SASKATOON — Jenson Stoshak has caught virtually everything thrown his way since joining the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.
He did the same thing at Florida Atlantic University — and he has the YouTube video to prove it.
In 2015, Stoshak became an Internet sensation (Click here to watch!) when he caught passes while doing three backflips, one after another. He snared the first pass with his right hand, the second with his left hand (while still holding the first ball in his right hand) and the third with both hands (after tossing away the first two balls).
“That was around the time when everyone was trying to do backflip stuff,” the 23-year-old product of Jacksonville, Fla., said after the Roughriders’ training-camp session Monday at the University of Saskatchewan’s Griffiths Stadium.
“One day after practice at FAU, me and a couple of my buddies were like, ‘Hey, y’all want to try to make (ESPN’s) SportsCenter?’ I was like, ‘Sure, why not?’ So we went to the backup practice facility (and tried).
“(The successful attempt) wasn’t a first-time thing; a lot of people think it was. I did a bunch of them. It was something just to mess around with and it ended up blowing up bigger than I thought it would.”
Stoshak estimated he did “about 20 backflips that day” and was ready to give up before the successful try.
The 6-foot-0, 200-pound receiver doesn’t have a background in gymnastics and admitted he was scared to do backflips before a friend took him to the beach one day to learn. The rest is history.
Stoshak may have landed the backflips, but it’s unlikely the video helped him land a job in pro football.
“I don’t think coaches really care if you can catch a backflip ball or not,” he said with a chuckle. “It was just something fun to do and it ended up getting out bigger than I thought it would.”
Stoshak spent four seasons at Florida Atlantic, recording 131 receptions for 1,881 yards and six touchdowns in 43 games with the Owls. He wasn’t selected in the 2016 NFL draft, but signed as an undrafted free agent with the Carolina Panthers.
His time with the Panthers was brief — he didn’t get further than their rookie camp — so he was without a job until the Roughriders called.
In April, Stoshak went to a play-in day staged by the team for free agents in Vero Beach, Fla. His performance there earned him a contract and an invitation to the Roughriders’ mini-camp that same week. His showing there earned him a spot in Saskatchewan’s training camp.
Roughriders head coach-GM Chris Jones said Stoshak’s route-running stood out on play-in day, as did his hands. Both of those skills have been evident throughout training camp as well.
“He does nothing but win (when going up against defensive backs),” Jones said. “When you look at him, he’s not the prototypical guy that we look for. He got to us simply by playing his way.
“He came to play-in day and everywhere we’ve ever tried him out and put him under the gun, he has performed. We have to take notice of a guy who continually wins against our DBs.”
That’s all Stoshak can ask for.
“It feels good to be recognized for your hard work; anyone would say that,” he said when told of Jones’ comments. “At the end of the day, whatever you put on film is who you are. Hopefully I put together some good stuff for everybody.”
During Florida Atlantic’s pro day, Stoshak ran a 4.63-second 40-yard dash, pumped out 21 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press and had a 33-inch vertical jump.
At the Roughriders’ mini-camp, he consistently got open against man-to-man defenders and found the holes in zone coverages — and he may have dropped as many as two passes over the three-day event.
Getting into Saskatchewan’s playbook at that camp has helped him during training camp, too. Plays that are being installed in Saskatoon were ones that Stoshak and his fellow mini-campers learned in Florida, so that group is slightly ahead of the game.
Stoshak also appears to have moved ahead of other receivers on the depth chart. He has been practising with the No. 1 offence of late — and he stayed there Monday even though one of last season’s starters, Ricky Collins Jr., returned from injury. Collins was moved to the defensive backfield, in part because of injuries to other DBs.
During Saskatchewan’s mock game Saturday, Stoshak tied for the team lead with four receptions and led the receiving corps with 78 yards and 34 yards after the catch.
And, no, he did not snag any of those passes while doing backflips.
“I’m pleased with what I’ve done,” Stoshak said. “I know I’m a good player. I’m not a very cocky player. I’m just confident in what I do and I just put my nose to the grindstone and keep going.”
Kevin Snead is not a big-time receiver from a college football powerhouse. In fact, he totaled only six receptions in two seasons while playing wide receiver for Carson-Newman, a Division II program in Jefferson City, Tennessee.
This past week, however, Snead found himself on the same practice field as Brandon Marshall, Eli Manning and some of the most pedigreed players in the game as he participated in the Giants’ OTA practices at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
“It’s just an amazing feeling being out there,” said Snead, who was dubbed “The Fastest Man in College Football” by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association last year.
Snead caught the attention of a lot of NFL clubs when he ran a hand-timed 4.22 40-yard dash — which ties the NFL Scouting Combine record set by now-Bengals wideout Jon Ross this year — at Tennessee’s pro day before the draft. Snead also had a vertical jump of 37.5 inches and a broad jump of 10-11 at the pro day. He had been on the team’s radar even before that as longtime Giants scout Jeremiah Davis, who has roots in Tennessee, brought him to their attention.
So a week before OTAs, the Giants decided to squeeze the sprinter on to their 90-man roster. After their first OTA session, it became clear that Snead is a project, albeit an intriguing one.
“He’s fast enough, but he’s got a long way to go,” coach Ben McAdoo said when asked if the track star could make the transition. “When it’s clean and he’s confident, he catches the ball well. When it’s not and he’s learning, it’s hard for him to catch the ball. He’s a project.”
That may be so, but Snead has fought his way through adversity before. He attended junior college in Arizona and spent a year at Eastern Michigan before landing a track scholarship to Carson-Newman. Though he also played football for the school, it was as an All-American sprinter when he really excelled.
“He’s not one of those spindly little track guys. He has some muscle mass,” said Carson-Newman track coach David Needs, who also has served as an assistant on the school’s football team. “There was some talk of him turning professional in track, but to be honest, football is really his first love.”
Snead grew up playing football in Virginia and went to Mesa Community College to play the sport. Needs said his catches at Carson-Newman were limited by the fact that he had some nagging injuries his senior year and wasn’t completely healthy until late in the season.
It’s one thing, however, to play Division II ball and quite another to line up next to some of the best football players in the world, even if you are one of the fastest people on the field.
“It’s definitely a learning curve for me coming from a small school and stepping it up to the NFL,” Snead said. “Right now, I’m just trying to adjust to the speed of things and basically trying to learn a playbook. It’s a big change, and I try to make the most of my opportunities. I love football and I’m thankful just to be here.”
The Redskins have signed defensive lineman Terrell McClain on the second day of free agency. McClain is coming off a career year in 2016, recording 40 tackles along with 2.5 sacks.
The Washington Redskins will have a new big body on the defensive line, as the team announced on Friday the signing of defensive lineman Terrell McClain.
McClain, 28, is a six-year veteran who has played for the Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, Houston Texans and, most recently, the Dallas Cowboys.
For his career, the 6-foot-2, 302 pounder has collected 90 tackles (58 solo) along with eight tackles for loss, three fumbles forced and two fumbles recovered.
He originally entered the NFL as a third-round pick out of South Florida for the Panthers.
During his rookie season in 2011, McClain started all 12 games he appeared in, collecting 19 tackles along with a sack.
He made his professional debut on Sept. 11, 2011, recoding a tackle against the Arizona Cardinals. In Week 8 against the Minnesota Vikings, McClain recorded his first career sack.
McClain was released by the Panthers on Sept. 26, 2012, before being signed by the New England Patriots.
He appeared in just one game with the Patriots in 2012 before spending three more games that season with the Texans.
In 2013, McClain signed with the Cowboys. During his debut season in Dallas, McClain appeared in all 16 regular season games, recording 10 tackles.
McClain would record 19 tackles in 13 games during the 2014 season along with a sack.
In 2016, the Tampa, Fla., native set career highs in tackles (40) and sacks (2.5). McClain would record a career-high 1.5 sacks in a 28-14 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 5.
McClain joins a defensive line that will now be guided by veteran position coach Jim Tomsula. While Chris Baker’s future in Washington is uncertain at this time, McClain will play alongside a group that includes Ricky Jean Francois, Anthony Lanier and Matt Ioannidis among others.
Imposing Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu is scheduled to visit the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
Melifonwu is regarded as a rising draft prospect who is expected to go in the first round and many teams like him at cornerback because of his 6-4, 224-pound size, 4.40 speed and fluid movement at drills in the NFL scouting combine.
He played cornerback in the prestigious Senior Bowl all-star game and did well.
He met with the AFC South champion Texans at the Senior Bowl along with 14 other teams.
At the NFL scouting combine, Melifonwu had formal meetings with the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, Atlanta Falcons, Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts.
He had 44-inch vertical leap. Melifonwu also registered an 11-9 broad jump and bench pressed 225 pounds 17 times.
Melifonwu's ascent as a draft prospect is reminiscent of Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones going in the first round after a strong workout circuit and playing at Connecticut.
He has a March 22 campus Pro Day workout at Connecticut that's expected to be widely attended by NFL personnel.
Melifonwu had 118 tackles last season and four interceptions. A four-year starter, Melifonwu had six interceptions over the past two seasons and cut down on his penalties.
Joe Kiemen4 days ago Follow @kiemenjoe
The Green Bay Packers defeated the Detroit Lions to become the NFC North Champions. Riding the stellar play of Aaron Rodgers, the Packers overcame their 4-6 record and enter the playoffs as the NFL’s hottest team. Will Geronimo Allison continue his strong play in the playoffs? If so, how will it affect the wide receiver corps next year?In week 17, rookie wide receiver, Geronimo Allison picked a perfect time to set a career high in receiving yardage. Most importantly, each of his 4 catches and 91 yards played a major role on scoring drives.
One of these plays was significant but easily overlooked. With only 23 seconds left before halftime, the Packers faced a 14-7 deficit. Instead of taking a knee and heading to the locker room, McCarthy went against the status quo and came out throwing. This was even more surprising after a delay of game penalty on first down.
Lining up from the slot, Geronimo Allision showed tremendous chemistry with Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback rolled to his right. After bullying his way through early contact, Allison read Rodgers’ eyes and found a gaping hole in the coverage.
The 39-yard reception led to a Mason Crosby field goal as the first half ended. Before Allison’s catch, Detroit was in firm control of the momentum. Given the way the Green Bay defense had played, the Lions 14-7 lead was a potential problem.
In the 4th quarter, Allison once again offered timely production with a 31-yard reception and drive capping 10-yard touchdown. What stood out most was the receiver’s connection with Rodgers after a play breaks down.
Allison’s awareness and length provide’s Rodgers with a big-bodied target he can trust. This will certainly lead to additional opportunities down the road.
The physical attributes and chemistry with Aaron Rodgers have led some to suggest that Allison could replace teammate Randall Cobb. Indeed, Cobb’s injuries, lackluster production, and large contract have given this argument legs.
Entering the third year of his four-year deal, Cobb’s cap hit is set to increase from $9.15 million to $12.75 million in 2017-18. If Ted Thompson were to get out from this commitment, he could use the money to re-sign current players or find help in the secondary.
However, this would be a mistake. Instead of looking to replace to offensive weapons, Thompson should always be seeking to add more. With fans already restless that Green Bay has only one Super Bowl victory with Aaron Rodgers, departing with a versatile playmaker would be a mistake.
NEXT: Rodgers Steals The MVPHaving already shown he has a knack for the big play, Geronimo Allison is making noise in Green Bay. While Mike McCarthy always preaches the importance of competition in training camp, Randall Cobb’s 2017-18 roster status should not in jeopardy. A receiving corps of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison and a potential draft pick will make the unit one of the league’s best.
HOUSTON -- For the 10 minutes or so of practice open to the media every day, running back Akeem Hunt makes his presence known.
No, not with his football plays -- though he has impressed Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien with those as well -- but with his dance moves. During the warm-up and stretching portion of practice, Hunt has provided energy, which is something O’Brien has noticed.
“He’s definitely one of those guys that brings a lot of energy and he has a ton of fun playing football, whether it’s out on the practice field or playing in games,” O’Brien said on Monday.
In Sunday’s victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Hunt ran for 52 yards on eight carries. He also had a third-quarter run for 33 yards that was called back because of a penalty.
“I thought he gave us a spark and that’s what we were looking for,” O’Brien said. “I thought he had earned the right to be on the 53-man roster through his play on the look team, the scout team and on the practice squad. I thought that he came in there and did a nice job for us.”
Hunt, who did not make the Texans' roster out of training camp, chose to sign in Houston and join the practice squad to start the regular season.
“It was just the best choice for me as far as practice squad goes because I actually know the playbook and I know all my teammates," Hunt said. "Everybody just makes me feel like I’m home and I feel like I’m welcome here.”
Hunt was a part of the Texans’ roster last season, playing in eight games, including the playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He had only one game with more than three carries, but he had three games in which he got into the open field and had a long run (plays of 17, 21 and 25 yards).
"He gets around the edge pretty fast," Lamar Miller said. "I think he's doing a good job in the open field being decisive and trying to make a good play."
Added quarterback Brock Osweiler: "Akeem is that guy who has so much bottled-up energy and if you get him the ball, he might be able to spring the big one every single time. He's so athletic and fast and a smart football player."
All season, O’Brien has preached the importance of players who can make a contribution on special teams. He said he liked what he saw from Hunt in that area on Sunday.
“When you look at Hunt [Sunday] on special teams -- forget about offense, that’s pretty obvious how he played on offense because he had the ball in his hand and he made some good plays -- but on special teams he was disruptive, too,” O’Brien said. “He may not have shown up as much in the stats as far as having a tackle, but he was down the field -- him or Don Jones were down there first, first or second, and making the returner, [Arrelious] Benn or whoever the returner was, have to make a first move before they really wanted to.”
Hunt said the praise from O’Brien has made him work even harder this season.
“It feels good to hear that coming from the head coach because he watches everything,” Hunt said. “He watches every rep and to hear him say that makes me want to push even harder to keep hearing him say that stuff."
Last season, Hunt was signed to the active roster after starting running back Arian Foster was put on injured reserve. This year, he was promoted due to injuries to Miller and fellow running backs Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes.
“This is the time of year when those guys are banged up and they need a rest, they need somebody to be able to come in and play for them and help them,” O’Brien said. “That was part of the decision.”
After his big game Sunday, Hunt said he was glad his teammates had noticed his energy and hopes it had affected them.
“I’ve always been the energetic type of guy, even when I was young,” Hunt said. “My mom said I used to run into walls when I was a kid. I just always carried that energetic spirit about myself.
"I just feel like nothing can go wrong if you just stay happy and get everyone around you energetic.”
The 31-year-old is in the top-10 in the league in both kick and punt return average
He may be 31-years-old and in the midst of his 10th NFL season, but the Atlanta Falcons' Eric Weems has once again been among the league's best return men.
The former B-CU and Seabreeze star is seventh in the league with 23.4 yards per kick return, and fifth with 11.7 yards per punt return. Weems' 73-yard punt return against Oakland earlier in the year is the fifth-longest of the season.
These numbers are nothing new for Weems, who was drafted in 2006. Over the course of his career, the former Wildcat and Sandcrab has consistently been one of the better returners in the league, averaging 24.3-yards per kick return, and nearly 11-yards per punt return.
This past Sunday against Philadelphia, Weems had another strong day, returning three kicks for 74-yards, including a 28-yard return in the first quarter.
Here are how some of the other former area stars fared over the weekend.
Ricardo Allen, S, Atlanta Falcons
The former Mainland star recorded five tackles in Atlanta's 24-15 loss to Philadelphia.
Allen now has 56 tackles this season, good for third on the team.
Leonard Williams. DL, New York Jets
Williams had a strong game last week against Miami, but was quiet in Sunday's loss to the Rams, recording just four tackles and a quarterback hit.
The ex-Mainland Buccaneer now has 39 tackles, six sacks, and two forced fumbles this season.
Ryan Davis, DL, Dallas Cowboys
After being inactive for a few weeks, the former B-CU star saw some action in the Cowboys' 35-30 win over Pittsburgh, playing 18 snaps but not recording a tackle.
It's been a down season for Davis, who was cut by Jacksonville before Week 1, but quickly signed with Dallas. However, he's done very little since joining the Cowboys.
Over the first two years in the league, Davis has 24 tackles, 11 sacks, and three forced fumbles.
Facing a 10-point deficit early in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys defense faced the tall task of stopping the Eagles offense. Philadelphia had scored on their previous two drives and the Dallas offense had struggled to close the deficit. If the Eagles score on this drive, it’s likely the game is put too far out of reach.
Fortunately for the team, Terrell McClain made a huge play to spark the Cowboys and inspired their comeback.
Philadelphia is in 12 personnel (two tight ends and one running back) with both tight ends to the left side of the formation and the wide receiver to that side also brought in close. The Eagles are clearly telegraphing a run to the strong side but they could choose to run a play-action fake. They are in the area of the field where coaches like to take riskier chances, usually deep shots down the field.
Dallas doesn’t overreact to the heavy formation. Marinelli has them in a 4-3 under-like front with Damien Wilson, who usually plays SAM linebacker, down at the line of scrimmage. Normally, the down linebacker in a 4-3 under is to the strong side of the formation. The goal of the front is for the linebackers and defensive lineman to funnel the ballcarrier to the weak side (WILL) linebacker.
Instead Wilson is down at the line of scrimmage on the weak side. This puts Dallas at a disadvantage in this situation as Sean Lee becomes the effective SAM linebacker. His job thus goes from knifing through the mess to get the ballcarrier to taking on blockers to free up other guys. Luckily for the team, it doesn’t come back to bite them.
As the play starts, Philadelphia reveals they intend to run behind the pulling right guard to the strong side. The non-pulling linemen block down and the hole should either be between the tight ends and the right guard or to the outside.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the play design allows the Cowboys best defensive lineman to shoot the gap left by the pulling right guard. McClain is untouched as he penetrates through the line and has a straight shot to running back Wendell Smallwood.
Making matters worse for Philadelphia, Tyrone Crawford has absolutely abused rookie right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai. The veteran end simply bulls his way through the younger linemen knocking him to the ground. Had he maintained his legs, Vaitai might have been able to block Crawford down into McClain, slowing both up and giving Smallwood the time to get outside.
Instead, McClain meets Smallwood almost immediately and with a single swipe knocks the ball from his grasp. The rest of the Dallas defenders converge and Crawford recovers the fumble.
Until the forced fumble, the Cowboys defense had its share of struggles trying to contain the Eagles offense. After? They forced three straight punts and provided enough opportunities for the offense to find its rhythm. Unlike 2015, the 2016 Dallas defense can be counted on to win games.