Jake Long

Jameis Winston expected to end ACC’s No. 1 overall draft pick drought

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If Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is the first draft entrant to hear his name called tonight by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, he will be the second ACC player since 2000 to be named the number one overall draft pick. That would bring an end to the longest stretch among power conferences between top overall draft picks. Winston is widely considered to be the top choice for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who own the first pick in this evening’s NFL Draft.

Calling it a drought may be a tad harsh, but every power conference has had at least one number one overall pick since the last time the ACC had N.C. State’s Mario Williams be drafted with the first pick in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. Since then the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and even the MAC have had a top pick. Assuming Winston goes first overall, the new longest stretch between top picks will be handed to the Big Ten. Michigan’s Jake Long was the most recent top pick from the conference in 2008.

No conference has had more top overall draft picks than — surprise, surprise — the SEC. The SEC has had five players drafted with the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft. Last year it was South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney.

Whether it is Winston or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, the history suggests the odds are good one of the quarterbacks will be the first pick. Since 2000, a quarterback has been the top pick in 10 NFL Drafts. Stanford’s Andrew Luck was the most recent in 2012.

Top Overall NFL Draft Picks Since 2000

2000 – DE Courtney Brown, Penn State (Big Ten)

2001 – QB Michael Vick, Virginia Tech (Big East)

2002 – QB David Carr, Fresno State (WAC)

2003 – QB Carson Palmer, USC (Pac-10)

2004 – QB Eli Manning, Ole Miss (SEC)

2005 – QB Alex Smith, Utah (Mountain West Conference)

2006 – DE Mario Williams, North Carolina State (ACC)

2007 – QB JaMarcus Russell, LSU (SEC)

2008 – OT Jake Long, Michigan (Big Ten)

2009 – QB Matthew Stafford, Georgia (SEC)

2010 – QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (Big 12)

2011 – QB Cam Newton, Auburn (SEC)

2012 – QB Andrew Luck, Stanford (Pac-12)

2013 – OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan (MAC)

2014 – DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina (SEC)

2015 – ?

Wolverines grant young cancer fighter his wish

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Tired of all the talk about trials and unions and arrests as we await the start of a new season?  If so, here’s something that could brighten your day.  And give you goosebumps.  And make the room kind of dusty. Eighteen-year-old Stephen Loszewski has been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia for nearly four years, but thankfully he’s in remission. Still, the Make-A-Wish Foundation was able to make the life-long Michigan football fan’s dream of becoming a UM recruit come true. And both the school and the foundation did it in style.

A few weeks back, Jake Long knocked on Loszewski’s door. The current St. Louis Rams offensive tackle and former Michigan Wolverine arrived armed with letters from U-M coaches to begin the recruiting process. The two sat in the family living room talking about football and life and everything in between.

DesmondTuesday, Loszewski had meetings with head coach Brady Hoke and athletic director Dave Brandon and lunch with a couple of current players. He spent 10 minutes with UM legend Desmond Howard, who flew in just for the festivities and afterwards wrote on his Twitter account “[t]hank you @umichfootball + @espn for giving me the opportunity to be a part of Stephen Loszewski’s #MyWish.” Later on, UM officials gave the former high school football player — he was forced to step away from the game after his diagnosis — an official signing day atmosphere, replete with a table and four hats — UM, Ohio State, Michigan State and Notre Dame. The cap ceremony ended in expected fashion. “I want to say, this decision could not have been less difficult,” Loszewski. “I’m going to go with the Big Blue.” The pièce de résistance, however, occurred between the ceremony and meetings.

Around 4 p.m., an echo reverberated out to the field of Michigan Stadium. Hooting and hollering rang from the tunnel. Up in the shadows, where the Wolverines’ locker room leads to the field, Stephen Loszewski jumped and bounced and bonded with the entire University of Michigan football team. Wearing a blue jersey — No. 57, LOSZEWSKI — U-M’s top recruit led the team onto field. Stephen Loszewski addressed his new teammates at the 50-yard line. “I want to do battle with you gentlemen,” he said.

Said Loszewski’s father Greg,”It’s amazing what people have done for my little old son.” Yes, yes it is. Bravo, UM, for making this young man’s dream come true. Truly a classy and selfless gesture. (Photo credit: Ann Arbor News)