill of health one day ahead of schedule, and he will run for the Flathead track team starting at the Archie Roe Invitational on May 5. He leaves in June for Cal Poly to begin training for July’s Junior Nationals in Fargo, and after that his attention turns fully to Cal Poly’s difficult schedule as a member of the Pac-12 Conference.

And while Vasquez says he harbors no ill will toward the coaches and schools that went silent last year, a chip on his shoulder can’t be something his future opponents look forward to seeing.

“I’m super grateful that (Cal Poly) never gave up on me and they believed in me,” Vasquez said. “I don’t have any harsh feelings, but on the mat I’ll show (the other schools) what they’re missing.”




The Lonely Existence of Winnipeg Jets Fans in Atlanta – New York Times

“I’m man enough to admit that I cried,” said Austin Kitchens, 24, who had just completed his junior year of high school when the Thrashers moved.

His friends joke that he is a northerner living in the South, loving hockey as he does. Heading into that first season without the Thrashers, Kitchens tried not to like the Jets. He was jealous that Winnipeg could cheer for his team, for his players. Then he started scanning message boards and watching preseason games on the internet and following Jets reporters on social media and traveling to Nashville and Tampa, Fla., for games.

Over the Jets’ seven seasons, Kitchens estimated, he has missed maybe a dozen games on television. Whitlock has rarely missed a game on TV or radio since he re-engaged with hockey after a few years of indifference. He often works nights, setting up events, which is conducive to the later start times of Jets games, but he tries to watch with Claire — born on a Jets off-day, naturally — because Winnipeg tends to win when she does. Except for that double-overtime loss at Nashville in Game 2.

“She fell asleep,” said Whitlock, turning to Claire. “Don’t worry — it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault.”

Whitlock hopes she will grow up to love the Jets as much as he does, which is even more than he loved the Thrashers. Hockey, fast-paced and physical, appealed to him more than football or baseball ever did. When the Thrashers left, he missed having a rooting interest.

“I felt kind of like a guy without a soul, you know?” Whitlock said.

The thought of adopting a perennial contender, like Chicago or Pittsburgh, repulsed him. So did switching to Nashville, the team closest to Atlanta. The Predators capitalized on the void by offering weekend ticket packages to abandoned Thrashers fans. They included discounted hotel rates and a gas card, and Nat Harden, the senior vice president for tickets and youth hockey, said the Predators sold almost 150 packages.

One went to David Pugliese, 58, a former Thrashers season-ticket holder from Milton, Ga., who said the team’s departure topped the list of disappointments in his life. Pugliese attended several Predators playoff games last year and drove up for Game 5 Saturday in Nashville against the franchise he once supported.

“I think it would be much weirder if it was the same roster, but the roster has changed so much,” said Pugliese, noting that only five players on the Jets were part of the Thrashers organization. “There’s really no mixed emotions.”

Had Matt McReynolds, 26, followed his impulse, he, too, might have changed his allegiance. Angry at the league and at Commissioner Gary Bettman, who he felt did not do enough to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta, McReynolds tried cheering for Nashville. It felt strange, artificial.

In 2012, about halfway through the Jets’ first season back in Winnipeg, McReynolds had his left shoulder tattooed with the Thrashers’ logo. Gradually he began watching the Jets again, sucked in by players he liked who were now wearing a new insignia on their chests.


Lipman was among the white-clad crowd for Winnipeg’s playoff opener on April 11, when Scheifele scored the first goal.

John Woods/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

“Now,” he said, “it’s pretty much my kid, my wife and Jets hockey.”

As a hockey fan in Georgia, McReynolds already felt isolated and lonely; he has never met another Jets fan that he did not convert to the team himself. It seemed natural to devote himself to a team in a city he has never visited, that plays in an arena whose smells and sounds and sights he cannot conjure.

Once, he said, a customer at a Publix supermarket in Conyers, Ga., where McReynolds lives, spotted him wearing Jets gear and called him a traitor. When Whitlock wears his Jets hat, with a fighter jet atop a red maple leaf, people ask why he supports the Canadian air force. When he wears his Thrashers hat, with a bird gripping a hockey stick, people ask whether it’s a skateboarding company.

Without that kinship, Kitchens said, rooting for the Jets feels like a private endeavor.

“You’re not about to go to work and say, ‘How about those Jets last night?’ ” said Kitchens, a union pipe fitter from Stockbridge, Ga. “They’d be like, ‘Who?’ ”

Lipman had long wanted to visit Winnipeg. Seeking a more communal experience, he booked airfare and a hotel room for the Jets’ playoff opener before the regular season ended, betting that they would secure home-ice advantage in the first round against Minnesota.

To score a ticket to Game 1, Lipman, an interventional radiologist, cold-called another one in Winnipeg, Brian Hardy, and presented his bona fides: a Thrashers season-ticket holder with a closet full of Jets jerseys who watches practically every game on his laptop or phone.

A day later, Hardy invited Lipman to sit with him and his family, but on one condition: that Lipman give grand rounds at the hospital. For the occasion, Lipman wore a navy Jets jersey — his dress blues, he said — and in a show of gratitude, was presented with a trove of Jets paraphernalia.

“I got all kinds of nice Winnipeg booty,” Lipman said.

An unopened Jacob Trouba bobblehead sat behind the bar in his basement, where Lipman watched Game 3 on Tuesday on a television topped by another bobblehead, that of Jets center Mark Scheifele. From his seat in the arena, Hardy called Lipman on FaceTime, letting him absorb the pregame atmosphere.

His blazer long discarded, draped over an easy chair, Lipman agonized as Nashville scored the first three goals (you’ve gotta have that!), rejoiced as Winnipeg scored the next four (that’s more like it!) and kicked the coffee table when the Predators equalized in the third period.

With six minutes remaining, he rose from the couch to wave his “We Are Winnipeg” rally towel and rub the Scheifele bobblehead for good luck. A minute later, a Scheifele shot caromed to Blake Wheeler — a former Thrasher — whose snipe from a sharp angle proved the winning goal in a 7-4 victory.

With Winnipeg one win from the conference finals, a playoff round neither incarnation of the franchise has reached, Lipman was thinking about his next potential trips — to Las Vegas, maybe, with his son, Jonathan, if the Golden Knights also advance.

But, really, he wants to return to Winnipeg, to revel with fans who lost their beloved team and grieved its absence and are now celebrating the best hockey they’ve ever seen. People dressed in white but dreaming of silver, of the Stanley Cup, just like him.

Continue reading the main story

NFL Draft a big hit in Dallas – Packers.com

On the first Saturday of every month, Mark will write about a topic of interest to Packers fans and the organization, and then answer five fan questions. Fans are encouraged to email Mark with their name and hometown at: MurphyTakes5@packers.com.

They say that everything is bigger in Texas. With regard to the NFL Draft, that is certainly true. The draft was held in Dallas this year after stints in Philadelphia and Chicago, and the league set a record with almost 300,000 people requesting tickets. It was also the first stadium-based draft, so it had a much different feel than the drafts in Philadelphia and Chicago. The NFL Experience in Dallas was the largest ever, with over 900,000 square feet of space (with a record 50 exhibits). The draft has also become a major media event. Thanks in part to the fact that the draft was broadcast on FOX this year, a record number of people watched it. The draft brings together college football and the NFL, as college fans want to see where their favorite players will end up. Fantasy football also contributes to the popularity of the draft, and the intrigue involving what quarterbacks would be drafted in the first round this year helped as well.

Given the popularity of the draft, almost all NFL cities are anxious to host it. The league has announced the five finalists to host the draft in 2019 and 2020 – Cleveland/Canton, Kansas City, Nashville, Denver and Las Vegas. The league is expected to announce the two winners soon. We had applied to host the draft in those years, but decided instead to focus on hosting the draft in 2021 or 2022. By then, the new exhibition hall (replacing the Brown County Arena) should be built and Titletown will be much further developed. It is a very competitive process, and we think this will give us our best chance.

Now, on to your questions….

Shelly from Butternut, WI     

I was at the Tailgate Tour stop in Medford last year. I really enjoyed having the chance to see the current players and alumni up close. I was wondering, how do you decide where to stop on the Tour?

Thanks for coming out to the Tailgate Tour, Shelly. The Tailgate Tour is something we’re very proud of and I think underscores the uniqueness of the Packers organization. We try to spread the Tour out across the state over time. This year was the 13th tour, and, if you look at a map of all the places we’ve been in the 13 years, we’ve made it to every nook and cranny of the state. We’ve also been to the U.P. and Iowa. We try to get to Milwaukee and Madison on a fairly regular basis. Cathy Dworak, our director of community outreach and player/alumni relations, does a great job of planning the tour every year. The tour serves two main purposes. First, to thank our fans for their great support. We also raise money for charities in the five communities we stop in on the tour. We set a record this year by raising over $380,000.

Mark from Milwaukee

Hi Mark, I am a Milwaukee gold package season-ticket holder and want to express my displeasure with another Thursday night preseason game. For those of us that live in Milwaukee, the suburbs of west Milwaukee, or anywhere else in southeast Wisconsin, a Thursday night game is very difficult to attend. With the long commute to Green Bay, to truly enjoy the game and the full experience, it requires us to take two days off of work. I am thankful to the organization for being able to retain season tickets and continue to have the opportunity to attend games after all the games were moved to Green Bay, but I think the organization should do more to assure that the gold package preseason Shrine Game is on a Friday night or Saturday night. I have no issue taking two days off work to attend a regular-season game if it would fall on a Thursday, but don’t really want to use some of my vacation days to watch a bunch of backups in a preseason game. I know many other people who have gold package tickets, and they feel the same way. We all want to attend ALL the games, and would really appreciate if the organization took this into account in the future.

Thanks for your email, Mark. I appreciate your thoughts on the preseason schedule and understand your concern about Thursday night games. I often hear from fans regarding the scheduling of preseason games. There are a number of factors that go into determining when we play our home preseason games, but our first priority is to ensure that our team is well-prepared for the start of the season. First, under NFL policy, teams can report to training camp 15 days before the first preseason game. We typically try to play the first preseason game on a Thursday to give us as much time as possible with our players in training camp. As you know, we are playing our first two preseason games on Thursday nights. We wanted the second game on a Thursday to have a full week to prepare for the game in order to replicate our preparation for games in the regular season. Also, we avoid playing on Friday nights so we don’t conflict with high school games. We made the Pittsburgh game a gold package game because we thought the Steelers would be an attractive opponent, and the starters are likely to play more in the second as opposed to the first preseason game. Thanks again for your input, as well as your support of the Packers over the years.

A question from Jason

You guys f….. disgust me! I can’t believe you traded down in the first round. Another letdown season coming. (We actually can’t post all of Jason’s question as it was filled with words that are inappropriate for our readers, but he wasn’t pleased with our draft decisions. Jason stated that we missed some opportunities to pick certain players, we let some players go, and we are wasting the prime years of Aaron Rodgers’ career. He also stated that his opinion means nothing to us, and it has been difficult being a fan of the Packers.)

Not sure there’s a question here, Jason, but I do appreciate you letting me know your thoughts on the draft. You really can’t evaluate the quality of a draft for at least two years, but, I was very pleased with way Brian Gutekunst handled his first draft. He was calm and confident, and it was clear to me that the situation was not too big for him. I thought the two trades in the first round really worked to our advantage. We ended up with a player we liked – Jaire Alexander – at a position of need, and gave up a third-round pick for a first-round pick next year. Thanks again for your input.

Jim from Chicago

I read that the league brought together a number of special teams coaches to discuss the kickoff. Do you think the league will get rid of the kickoff?

Great question, Jim. As we’ve discussed here before, the kickoff is by far the most dangerous play in the game. You are five times more likely to suffer a concussion on a kickoff than a play from scrimmage. The kickoff is so dangerous because the collisions are often at full speed. I was part of the meeting this week in New York. The discussions were very productive. The special teams coaches came forward with a number of recommendations that should make the play safer. The recommendations included eliminating the two-man wedge, eliminating the running start for the kickoff coverage team, and requiring eight players on the return team to be within 15 yards of their restraining line. The changes should make the play more like the punt, where blockers are running alongside the players on the coverage unit. We’re very hopeful that these changes will result in fewer injuries on a kickoff, but we will continue to monitor this closely. We’re hopeful that these change will allow us to keep the kickoff in the game. It is one of the most exciting plays in the game. The proposed changes will be voted on by the owners at a league meeting later this month.

Raphael from Madison, WI

I took my family to Titletown this winter. My kids loved the tubing hill and the skating trail. I was wondering how you thought the first winter at Titletown went.

I’m glad you enjoyed your visit to Titletown, Raphael. Overall, we were pleased with the winter season at Titletown. Since it was the first year of operations, we learned a lot throughout the winter. The weather certainly had a big impact on the tubing and skating. If it was too warm, we couldn’t make snow or ice (the tubing hill was more temperature sensitive than the skating trail). We also had a number of days where it was so cold (below zero) that people did not want to tube or skate. When it was that cold, it was really challenging for our employees working on top of the hill. We also encountered some problems with the tube return. I thought the Winter Jubilee, with the light show, was very popular. I’m confident that we will improve the experience for people at Titletown next winter. Of course, with Murphy’s Law, we closed the tubing hill just days before the biggest snowstorm in Green Bay in over 130 years.


Hooker Ricky Riccitelli now critical to the Hurricanes' Super Rugby title aspirations – Stuff.co.nz

Ricky Riccitelli has become pretty important to the Hurricanes' title hopes.


Ricky Riccitelli has become pretty important to the Hurricanes’ title hopes.

It’s impossible to overstate Ricky Riccitelli’s importance to the Hurricanes right now.

What an embarrassment of hooking riches, we’d said. Dane Coles, Asafo Aumua and then Riccitelli if required. Well, he’s going to be required all right.

Having started every game so far this season, Riccitelli’s not about to get a rest thanks to confirmation Coles and Aumua are done for the campaign. Coles can’t straighten his injured knee, let alone run, and some provincial rugby for Wellington now looms as his next playing assignment.

Prop Alex Fidow is the latest Hurricane to have his Super Rugby season ended by injury.


Prop Alex Fidow is the latest Hurricane to have his Super Rugby season ended by injury.

With Aumua gone for three months, following wrist surgery, Riccitelli’s continued fitness suddenly becomes rather critical to the Hurricanes’ hopes of Super Rugby title success.

* Blues keep the streak alive
* Canes blow away Lions
* Jaguares upset Chiefs
​* Mo’unga stands up for Crusaders


Flanker Ardie Savea was among the Hurricanes' more prominent ball runners against the Lions.


Flanker Ardie Savea was among the Hurricanes’ more prominent ball runners against the Lions.

“He’s done a really good job for us this year and we’ve got confidence in [reserve hooker] James O’Reilly,” Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said.

Thankfully Riccitelli’s got a few runs on the board in this regard, having stepped in for Coles regularly during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. 

As for O’Reilly, he must be partly cursing his luck. The Hutt Old Boys Marist man has had to head off to Bay of Plenty for regular provincial rugby, so leapt at the chance to sign with Wellington for this year and next.

Now he’s going to have Coles and Aumua for company, once that competition starts.

They’ll both be desperate to play, along with tighthead prop Alex Fidow. He’s done for this Super Rugby season too after snapping a ligament in his big toe.

Illness kept Fidow out of the round-one loss to the Bulls, before he scored a try on debut as the Hurricanes beat the Jaguares in Buenos Aires. An eye-socket fracture saw him spend six weeks on the sideline and now he needs surgery on his toe, after getting injured during his club rugby comeback.

Had Fidow been fit he probably would’ve played off the bench in Saturday’s 28-19 win over the Lions. Chris Eves had to pack on the, relatively unfamiliar, tighthead side of the scrum instead, with limited success.

From 28-7 up, the Hurricanes battled for good set-piece ball and, instead of going on and winning by 40, looked pretty ordinary. Having struggled against the Sunwolves the previous week, the side are in need of a more convincing performance.

It’s a worry, then, that they’re off to play one of the more terrifying teams in the competition.

The Blues, fresh from Saturday’s 24-21 win over the Waratahs in Sydney, are hardly the most accomplished side around. But they boast some freakish individual players with the ability to embarrass even the best defences.

Pity the team that goes to Eden Park and gets themselves dusted by 20 or 30 points.

“At some stage that machine’s going to click and they’re going to get away,” said Boyd.

“They’re strong, they’re physical and they’ve got a good set piece. They’re playing without luck at the moment and it’s going to turn at some stage. No doubt.”

 – Stuff

Ukrainian tennis star Marta Kostyuk loses in first round in Madrid – Kyiv Post

Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk returns the ball to France’s Caroline Garcia during the WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany, on April 26, 2018.

Photo by AFP

Ukrainian young tennis star Marta Kostyuk has lost to Spanish Lara Arruabarrena in the first round of the Premier Mandatory tournament in Madrid that took place on May 5.

It was her first WTA Premier Mandatory, which is one the most prestigious type of tournament in women’s tennis, with 15-year-old Kostyuk having become the youngest player to compete in Madrid. She is ranked 134 in the world.

The play lasted 100 minutes ending with the match score 3-6, 6-4, 2-6.

Kostyuk started the first set with an early break, leading 2-0. The next games were intense battles between the players, so they finished the set with 3-6 score.

But the match wasn’t over for the Ukrainian: Kostyuk has confidently won the second set, ending at 6-4.

The third set started with both players being nervous, but the score was equal (2-2) at first. Then the Spanish player took the lead, and the third set ended with the score of 2-6 in favor of the Spanish athlete.

However, Ukrainian interest in Madrid tournament is not over yet. Two leading Ukrainian tennis players – Elina Svitolina and Lesia Tsurenko – are also competing in Madrid. Svitolina has already won in the first round, beating French player Alizé Cornet 6-2, 6-2.

Peterson: Kyle Kempt's return gives Iowa State a top 3 Big 12 quarterback – DesMoinesRegister.com


Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt is returning for another season.
Tommy Birch/The Register

If Will Grier doesn’t finish 2018 as the Big 12 Conference’s top quarterback, then he either became injured, his receivers dropped balls, West Virginia has what would be a surprisingly bad season, or…

Baker Mayfield’s replacement at Oklahoma is better than advertised.

While it’s not the Year of the Quarterback (for a change) in this league of offenses that still freely flow, guys at the position won’t exactly be horrible.

Grier already is mentioned as a high 2019 NFL Draft pick. There’s so much buzz around Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray that you wonder if he’s the second-coming of last season’s Heisman Trophy winner and 2018’s No. 1 draft selection.

Iowa State didn’t spend lots of time and energy to convince the NCAA that Kyle Kempt deserves an additional senior season just so he could signal in plays to Zeb Noland.

That Grier-Murray-Kempt trifecta — it rules the Big 12’s 2018 Top of the Quarterback Class.

As we enter another off-season devoid of expansion speculation and all the stuff misinformed outsiders use to incorrectly claim the Big 12 is a troubled league — what else is there to talk about?

For our purposes, it started a couple weeks ago with the Des Moines Register forecasting Oklahoma’s Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill and Iowa State’s David Montgomery to be the Big 12’s top three running backs.

Now, our occasional series on position rankings focuses on Big 12 quarterback.


1.  WILL GRIER: The Big 12’s 2018 MVP?

Strong-armed. Mobile. Wonderful receivers. A rushing attack that’s not expected to set the conference afire…

There’s a reason Grier’s team follows Oklahoma in most 2018 rankings that are starting to hit the Internet.

At 6-foot-2 by 214 pounds, he’s a bit on the slight end of prototypical quarterbacks, but he makes up for it with mobility that allows him to pass outside the pocket.

He’s got Gary Jennings and David Sills staring at him on every passing play, and oh by the way, both were Top 10 Big 12 receivers last season. The Mountaineers are the only team with returning receivers like that — Jennings led the league in receptions and was fifth in yards, while Sills was ninth and eighth.

Therefore, something crazy must happen for Grier not to be the Big 12’s best.


2.  KYLER MURRAY: Oklahoma’s heir to Baker Mayfield

This guy’s not only versatile in what he does on the football field, he hit two home runs on the same day of Oklahoma’s spring football game.

The Texas A&M transfer didn’t get a lot of time last season while playing behind Mayfield, but when Murray saw the field, he was good.

He completed 18 of his 21 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns. He’s a solid runner, too, and expect a smooth transition after studying under coach Lincoln Riley and Mayfield the past two seasons.

What if Kyler Murray, an outfield power-hitter, is selected in a seductive round of the June 4-6 Major League Baseball Draft?

Riley told reporters at the spring game that he’s talked to Murray about his sports future. He was quoted as saying they’re “comfortable about where we’re at.”

What’s that mean?

Reporters close to the situation expect Murray to be OU’s starting quarterback in the season-opening game against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 1.


3.  KYLE KEMPT: Iowa State’s giant killer

He’s 5-3 as a Big 12 Conference starter since being thrust to the top of the depth chart before last season’s game against Oklahoma. His 66.3 percent completion rate last season was a school season record. He had at least one touchdown pass in every game he started.

And this forever will be etched in Cyclones football history: ISU 38, OU 31.

After throwing just two passes before that game, Kempt led Iowa State to what many considered the biggest win in school history — given the circumstances of the week and that the game was played at Oklahoma.

He doesn’t have the strongest arm in America. With big-play receivers like Hakeem Butler, Matthew Eaton and Deshaunte Jones, you don’t have to heave a 60-yarder in the air. Get the ball to those guys, and then let their quickness and athleticism take over.


4.  SAM EHLINGER: Texas’ hulking quarterback

He’s one of the sturdiest in the conference — and the 6-3, 230-pounder has the ability to use every bit of that while either passing or running. That size especially makes him a threat in the red zone.

His deal, however, is a stern early-season schedule that includes games at Maryland, at home against Southern Cal and TCU, at Kansas State and against Oklahoma in Dallas.

He wasn’t the most accurate passer in college football last season, connecting just 57.5 percent of his attempts. He threw seven interceptions, 11 touchdowns — and that’s not exactly a desirable ratio.

However, Ehlinger offset that by rushing 114 times for almost 400 yards — and there’s every reason to believe that he has improved significantly from 2017.


5. CHARLIE BREWER: Baylor sneaky-good sophomore

The 2017 true freshman was a highlight — probably the team’s highlight — during Baylor’s 1-11 season. He completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,152 yards and 11 touchdowns. He threw just four interceptions — and that’s not bad for anyone, and especially a rookie who many thought would redshirt.

He shared the postseason award given to the Big 12’s top freshman offensive player, so there’s also that.

Denzel Mims leads a solid bunch of receivers after catching 61 passes for 1,087 yards and eight touchdowns last season, so there’s that, as well.



Skyler Thompson, Kansas State; Shawn Robinson, TCU; Dru Brown, Oklahoma State; McLane Carter, Texas Tech; Peyton Bender, Kansas.

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at rpeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.