Football Manager Touch 2018 Review – Nintendo Life


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Even the best footballers in the world need to be placed in an appropriate system if they are to thrive. Put Lionel Messi at defensive midfield in a hard working long ball team and you’d undoubtedly still experience moments of supreme quality, but you wouldn’t get the best out of him. That’s an appropriate analogy for Football Manager Touch 2018 on Nintendo Switch. It’s a brilliant game, and arguably the best football management sim experience on console, but it doesn’t quite feel at home on Nintendo’s hybrid system.

Even if you’re a faithful disciple of all things Nintendo, there’s a fair chance you’ve heard of Football Manager – perhaps under its earlier Championship Manager guise. This is the long-running family of football management simulators that has been responsible for countless wrecked marriages, such is its engrossing pull. It’s also the series that has been used by professional football managers to scout new playing talent, such is its unparalleled level of detail and accuracy.

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The ‘Touch’ genus of this family appeared fairly recently in response to demand for a streamlined mode that got back to the brand’s core essentials. At around the same time, it answered the call for a mobile version with the same inherent depth as the PC original. Football Manager Touch 2018 on Switch, then, is the same game you’ll find on iOS and Android tablets, as well as the simplified PC mode. You start each game by creating a manager, picking a real team from one of many worldwide leagues, and jumping straight into preparation for the current 2017/2018 season.

You can choose to get as hands-on with your squad as you’d like. For many casual football fans, the experience will consist of jumping from match to match with repeated presses of the ‘ZR’ button. In between games, you’ll assign your favourite players to their real-life positions in the Tactics menu, perhaps giving them specific roles so as to maximise their productivity. You might even go scouring the game’s formidably accurate database of real players, seeking to buy that Spanish superstar that gave your real life team the runaround in a recent match. Even then, you can leave it to your scouting team to dig up talent that fits your club’s profile and budget. Similarly, your assistant manager and coaching team will take care of training by default.

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Footy fanatics can get way more involved in every aspect, though. When it comes to match day, you can delve deeper into your team’s tactical approach, setting its tempo, width, height, rigidity and more. You can have your winger dovetail with your striker to bamboozle a static defence, or have your keeper take part in the build-up like an outfield player. You can even extend the 3D highlights package that represents each match so that you’re watching more of the game, or even watch the whole shebang.

In between matches, there’s even more to do. Whole evenings can be spent refining your player search parameters, sending out scouts to produce detailed reports on them. You can take direct control of training to turn your raw winger into a 40-goal-a-season striker. It’s also possible to buy a star player who’s worth way more than your entire season’s budget by structuring the payments and incentives just so.

Suffice to say, we’ve barely scratched the surface of the Football Manager Touch 2018 experience. This is a quite outstanding game that can suck as many hours of your life as the most engrossing RPG. It doesn’t shine on Switch, though. Playing on your TV with a controller is a complete mess, because this is a game that was designed to be played with a mouse or a finger. Dragging a cursor around with the left Joy-Con stick feels like something from the ’90s.

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Portable mode is the best way to play FMT 2018, because you can interact directly with the game’s countless links and screen prompts, and drag and drop players just like in the tablet versions. But it’s all too cramped. There’s a simple reason you can’t play Football Manager Touch 2018 on your iPhone or Android phone: because even a 6-inch display isn’t sufficient to cram in what is essentially a jazzed up spreadsheet. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the Switch’s 6.2-inch 720p display isn’t up to the job either.

The game’s text and virtual buttons are just too small here, and that means that it’s often easy to miss them or activate another screen element altogether. Despite this shrinkage factor, Sports Interactive was unable to fit everything onto the Switch’s screen. Essential side-menus have been shuttled away behind the ‘L’ and ‘R’ buttons, while the useful Back prompt is assigned to ‘ZR’. As a result, playing FMT 2018 in the optimal manner entails some awkward hand gymnastics.

Those menus are clunky to navigate too. Can you remember the last UI that made you bring up an overlay menu, select an option, then manually close the overlay menu rather than jumping straight to your selection? Even in the simpler confines of the match engine, the commentary bar is cut off entirely in handheld mode. This means that you’re left watching a static screen of information and a ‘waiting for next highlight’ message. Topping off the sensation of a sub-optimal port is the lack of Cross-Sync support, so you can’t continue your game on PC.

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All in all, it’s brilliant that you can now play this wonderful game on Nintendo Switch. If you have access to a halfway decent tablet or laptop, however, there are better ways to get your portable Football Manager Touch 2018 kicks.

Conclusion

Football Manager Touch 2018 is a mostly feature-complete version of the best football management game in the business. For Switch-owning football fanatics, it’s perilously close to a must-buy. Yet this is also a deeply imperfect and ill-fitting port that seems to have been crowbarred into Nintendo’s platform.



Wisconsin football: Houston transfer Collin Wilder loves Badgers' 'blue-collar mentality' – Landof10.com


Katy (Texas) High School football coach Gary Joseph recalls the first time he learned about Collin Wilder’s ambition as a player, and the story still makes him chuckle. Before Wilder had enrolled in high school, he approached Joseph at an eighth-grade track meet and told him he wanted a chance to play on the varsity football team as a freshman.

That might not sound like a lofty goal at many programs across the country. But this was Texas high school football. And Katy was a powerhouse team that vied for state championships every year. Joseph had coached enough players to know he should reason with Wilder.

“You have to understand, you’re making a jump from junior high football to varsity football,” Joseph said. “It’s very hard, especially playing the secondary and learning coverages and learning techniques and fundamentals. Not many people can do that. But he was very insistent on it.

“He showed up every day in the spring and watched and learned and asked questions. He showed up in the summertime through our strength and conditioning and showed he was physically capable of doing it. We gave him a chance, and he grabbed a hold of it.”

Wilder started every game at safety as a freshman, recorded 56 tackles and helped lead Katy to a state title. In fact, he wound up starting 64 consecutive games in his high school career and winning two state championships on undefeated teams. In his senior season, multiple publications ranked Katy as the No. 1 team in the country.

“He went through some tough growing pains,” Joseph said. “I stayed after him and stayed on him. He’d never been coached that hard. He had to learn the details of the game. I knew that once he withstood that, he had a chance to be a really good football player.

“He was one of the leaders of our football team. I think his greatest characteristic is his work ethic. But the second is his leadership ability.”

Wilder will be bringing those traits to Wisconsin after spending two seasons at Houston. He announced his intention to transfer to Wisconsin on Monday and is expected to arrive this summer. Wilder will be forced to sit out next season under NCAA transfer rules and will be eligible to play in 2019.

Wisconsin football-Houston transfer Collin Wilder
Safety Collin Wilder played two seasons at Houston. (USA Today Sports/courtesy)

The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Wilder played in all 13 games for the Cougars as a freshman in 2016, primarily on special teams as a punt returner. He tallied 9 punt returns and averaged 4.4 yards per return. Wilder appeared in two games in 2017 before suffering a season-ending left knee injury and should be granted a medical hardship waiver to retain that year of eligibility.

When Wilder evaluated his transfer options, he said Wisconsin was the first school that came to mind. The Badgers offered him a scholarship back in May 2015, and receivers coach Ted Gilmore served as his lead recruiter.

Wilder visited Wisconsin for spring practice less than two weeks ago and noticed several parallels between what he learned at Katy and how Wisconsin’s program operates. Joseph has such admiration for Wisconsin’s program that he brought his entire offensive coaching staff to Madison this spring to watch the Badgers practice as well.

“I think it’s the blue-collar mentality,” Wilder said. “It’s really big on you taking care of your business and the results showing. I think that’s a lot of who I am. Just the way that they run the program really reminds me a lot of my high school program in Katy. The Katy coaches went up there to watch their spring practice and told me that it’s very identical to the Katy program, so I would be a great fit there just from their perspective. When I went up there, it was everything I expected it to be.”

Wilder said Wisconsin coaches did not discuss the possibility of him returning kicks, but he would do whatever was asked of him. He described himself as an aggressive, physical safety and developed a strong connection with Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard during his visit.

“I like how experienced he is,” Wilder said. “He played the position. There’s a lot of college coaches that coach the safety position that didn’t play safety, let alone 10 years in the NFL. Or a three-time All-American at the school that he’s coaching. I believe he knows the ins and outs of everything that I want to do and everything to be successful.

“I really look forward to working with him. I think that I can take a lot of notes and a lot of lessons that he’s learned and I can bring it to my own game. That’s one thing I’m really excited for with him.”

Two of Wilder’s former Katy teammates now play for Big Ten West rival Northwestern: safety Travis Whillock and linebacker Paddy Fisher. Wisconsin offered scholarships to all three players as high school recruits, and Wilder remains close friends with Whillock and Fisher. He spoke to both players as soon as he texted them of his decision to play at Wisconsin on Monday.

“They said, ‘Wow, we’re actually going to be competing for a Big Ten championship against each other,’” Wilder said. “We kind of laughed about it. It’ll be fun, though. It’ll be fun being a lot closer to them.”

Wilder will compete for playing time in 2019 with several safeties on the roster. Scott Nelson could earn a starting role as a redshirt freshman this season. Nelson, Patrick Johnson, Eric Burrell, Seth Currens and Reggie Pearson Jr., among others, all will have multiple years left in the program.

Wilder’s high school coach is convinced the Badgers have landed a player that will make the program better.

“I think he’ll be a contributor there,” Joseph said. “I don’t think there’s much question. He’s going to do well. He’s one of those kids that you want on your football team because of his leadership, of his confidence and because he’s going to play and do exactly what he’s coached to do. He’s going to play extremely hard. He’ll find a way on the field.

“He knows not only what he’s doing, but he learned what everybody else was doing. He learned why he was doing things. He can get people lined up. He can sit there and make secondary adjustments and calls. He got to be like another coach on the field.”

Wilder, who wasted little time in picking Wisconsin after being granted his transfer release from Houston on April 3, said he has two weeks of classes remaining. He hopes to transfer in time for summer workouts in June. And he is eager to contribute at the college level in much the same way he did while at Katy.

“Obviously you don’t go to a college to just ride the bench,” Wilder said. “But the biggest thing is me being developed as a player. I think everything else will kind of come. Playing time, that’s not in my control or anything like that.

“I want the players to know there that I’m not there to be selfishly taking spots. Some guys have been up there for four years trying to work for it. I’m just going to go up there and look forward to being developed by Coach Leonhard and see where it goes from there.”



Michigan isn't backing off Purdue football commitment George Karlaftis – Journal & Courier


West Lafayette standout plans to take five official recruiting visits to Purdue, Michigan, Clemson, Florida and Southern California

 

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — In the days – maybe the hours or even minutes – after George Karlaftis made his public declaration to attend Purdue last October, another Big Ten program issued its own statement.

The West Lafayette defensive standout, who is one of the top players in the 2019 recruiting class, heard from Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines weren’t done recruiting Karlaftis, regardless of his decision and are determined to change his mind.

“That’s true,” Karlaftis said. “I can’t tell them not to recruit me. I guess I could but I’m not that kind of person. When Jim Harbaugh comes up to you and says, ‘We like you. We’re going to keep recruiting you.’ I said, ‘OK. I’m committed to Purdue and you guys have to know that.’

“It’s their right to recruit me and if they want to keep recruiting me, that’s good.”

Michigan hasn’t slowed down in its pursuit of Karlaftis the last six months. Harbaugh sent an assistant coach to at least two of his basketball games, including at Twin Lakes in January.

In late March, George, his younger brother Yanni, his mother, Amy and his girlfriend, Kaia Harris, went on an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor to meet with Harbaugh. The trip did prove fruitful for Yanni, who is just a freshman but received his first scholarship offer from Michigan. He’s since added offers from Purdue, Michigan State and Indiana.

Michigan’s sales pitch remains the same to George and his family – Harbaugh and the Wolverines are making him a top priority, believe the program is the right fit for his talents and will continue to pursue him, despite his commitment to the Boilermakers.

COMMITMENT: Purdue football lands WL’s George Karlaftis

KARLAFTIS: Once told he ‘sucks at football,’ Division I prospect has long list of suitors

Which begs the question – is George Karlaftis still committed to Purdue?

“I’m still committed to Purdue. There’s no question about that,” he said. “I just want to see other schools and be 100 percent sure that I picked the right college when I picked Purdue.”

Part of the decision-making process now involves taking all five of his official recruiting visits allowed by the NCAA.

He plans to visit Purdue, Michigan, Clemson, Southern California and Florida, although Karlaftis did mention trying to squeeze Alabama into the schedule. That would require removing one of the schools. He’s scheduled to visit Florida and USC in June and the other three during the 2018 season.

PURDUE BASKETBALL: Carson Cunningham steps up to next challenge

Which begs another question – what was Brohm’s reaction to the Ann Arbor visit where George and Yanni were seen in Michigan uniforms inside the stadium?

“I don’t think they were thrilled about it but coach Brohm and I had talked before I committed that I was allowed to take other visits,” George said. “They’re OK with it but they would prefer I don’t.”

As far as Brohm’s opinion on the subject, we’ll probably never know. College coaches are prohibited from commenting about prospects until they’ve signed the official paperwork. That can’t happen until December.

CROSS COUNTRY: West Lafayette honors 1964 state champions with rings

In Karlaftis’ mind, not much separates Purdue and Michigan.  

“If I had to pick between the two right now, it would be a tough decision,” Karlaftis said. “They want me equally and the pros and cons are the same for both. It’s not like I don’t like Purdue anymore and I’m still 100 percent committed.”

Karlaftis has no regrets about committing early, which was more than a year before he’s eligible to sign, and says all the factors that led him to announce his decision to attend Purdue remain in place.

By committing early, Karlaftis said he wanted to help build Purdue’s 2019 class. If one of the nation’s top players demonstrates his commitment to help turn the program around, he believes other talented players will follow.

RECRUITING: Future Purdue linebacker eager to join program

Purdue’s recruiting has picked up, at least from the type of athlete who is now coming to campus on unofficial visits. Brohm and his coaching staff are starting to repair the damage of previous regimes who ignored the state’s top programs and players.    

None of this matters to Michigan right now.

Karlaftis said the Michigan visit “was fun. They have great facilities and they have a great coaching staff. Everything is nice and new and they have a really good football history.”

He wasn’t surprised to see a Michigan assistant coach attend his basketball games.

“They really like me,” Karlaftis said.

Purdue also showed up at his games, including nearly every assistant coach and other support personnel when the Red Devils hosted Lafayette Jeff in February.

He said Michigan and Purdue are recruiting Harris, his girlfriend, who attended Air Force last semester but is going to transfer and continue to pursue her track and field career.

Karlaftis is on pace to graduate from West Lafayette in December, allowing him to start college in January 2019.

“My goal is to take care of my family and go to the NFL,” Karlaftis said. “This will best prepare me to take that next step after college by being ready to play early and get a step ahead.”

Until December, the crazy recruiting process will continue.

“I was surprised when they started sending my mom letters, my girlfriend letters, my grandpa letters, they were sending letters to my grandpa’s office and to my uncle in Indianapolis. I’ve heard it’s crazy for players who are ranked as highly as I am but it was pretty surreal when it happened,” Karlaftis said.

More Greater Lafayette News

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Purdue team’s magically delicious entry wins Rube Goldberg

Police investigate Purdue student’s death

Chicago felon charged with Lafayette shooting

Take a Virtual Tour: Unique Lafayette country home with log cabin design

 



Crossing Divides: Africans fight HK prejudice with football – BBC News


The team smile and make thumbs up and peace signs in a group selfie

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All Black FC

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Smile! The footballers of All Black FC – which has expanded to welcome Chinese Hongkongers and other ethnic minorities

In Hong Kong, locals rarely play football with immigrants.

Not surprising, perhaps, when a third of Chinese Hongkongers don’t want to sit next to members of other ethnic groups on public transport, live next door to them, or have their children as classmates to their own children, according to a survey by the NGO Hong Kong Unison.

Is the beautiful game really powerful enough to overcome that kind of prejudice?

Since 2016, a “refugee” football team – All Black FC – has been testing the theory as its players try to integrate, and build a better image for Africans in Hong Kong.

The team’s founder Medard Privat Koya is a former professional footballer from the Central African Republic. While his first players were almost all African asylum seekers, the squad has expanded to welcome Chinese locals and other ethnic minorities.

“Football can bring all of us together,” he reckons. “We can bring ideas, share experience and support each other.”

It’s also a constructive use of time – which is valuable because asylum seekers aren’t allowed to work in Hong Kong, even if they have lived in the city for years.

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All Black FC

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Many of the team are unable to work legally in Hong Kong

Darius, an asylum seeker from Togo, arrived in Hong Kong five years ago. He’s the team captain, and says football gives him a sense of purpose as they are not allowed to work.

“It is really hard. It makes people feel they are dying slowly because you spend five or seven years of your youth life waiting. You really start wondering what’s are you going to become in the future?

“After all that time with no work, or training, what kind of job are you going to do? Who would hire you?” says Darius.

When he became part of this team, it gave him hope.

“There is a group of people that I belong to,” he says. “We fight for something together. People will respect us based on our skills.”

And for the team’s most talented players, the distraction can lead to something bigger. An exceptional few are chosen to represent local football clubs, and can then apply for visas to work legally in Hong Kong.

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All Black FC

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Captain Darius (centre) and founder Medard (right) want the team to be a source of support for players

‘People take pictures and cover their noses’

Medard is encouraged to see locals and other non-Africans joining All Black FC. It shows that their values are respected, he says.

That’s an unusual feeling for some of the team.

Darius says it’s difficult for immigrants to rent a flat in the city as many landlords look down on foreigners.

Solomon Nyassi, a 26-year-old Gambian, tells BBC Chinese that on his first day in Hong Kong, he saw some people using their hands to cover their noses when they passed by him.

Sometimes, he says, he walks down the street, and Chinese tourists surround him and ask for pictures, which makes him feel “embarrassed”.

Solomon met his girlfriend, 20-year-old Hong Kong woman Louise Chan at an All Black FC match. She believes African men are more “mature” and “self-motivated”, and her family support the pair’s relationship. But some people’s reactions have shocked her.

“Hong Kong people are so closed-minded,” says Louise, who owns a clothes shop. “Some keep sending articles to me to tell the bad rumours about African people. I feel very disappointed.”

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Louise Chan

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Footballer Solomon and his girlfriend Louise have faced prejudice from some quarters

Prejudice can show its face on the pitch, too.

Darius says some Hong Kong locals think Africans play football “violently”. Some have shouted foul language at the team.

“We always tell our players to keep disciplined,” the captain says. “No matter what has happened, we just need to keep it calm. We can’t let them label us.”

‘I don’t see race’

Doug Tze, a 34-year-old Hong Kong man, has been part of All Black FC since July 2017.

He says he didn’t feel totally welcome at first, and blames the African players’ previous poor treatment at the hands of Hongkongers.

But when he showed some effort and commitment, Doug says they became good friends who now hang out together.

“I don’t see race; I just see good players,” he says.

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Biu Chun Rangers

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All Black FC in action against Biu Chun Rangers, who play in the Hong Kong Premier League

Kevin Fung, a college football player who recently played All Black FC in a tournament, believes the African players could motivate Hong Kong natives.

“They are passionate, focused and work hard. But Hong Kong players give up easily,” Kevin says.

“Hong Kong people focus on other work and study. They only spare their little leisure time for football.”

For that reason, he doubts football can really achieve racial harmony in Hong Kong.

“After all, local football is not a popular activity,” he notes. “In Hong Kong, there are only a few competitions. Official games are not broadcast widely. No-one really cares (about local football). Solving racial problems through football is doomed to be difficult.”

All Black FC understand that too. So to further their goal of achieving social change, the players sometimes do voluntary work like visiting old peoples’ homes to connect with the wider community.

“It changes the locals’ mindset,” says Darius.

“Maybe we are not benefitted directly today. But it may make a path for the next generation so that ethnic minorities, asylum seekers and refugees will be seen differently in future.”


Crossing Divides

Crossing Divides: a week of stories about people creating connections in a polarised world.


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Who is LSU football's new guy? Damien Lewis is son to an imprisoned father who escaped impoverished Canton – The Advocate


CANTON, Miss. — The phone calls are brief.

They are between Damien and Damien.

They are between father and son, a prison inmate and a football player.

It’s been this way for nearly seven years.

It may just be a spring game, but that won’t stop the questions. 

Damien Dozier, Damien Lewis’ father, missed his son’s formative years while behind bars: those middle school days of Damien stumbling upon football in eighth grade because he “liked to hit things,” his mother says; the high school days, on a team of 26 players, when Damien completed his three-year career with 11 wins and zero scholarship offers; at junior college, where Damien developed into a 320-pound mauling offensive guard who drew the interest of dozens of college coaches.

Damien Dozier has missed all of this, convicted on drug-related charges in the summer of 2011.

He will not miss the next stage of his son’s career — the one that started four months ago at LSU. 

Damien Dozier’s release date will arrive a week after the completion of his son’s first spring practice in Baton Rouge, said Stacey Lewis, Damien Lewis’ mother. A coincidence? 

“All God,” Damien Lewis said, a gesture to the heavens. “That’s his plan.”

In a word, Damien Lewis’ spring has been successful, something thousands of LSU fans in Tiger Stadium witnessed Saturday night at the spring game — a wide-bodied, thick-framed man shoving around elite athletic defenders.


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Damien Lewis

Damien Lewis speaks to reporters Tuesday for the first time as an LSU football player.


They saw a guy wearing No. 68 who has been the talk of spring, a man coach Ed Orgeron privately projects as a 10-year NFL player and one he must fit into his starting offensive line.

Damien Lewis has made a thunderous introduction to this program — on the field, off the field and in the weight room. In his first 100 days at LSU, he has positioned himself to take a starting spot at guard, befriended everyone he’s met and is, without question, the strongest man on the LSU football team, players and strength coaches say.

He introduced his tree-trunk-sized arms and waist-sized legs Tuesday to two dozen local reporters, an environment unlike any he’s ever experienced. He’s the oldest of four boys, the son of an imprisoned father, part of a poor family from a rural community in central Mississippi.

To him, this is the big city, the big school — his “dream team,” he says.

“Never been to a big place like this, got a whole bunch of fans,” Damien said. “When I brought my momma down here, she didn’t know what to think. It’s way big.”

“He’s on top now,” Stacey said. “Done left Canton. He’s happy.”

Canton is a town of about 13,000 people, situated along I-55 some 25 miles north of Jackson. Seventy-five percent of its population is black, and one third of its residents live below the poverty line, according to the latest U.S. Census figures.

“It’s a little place where a couple of people make it out,” Damien said. “Too much gang activity. People want to just fight and drop out of school.”

If there’s one thing Ed Orgeron learned Saturday, LSU has to get better at offensive execution between now and September.

During his childhood, Damien lived in at least three different cities — Canton, Biloxi, Mississippi, and Atlanta — and in at least five different homes, most of them Section 8, his mother said. A majority of his youth was spent in Saw Mill Quarters, a low-income neighborhood tucked a half mile from Canton’s old town square.

Saw Mill Quarters is six square blocks of heartache. The neighborhood hugs an industrial park. A junkyard, battered vehicles stacked on top of one another, welcomes visitors.

Twisted chain-link fences separate tiny homes. In one backyard, rusty weight-lifting equipment sits aged by the elements. Above it, a wire of wet clothes provides intermittent shade. One home’s fencing isn’t metal or wood — dozens of linked PVC pipes provide the only barrier from the street.  

“It is,” Jasper Bacon started before a pause. “It is a place that does not have much.”


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Damien Lewis

Jasper Bacon, the executive director of In His Steps Ministries, describes to Damien Lewis’ mother, Stacey, the organization’s new plans for dormitories on the property. 


Bacon is familiar with Saw Mill Quarters.

He is the executive director of In His Steps Ministries, a Christian nonprofit he founded 23 years ago. Its mission is to help at-risk children and juvenile offenders and their families in central Mississippi.

The organization’s home is a 15-acre swath of land separated from Saw Mill Quarters by a dense line of trees. The acreage includes a 7,000 square foot main building, organic garden, roofed basketball courts, a softball and soccer field and soon-to-be-built dormitories.

This is a haven for underprivileged youths in a community that desperately needs it. Damien Lewis began with the program in fifth grade after a chance meeting. Bacon spotted Damien leaving Nichols Middle School for the trek home, more than a mile away.

He planned to walk.

Stacey Lewis did not own a vehicle. To this day, that has not changed.

“I said, ‘Get in the car. You’re not walking across town,’ ” Bacon recalled.

“I was trying to raise him by myself,” Stacey said. “His father got into the jail. Got into some mess. I tried to my best.”

Decked in his team-issued purple and gold jump suit, Damien returned to In His Steps Ministries over spring break last month. He is a fan favorite around here, known as Banky, a nickname his grandfather bestowed on a toddler who carried his “blanky” (blanket) everywhere, Stacey said.


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Damien Lewis

Jasper Bacon tours a reporter across the grounds of In His Steps Ministries in Canton, Mississippi. He’s pointing beyond the tree line toward Damien Lewis’ childhood neighborhood, Saw Mill Quarters. 

The path before him leads to the organization’s 18-month-old roofed basketball courts. 


Damien spent much of his childhood at In His Steps Ministries. He studied in classrooms and shot basketball in the parking lot. It was Bacon and his wife, Carolyn, who drove Damien to football summer camps across the Southeast. It was the Bacons who inspired Damien to get baptized last year.

“He brought God into my life, guidance into my life,” Damien said of Jasper Bacon. “He brought people into my life. Without him, a lot of stuff wouldn’t have taken place.”

Without Hurricane Katrina — of all the miserable things — Damien might not have found the ministry at all. The 2005 storm destroyed the family’s home in Biloxi, a place Stacey and her two oldest boys moved to “try to build a life for myself,” she said, “but that storm hit.”

Storm surge submerged her home, leaving it uninhabitable. Her sister’s home was worse.

“Her house was in the ocean,” Stacey said.

It was around this time Stacey noticed a quality in her oldest son.

“He always wanted to hit something,” she said.

That resulted in the purchase of two red-and-blue boxing gloves. He expelled his aggressive tendencies by beating them together. He’d walk throughout the house banging the mitts into one another, his fists balled up beneath the thick fabric.

While recruiting a Canton High School game, Jim Jones saw that same aggression from a guy he now calls “Big Lew.” His evaluation of Damien that night produced one scribbled word in Jones’ notebook: “Wow,” he recalls.

“What I found out is Damien had a lot of Division I interest, but not major Division I, because he was projected to be an academic non-qualifier,” said Jones, the offensive line coach at Northwest Mississippi Community College. “I had to do everything I could to go after him. There wasn’t even a lot of junior colleges that knew about him.”

Damien spent the next two years at NMCC in Senatobia, Mississippi, about 40 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. What he did there amazes his coaches.


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lsufootball76.041818

LSU offensive lineman Damien Lewis (68) works during spring practice against Donavaughn Campbell.



Damien packed on some 40 pounds — much of it muscle — started all 24 games of his career, rolled up more pancake blocks than any other player, graduated in 18 months, and landed on the school’s dean’s list and the National Junior College Athletic Association all-academic third team. In two years in Senatobia, he never missed or was late to a single meeting or practice.

“He saw an opportunity,” Bacon said. “‘This is my ticket!’”

His drive during his junior college years is hard to describe, his coaches say. He did not often visit home, unable to afford the 300-mile roundtrip. He remained on campus — studying, weightlifting and perfecting his on-field craft.

A normal sight on Northwest’s football field, no matter the weather conditions, was Damien running between cones.

“It’s personal to him. He doesn’t ever want to get beat,” said Jones, a former Notre Dame offensive lineman who played professionally. “He sees football as what it has already become for him, what his God-given gift is. It’s already gotten him a full scholarship. As a guy who played in the NFL for six years, he’s got a real good chance to be playing on Sundays.

“There’s something in him that you can’t teach. He’s special.”


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Damien Lewis

Damien Lewis speaks to reporters Tuesday for the first time as an LSU football player.


Damien is a self-proclaimed “finisher” on the field who thrives, above anything else, in paving paths in the run game. It is his “specialty,” he claims.

He is unmatched in the weight room — even at LSU. He is the strongest on the team, admits the second strongest player, defensive end Breiden Fehoko.

“An animal,” Fehoko said.

He can squat 635 pounds, bench press 475 and, at any point, give you as many as 80 consecutive pushups without a rest. He calls himself a “bull” with the weights.

Benjy Parker, the head coach at Northwest, has witnessed the bull — shirtless and slamming around iron for hours in the Rangers weight room.

“He sure is strong,” Parker said. “I promise you, the good Lord put Damien on this earth to be strong. It wasn’t any supplement or Muscle Milk. He’s a naturally, very strong guy.”

He’s a humble one, too, those close to him say. He pancakes defenders and then helps them off the turf.

“Ultimate sportsman,” Parker said.

While at NMCC, the scholarship offers poured in. Kentucky was the first to make the move after Damien’s freshman season, then West Virginia, Ole Miss and a dozen more.

LSU was not in the market for a guard. The Tigers return their two starters, Garrett Brumfield and Ed Ingram, but Jones kept pushing Jeff Grimes, then LSU’s offensive line coach.

“I talked to (Jim Jones) about him and they were so persistent that I said, ‘OK, I’m going to give the guy a look,’ ” said Grimes, now the offensive coordinator at BYU. “I watched his film and talked to him on the phone, and I was almost sold without even seeing him in person.”

College football spring games are often no more than a glorified scrimmage.

Justin Jefferson is not like any other LSU freshman.

LSU coaches are still sorting out how they’ll squeeze him into a 2018 starting lineup with two returning guards. He’s been working behind Brumfield at left guard. Could change be coming? At least in one scrimmage, Damien received first-team snaps there, Orgeron revealed, and the coach said Brumfield could be an option at center.

No matter what happens, he’s here at his dream school. Damien remembers the phone call in which Orgeron officially offered him. His cell buzzed with the coach’s name.

“I was like, ‘This is my dream team calling me,’” he said. “Dreams come true.”

Another will be granted next week.

Damien Dozier is set for release from the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl, Mississippi, just outside of Jackson. The date of his release could fluctuate, but it is imminent.

He is eligible for what is called earned released supervision, according to records from the Mississippi Department of Corrections. He served seven of a 17-year sentence for a June 2011 conviction for the sale of cocaine. He will visit a parole officer for a decade after his release and then have five years of probation. 

Damien Dozier’s mistake is not lost on his son, says Bacon. It is a motivating factor for Banky.

After all, Stacey said, he looks up to his father. He is anticipating the reunion, getting what she calls “dad time.”

“Not seeing my dad outside prison for eight to nine years … ” an emotional Damien started. “His son is ending up playing at a big-time school doing what he wants to do, pursuing his dreams. It’s going to be huge. We’ll go out to celebrate.”




Arlottas Endow Offensive Coordinator Position at Notre Dame – Notre Dame Official Athletic Site



April 20, 2018

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — University of Notre Dame alumnus John J. Arlotta and his wife, Barbara (Bobbie), from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, have made a $5 million gift to his alma mater to endow the Notre Dame football team’s offensive coordinator position.

“We are truly grateful to the Arlotta family — John and Bobbie, in particular — for their generous benefaction endowing the offensive coordinator coaching position for the Notre Dame football program,” said Jack Swarbrick, vice president and James E. Rohr director of athletics. “This gift reflects the confidence of both Notre Dame and the Arlottas in the direction of our football program under head coach Brian Kelly. It also allows us to make additional strategic decisions in terms of devoting financial resources in ways that will benefit football here at the University in years to come.”  

The Arlottas’ gift will help to underwrite the salary of the coach, provide stability and resources for the long term and create funds for use within the department. Chip Long, now in his second season at Notre Dame, is the first John and Bobbie Arlotta Family Offensive Coordinator.

“Our football program is extremely appreciative of this gracious gift from the Arlotta family. Chip is certainly honored by the gesture,” said Brian Kelly, the Dick Corbett Head Football Coach. “John and Bobbie are wonderful, and they’re a tremendous example of the type of people that we’re blessed to meet at the University of Notre Dame.”

Long added: “I am extremely humbled by the generous gift that Mr. and Mrs. Arlotta have provided the University–in particular the football program. I’ve had the pleasure to get to know both of them over my time at Notre Dame. They’re an incredibly welcoming couple that not only love this University, but believe strongly in everything it stands for. This gift is a true representation of that love and commitment.”

John Arlotta is a 1971 graduate of Notre Dame who majored in marketing with a minor in transportation management. He was in the Army ROTC at Notre Dame and is a retired captain in the U.S. Army Reserves.

“Bobbie and I are so thankful to be able to support coach Kelly and the Notre Dame football program,” John Arlotta said. “From our experience owning a  professional lacrosse team, we know that the difference between winning and losing is often found in the little things, or what we call the extra 1 percent. It is our sincere hope that this gift adds an extra 1 percent that helps coach Kelly and coach Long bring a national championship back to Notre Dame.”

Bobbie Arlotta added: “I am so pleased that John and I have been able to aid Notre Dame student-athletes over the years, first in lacrosse and now in football.  Our relationship with the Notre Dame lacrosse and football programs has been a true blessing.”

With more than 45 years in the healthcare industry, Arlotta is the chief executive officer of eviCore, a healthcare management firm that provides custom strategies and services designed to control costs and assist clients in ensuring higher quality care for patients. His wide-ranging business experience includes large and small companies that were both publicly and privately held, and he has managed start-ups, turnarounds and growth organizations.

Arlotta previously served as special advisor to the growth equity firm General Atlantic and the private equity firm MTS Partners; chairman, president and CEO of Coram Inc., a provider of home infusion and specialty pharmacy services; chairman, president and CEO of pharmaceutical products and services provider NeighborCare; president and CEO of Caremark Rx; and chair, president and CEO of HealthCall Corp. He began his career at Chicago-based Baxter International, serving in a variety of sales, marketing and general management positions.

A Philadelphia native, Bobbie Arlotta earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and had an 18-year career in sales and marketing management at Independence Blue Cross in her hometown.

The Arlottas also are owners of the Georgia Swarm of the National Lacrosse League (NLL), an indoor professional league composed of eleven teams in the United States and Canada. John was selected as the league’s executive of the year in 2009 and general manager of the year in 2012 and 2017. In 2017, the Swarm won the NLL Championship. He has served as chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Lacrosse League, and currently is vice chairman.

The family provided the lead gifts for the construction of Notre Dame’s Arlotta Stadium, home to the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. John and Bobbie also are members of the Rockne Athletics Fund, and John serves on the University’s Advisory Council for the Student-Athlete.

The Arlottas are the parents of three adult children, Mindy, Andy and Jon Arlotta, and have six grandchildren.

Long is a 2006 graduate of the University of North Alabama, where he was a four-year letter-winner at tight end. He came to Notre Dame in 2017 from the University of Memphis, where he served for one year as offensive coordinator. His previous coaching stops include Arizona State University, the University of Illinois and as a graduate assistant at the University of Arkansas.

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From: Dennis Brown, assistant vice president for news and media relations