Newcomers impress as Trojans wrap up spring ball

first_imgEarly-enrollee quarterback Kedon Slovis played surprisingly well at spring practice. (Ling Luo/Daily Trojan) Throughout spring ball, a number of early-enrollee incoming freshmen on both sides of the ball made strong cases for playing time in the fall. With the loss of so many veterans to the draft, the freshmen’s ability to step up and contribute will be perhaps the most critical factor in the coming season. Though little more than a month of spring football doesn’t make the answers to those questions much clearer, it does give a better idea of what to expect from some of the younger team members. Jackson showcased his raw physical ability during the spring showcase, where he made a ridiculous one-handed interception at the line of scrimmage and proceeded to run it back for a touchdown. Jackson has been one of the most disruptive players on the Trojan front seven throughout the spring, and seems likely to have a big role to play come fall. Slovis showcases a natural understanding of the timing necessary for throws in offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s system, as well as refined touch on his passes. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, and his mobility is limited. However, his ability to quickly make reads and put the ball where and when it needs to be makes him worthy of notice at the position. Although it’s highly unlikely he wins the starting job, his ability to run the offense smoothly provides the Trojans with more security at signal caller — something a team always needs. Though the receiver room is crowded with an incredible amount of talent, Jackson’s performance so far should earn him the opportunity to fight for a bigger role in fall camp. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on the field regularly once the season begins. On the other side of the ball, quarterback Kedon Slovis has been a pleasant surprise for the Trojans. The Arizona native came into the spring with few expectations other than to be the fourth-string quarterback, yet his strong play has caught the attention of everyone in attendance. center_img Allen continued to play well once he was moved back to safety, a position where the Trojans sorely lack depth. With the loss of so many veteran players in the secondary and the injury woes of many that remain, Allen’s versatility could make him a crucial player in the fall. Outside linebacker and defensive end Drake Jackson was perhaps the biggest shining star of spring ball. Jackson already looks the part of a Division I edge rusher, standing at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds and having been compared to USC legend Leonard Williams by head coach Clay Helton. Jackson carries that frame with tremendous athleticism, showing a rare burst off the line of scrimmage along with a special quickness in moving off of blocks. Defensive back Briton Allen, a late flip from Georgia Tech, found his way into plenty of reps this spring as a result of the numerous injuries hampering the secondary. Allen performed impressively when thrust into the fire at cornerback in the early practices — a departure from his usual safety position. Though his technique and footwork in coverage have a ways to go, Allen’s raw football instincts and aggressiveness showed up regularly. Fellow offensive newcomer wide receiver John Jackson III has been one of the most fun players to watch throughout the spring. From the first week of practice, Jackson has looked like he’s played in this offense for years. His route running is smooth and sudden, with exceptionally clean breaks that allow him to create separation with ease. His natural athleticism, sound hands and route-running ability made him a favorite target throughout spring ball, regularly making plays against the first team defense. Now that spring football practice has come to an end, the Trojans won’t take the field again to prepare for the 2019 season for two months. There’s no shortage of questions surrounding the team; the way it bounces back from last year’s disappointing season may define the program for years to come. last_img read more

Klopp targets more after Liverpool end long wait for last eight

first_imgLiverpool, United Kingdom | AFP | Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted the Champions League quarter-finals is where his side belong after ending a nine-year wait to reach the last eight on Tuesday.Despite settling for a goalless draw in an uninspiring last 16, second leg at Anfield, Liverpool eased past Porto 5-0 on aggregate thanks to a comprehensive win in Portugal three weeks ago.“It feels really good,” said Klopp, who is only in his second full season in charge.“I think this year we belong there to be honest, it should not be a big surprise “The next round will be difficult, seven other very good teams, maybe four of them are from England, which doesn’t make it easier.“I think we will have a chance for sure to go to the semis. We’ll take it step-by-step and tonight it is cool.”With the job done in Portugal, Klopp could even afford the luxury of starting top-scorer Mohamed Salah and club-record signing Virgil van Dijk on the bench with one eye on Saturday’s vital visit to Manchester United in the Premier League.“Now we can prepare for the Manchester game. I’m looking forward to it,” added Klopp.Liverpool have made a habit of fast starts in Europe this season, but took time to warm to their task with the German having made five changes in all from the side that beat Newcastle at the weekend.It took 17 minutes for the hosts to threaten when Joe Gomez’s cross was acrobatically flicked towards goal by Mane, but looped just over the bar. Roberto Firmino had one clear chance to add to his seven Champions League goals this season when his shot was blocked by Porto captain Felipe before the Brazilian was protected by Klopp for the weekend as Danny Ings was introduced for the final half hour.Salah was given 15 minutes to find the winner when he replaced Mane.The Egyptian had one opportunity to extend his scoring streak to eight straight games, but Casillas smothered his low effort.And the Spanish veteran made his best stop of the night two minutes from time to deny Ings and hold onto his clean sheet.Share on: WhatsAppcenter_img Mane was inches away from his fourth goal of the tie on the half-hour mark when he controlled James Milner’s lofted pass on his chest before smashing the inside of Iker Casillas’s far post.Dejan Lovren then headed narrowly over as Liverpool threatened to raise the pulse of an understandably more subdued Anfield than is customary on a European night.“Probably if you draw away and then win at home it feels maybe different,” continued Klopp.“But the maximum you can achieve is the next round and we did that in a comfortable way.”Casillas was given a standing ovation by the Liverpool fans in the Kop end as he took to the field after the break on his record 167th and possible farewell appearance in the Champions League.“I think he has more (appearances) than our whole squad,” said Klopp, who embraced Casillas at full-time.“I don’t say the number of years but I think he obviously wants to play a bit more.”However, that was one of few moments that got the home fans off their feet as Liverpool settled on their substantial lead.last_img read more

Panthers prospect Dryden Hunt earns WHL Eastern Conference Player of the Year

first_imgThe Western Hockey League announced its 2016 Awards, and guess who’s on the list — Nelson’s Dryden Hunt.Hunt, who last month signed an entry-level contract with Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League, was announced as the WHL Eastern Conference Four Memorial Broncos Player of the Year.Western Conference winner is Joe Hickets of the Victoria Royals.The 20-year-old forward has experienced a dream season with the Moose Jaw Warriors, finishing second in WHL scoring with 116 points — four behind Adam Brooks of the Regina Pats. Hunt, who was also selected top the WHL First All Star team, scored 58 goals this season, tops in the entire WHL. Hunt also had five hat tricks.The 6-foot, 200 pound left-winger was also named player-of-the-month for January and recently player-of-the-week in February.Hunt’s teammates, netminder Zachary Sawchenko was selected Eastern Conference Top Goaltender and Noah Gregor Rookie of the year.The Nelson Minor Hockey grad also walked away with four team awards.  Hunt ended a 21-year drought for Warrior 50 goal scorers, and was the first Warrior in ten years to go over 100 points in a season, with that he captured the RBC Top Scorer Award.Hunt shared Player of the Year honours with Moose Jaw team captain Brayden Point while capturing the YARA Fans Choice award and team’s 3-Star Award.The Moose Jaw Warriors won its final regular season game, downing the Swift Current Broncos 3-1 to finish their 2015-2016 season in third place in the East Division.Moose Jaw now faces Prince Albert Raiders in the first round of the playoffs beginning Friday in Prince Albert.Game two is Saturday, March 26th in Prince Albert before the series shifts to Moose Jaw for Game’s three and four on Monday, March 28th and Tuesday, March 29th.Story originated at The Nelson Dailylast_img read more