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Gesture of the month: Michigan makes a fan's dream come true

Stephen Loszewski sat at a table. Hats representing Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame rested in front of him. If you knew anything about what happened earlier that day, you would know which hat he picked up.

A native of Grain Valley, Mo., Loszewski had to give up his high school football career after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) three and a half years ago. Though his days on the field were done, Loszewski never dropped his dream of being recruited his beloved Michigan Wolverines. 

After years of beating his disease into remission, Loszewski submitted his wish to the Make-A-Wish Foundation: to be a Michigan football recruit for a day. Unbeknownst to him, Make-A-Wish, Michigan and ESPN began working behind the scenes to make it happen.

It started with former Wolverine and current St. Louis Ram Jake Long driving across the state to hand deliver recruiting letters from the Michigan coaching staff. "When Jake Long came to my house, I basically left myself open to just about anything that could happen," Loszewski told MLive.com.

Earlier this week, the entire Loszewski family flew to Ann Arbor and the proverbial maize and blue carpet was rolled out. They toured the facilities. They watched film with coaches. They had separate one-on-one meetings with head coach Brady Hoke and athletics director Dave Brandon. They had lunch with quarterback Devin Gardner and linebacker Jake Ryan.

Then, Loszewski got to do what he and so many others dream of, but very few actually get to do. He donned a No. 57 jersey and a winged helmet, ran down the tunnel and slapped that famous "Go Blue" midfield banner you've certainly seen a thousand times before. 

"The greatest moment for me, to see him strap a helmet on again, when I thought he never would … was very, very special and it's a moment I'll never forget," said his father, Greg.

After addressing the team, Loszewski turned around and saw Desmond Howard standing there, waiting to meet Michigan's prized recruit. (ESPN will air a segment of the day later this summer.)

Then Loszewski headed to the Crisler Center, where those four hats waited for him.

"I want to say," Loszewski said, "this decision could not have been less difficult."

Read the full story here.

How defensive coordinators are innovating on their side of the ball

Offensive innovation is sexy and fun to watch, but innovative defensive coaches often don't get the love they deserve (and granted, most of them are fine with things that way). 

That's partly why this piece from ESPN is worth pointing out, well that and it has some excellent coaching points in it from some of the best defensive minds in the game. The article is a great read on how defensive coaches have had to innovate on the heels of some of the most explosive offenses college football has ever seen over the past few seasons.

You really need to read the full article from Adam Rittenberg, but I've plucked out a few things of interest to the coaching community.

- Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop on what's important to defensive coordinators now: "It's not so much being a dominant defense any more. It's about being good on third down, it's about being good at takeaways, it's about being a good red-zone defense and forcing teams to kick field goals. Those are the things defensive coordinators across the country are talking about."

"It's all about possessions. How do you steal possessions?" Shoop added.

- Finding ways to communicate calls quick is key: Defensive coordinator calls have slimmed down to one word, (Jeremy Pruitt), even one syllable (Bob Shoop), Jim Knowles' defensive calls at Duke consist of one word that means something different to each position group.

- Disguising fronts and coverages isn't all that important: Derek Mason recalls advice he received from longtime defensive assistant Willie Shaw, the father of Stanford head coach David Shaw: "Half the time, they know what you're in anyway. They've still got to execute, so don't put your guys in a position where they're going to fool themselves." Mason recalled. "Hey, I'd like to be able to roll coverage and show disguises all the time, but there's something to be said about being lined up in the right place at the right time."

- Jeremy Pruitt's first question about a potential defensive recruit: "What position is he going to play on third down?" Pruitt asks. "If he doesn't have one, we don't need to be recruiting him."

This article is full of great coaching content for both side of the ball, but especially defensive guys. Read it all here.

Photos: Ball State has new black unis and a matte black helmet

Ball State has revealed some sick new all black unis with matte black lids for this fall.

I'm selfishly hoping that Ball State filmed the players' reaction to the new unis to see if it compares to Ohio's reaction when they were rewarded with their all black unis. 

These are pretty sweet. Gotta love the black from head to toe look.

 

Announcing the Second Annual FootballScoop Video of the Year contest

Back by popular demand, the Second Annual FootballScoop Video of the Year contest will be held in the coming weeks. 

A quick refresher: we are inviting videos of all sort to be submitted from every school, college or high school. The competition will be split into three divisions - FBS, college (encompassing everything from FCS to NAIA) and high school. Videos of any sort are accepted and encouraged, recruiting videos, pre-game hype videos, highlight films, behind-the-scenes videos. Only one video per school will be accepted, so give us your best shot. 

Here are last year's winners:

Like last year, the finalists and winners will be announced in early-to-mid July. Further details are still in the works, but know that submissions are due by Friday, June 27. That's 17 days from today. Remember, any sort of video is accepted, but only one submission per school. Videos can be submitted from as far back as July 2013, the date of last year's contest. 

Last year's event was incredibly successful and fun for all involved, and we can't wait to do it again. The quality we received from across the spectrum completely blew our judges away, and we know the bar inside the video industry has only been raised in the 12 months since. 

Good luck, everyone. 

WHO: Every football program in America
WHAT: 
Second Annual FootballScoop Video of the Year Contest
WHEN: Submissions due by Friday, June 27
WHERE: Send embeddable video links (i.e., YouTube or Vimeo) to  or @FootballScoop.

 


 

The AFL is mandating helmet sensors. How long before the NFL and NCAA follow suit?

Yesterday, the Arena Football League became the first professional sports league to require their players to wear Brain Sentry helmet sensors that warn players, coaches, officials, and trainers of impact on the head/neck that could lead to possible concussions.

If you're unaware of the Brain Sentry product, it attaches to the back of the helmet and anytime the helmet receives an impact that exceeds a pre-set limit, a red light flashes to tell officials that the player needs to come out of the game and be evaluated with the training staff. The sensors not only measure the impact, but also measure the angle of the hit, and can calculate the severity based on the different angles of impact.

According to research shared with the AFL by Brain Sentry co-founder Greg Merril, most "catastrophic brain injuries are the result of second impacts to already concussed athletes. It’s critically important to easily obtain as much information as possible,". The American Journal of Sports Medicine states that as many as 39% of high school and college football players who suffered catastrophic head injuries were playing with concussions symptoms during the time of their injury.

In theory attaching technology like this to the back of helmets makes a ton of sense beyond the AFL, so how long before the NFL and NCAA follow suit?

“For me personally, I think the era of ‘dumb helmets’, in which you have no clue how many impacts that brain inside that helmet has sustained, is quickly coming to an end,” neurosurgeon Julian Bates, who has worked as a consultant with the NCAA and NFLPA, said in an official AFL release. “I think sensors are a big part of the solution for football.”

On paper, this seems like a great idea. Why wouldn't we attach a small sensor to the back of helmets to aid in player safety?

My only concern is for positions like offensive and defensive lineman, or linebackers who smash faces on nearly every single play. Will we be mass-subbing players as the light blinks red play after play? For example, after a linebacker meets a fullback in the hole on an iso play or when an offensive lineman kicks out a defensive tackle on a trap play each time? My point is that there are a thousand different collisions during a football game, and not all of them lead to concussions or concussion like symptoms. 

The Arena League will be a great barometer for receivers and defensive backs, but it isn't going to be the perfect testing ground for how the technology works with offensive and defensive lineman, and linebackers in college football and the NFL, all positions that have a much different role when compared their counterparts in the Arena League.

Even if it isn't a perfect cross section to study for the NCAA and NFL, a lot of coaches, athletic directors and administrators, and trainers will be keeping a close eye on how this plays out on the Arena level.

In the name of player safety, I know 99% of coaches are willing to try nearly anything logical to keep our kids safe, myself included. So this seems like a no-brainer eventually. I can see the NFL using this kind of technology in training camp and preseason sooner rather than later, and the NCAA will likely follow suit, and it won't take long for it to trickle down from there to high school and youth coaches.

So NFL or NCAA, the ball is now in your court.

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