Today in the World of Sports…
The Jacksonville Jaguars re-signed defensive end Reggie Hayward to a one-year deal at a little above the veteran minimum last week. The 31-year-old Hayward, who spent the first four years of his career with the Denver Broncos, visited the St. Louis Rams and a few other NFL organizations in search of a new home. He started only one game in 2009 after breaking his lower leg against the Indianapolis Colts. This is the second pass-rusher the Jaguars have signed this offseason that has injury concerns – the other being free-agent signee Aaron Kampman.
Hayward’s best year came in 2004 with the Broncos when he recorded 10.5 sacks and 31 total tackles. Hayward, a nine-year veteran, has never started 16 games in a regular season. Even though he is making less than $1 million, most eyes will be on him. Hayward was brought in as a 10-sacks-per-year player and the closest he has come was 8.5 in 2005, his first season in Jacksonville. In five years with the Jaguars, Hayward has 17.5 sacks in 40 starts.
Kevin Haslam, an offensive lineman out of Rutgers, has planned visits with the New York Giants, Jets and Jaguars. The 6-foot-5 Haslam, a potential middle-of-the-pack draft selection, played guard and both tackle positions while at Rutgers. A visit with Jacksonville could mean Haslam is being sought to take over guard Uche Nwaneri’s spot while Nwaneri replaces center Brad Meester. At 33, Meester is the oldest player on the Jaguars.
On Saturday, I spoke to J.P. Shadrick, voice of the Jacksonville Suns since March 2006, about any up-and-coming MLB stars. He says to pay attention to Suns right fielder Mike Stanton. The 20-year-old Stanton, a 2007 second-round draft pick, has size (6-foot-5) and power. With 1,003 at-bats in professional baseball, he has 68 homeruns and 192 RBIs. Last season, in 79 games with the Suns, Stanton was .267 at the plate with 69 hits. Earlier in his minor-league career, he was a strikeout machine. Think Ryan Howard, Jr. But, if Stanton stays at the minor-league level until the All-Star break, I will be shocked.
I have never seen a head coach console a player like West Virginia’s Bob Huggins did on Saturday night when his senior guard Da’Sean Butler went down with a knee injury. Butler, diagnosed Sunday with a torn ACL in his left knee, was comforted by head coach Huggins for at least a full minute in the second half of WVU’s loss to Duke. My respect for Huggins increased tremendously on Saturday night. In my opinion, most of the nation feels the same way.
CBS studio analyst Greg Anthony has improved quite a bit over the years. His NBA broadcasting career began on shaky ground. Anthony, an 11-year NBA veteran, is a decent broadcaster. I still say that CBS’ other analyst, Seth Davis, is a thousand times better than Anthony. However, in the next five years, Anthony should be a full-time, in-game analyst. Practice makes perfect – or so I’ve been told.
I cannot believe I ever doubted this Duke squad. But, on any given night, one of their starting five will get hot and pick up the slack for the other four, if necessary. The true key is center Brian Zoubek. Then, if guards Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith or forward Kyle Singler get open looks, then they will crush Butler. The Butler Bulldogs, a team being compared to the Boise State football team for their dominance at the mid-major level, can be immortalized with a Monday night win. I root for the underdog, but the Duke Blue Devils deserve this NCAA title. I see the 63-year-old Coach Krzyzewski winning his fourth championship – the last coming in 2001.
My picks for the MPS Groups Championships final, which will conclude on Sunday, are No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 3 Dominika Cibulkova. The 19-year-old Wozniacki is the defending champion of the MPS Groups, being played in Ponte Vedra Beach for the second consecutive year. Along with six WTA Tour finals wins, she was the runner-up to Belgium’s Kim Clijsters in last year’s U.S. Open. Wozniacki is the future of women’s tennis.
If the NCAA Tournament is expanded to 96 teams, do we still have the pleasure of viewing a play-in game?
Richard Miller is a national broadcaster for Jacksonville Jaguars’ home games on Sporting News Radio. Additionally, he can be heard on ABC 1320 WBOB in Jacksonville at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesdays with The Jacksonville Observer Radio Show. Richard also hosts Inside the Game on Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on WBOB.
Currently, Richard is writing David Lamm’s biography entitled Lamm at Large: The David Lamm Story, which will be available in 2010.
Follow Richard’s daily blog on The Jacksonville Observer.