As they wrestle with where to place players on their draft board, one thing that carries value for the Tennessee Titans personnel department is a background in wrestling.
It was apparent in the 2012 draft, which included second-round pick Zach Brown, undefeated (29-0 with 17 pins) as a high school heavyweight in Maryland, and third-round choice Mike Martin, a Michigan state champion as a high school junior. A year ago, one of their most productive rookies was defensive tackle Karl Klug, whose personal athletic history includes plenty of time spent in a mat room.
“It’s something that to me, when a guy has been a wrestler, especially when he has been a successful wrestler, it says something about his toughness and his commitment,” general manager Ruston Webster said.
The benefits of wrestling for interior linemen — both offensive and defensive — are obvious.
Players attempting to block or shed blocks use their hands, react to the shifting weight of a player with whom they are engaged and try to gain an advantage through leverage. All are central elements to wrestling.
When the Titans spent their second-round draft pick on linebacker Zach Brown and their third-round draft pick on defensive tackle Mike Martin, they saw one aspect of the players’ backgrounds that they particularly liked: Both were successful high school wrestlers.
Titans General Manager Ruston Webster said the team views it as a plus when players on the draft board have a background as a wrestler.
“It’s something that to me, when a guy has been a wrestler, especially when he has been a successful wrestler, it says something about his toughness and his commitment,” Webster told the Nashville City Paper.
Drafting a player with a wrestling background worked last year when fifth-round defensive tackle Karl Klug led the team with seven sacks as a rookie. Webster said he’ll keep looking for wrestling backgrounds when he’s looking for promising prospects in the draft.
“To me, wrestlers do have that natural leverage, and they understand leverage and they understand how to use their hands,” Webster said, “and typically they are tough guys.”
Add Cole Konrad’s name to the list of former top college wrestlers who want to play in the NFL.
The two-time NCAA heavyweight champ for the University of Minnesota in 2006 and 2007 tried out for the Minnesota Vikings in April.
Konrad, who hasn’t played organized football since he was a high school freshman, was granted the opportunity to meet with the organization, and was put through a brief set of drills for offensive linemen.
In an article originally published in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Konrad’s college wrestling coach, J Robinson, is quoted as saying, “What I heard is someone from the Vikings grabbed a tackling dummy, held it up and told Cole, ‘Go ahead, hit me as hard as you can.’ And Cole knocked the guy right on his butt.”
The former Golden Gopher heavyweight was a bit more modest in his account to the Star-Tribune. “I knocked the guy back quite a ways, and the dummy flew up in the air,” said Konrad, a four-time NCAA All-American on the mat for Minnesota. “I think that was the deciding factor in the long run.”
Among several Vikings and other football prospects working out for seven NFL scouts Wednesday at the Gophers’ indoor facility was Kole Conrad, a two-time NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion for the Gophers.
Conrad, 24, who has received interest from the New York Jets, checked in at 6 feet 3, 316 pounds. He gave up football as a high school freshman in Wisconsin to focus on wrestling but now wants to become an NFL guard or center. He would love to play for the hometown Vikings but would welcome a chance anywhere.
“I wanted to be the best at what I was doing (wrestling), but I got to the point in my life where I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue, which means I definitely should not continue,” Conrad said. “Football has always interested me, so I figured I’d give it a shot and see where I stand.”
None of the two dozen prospects who worked out were overwhelming, which is why the best they probably can hope for is to be a late-round pick in next month’s NFL draft or to get free-agent opportunities.
Mir defeats Lesnar in 1st round
Ex-champion spoils former WWE wrestler’s UFC debut
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira took the UFC interim heavyweight title, forcing former two-time champion Tim Sylvia to tap in the third round on Saturday night.
In the co-main event, former heavyweight champion Frank Mir spoiled former NCAA wrestling champion Brock Lesnar’s UCF debut, grabbing Lesnar’s leg and securing a kneebar that forced him to submit at 1:30 of the first round.
Nogueira took the title vacated when Randy Couture suddenly retired from the organization.
Sylvia showed superior striking, repeatedly landing punches throughout a dominant first round. Sylvia defended Nogueira’s takedown attempts and landed effective punches in the second round.
But in the third round, Nogueira reversed a Sylvia takedown and gained side control. Sylvia was able to escape side control, only to fall directly into a guillotine choke which forced him to tap 1:28 seconds into the round.
Nate Marquardt beat Jeremy Horn, finishing off the veteran of more than 100 MMA fights by guillotine choke 1:37 seconds into the second round, and Ricardo Almeida defeated Rob Yundt by guillotine choke at 1:08 in the first round.
“You are going to be thinking about it. There’s no way around that.” These are the words of Cael Sanderson, one of the few Americans who can speak directly to the experience of being athletically perfect. During his four years as an Iowa State wrestler, Sanderson went 159-0. He is the only wrestler in Division I history to go undefeated in more than 100 matches.
“I think I thought more about how I would answer the media’s questions,” he said. “After my freshman year, I knew I wanted to go undefeated, but I also knew I had to keep my focus simple and direct. However, that means giving a boring media interview. I had to focus on being my best for the next match, and I had to move my feet and attack with my hands. It had to be that simple. I would guess that the Patriots are very aware of the magnitude of what they are doing.”
(Larry Owings shocks Dan Gable at the 142 lb finals at the 1970 NCAAs… handing the Cyclone his only loss in HS and college in his very last college match. — Moderator’s caption)
This was posted at the Wrestling Talk forum, apparently originally posted by King Cole himself at The Guillotine website…
The text of this message has been posted in the FILES section of NCAA Heavyweight Champs 2
Well i said i would hop on here and give an update as to how the weekend went, so im staying true to my word.
As im sure many of you noticed, i was upfront with the Jets on the importance of my wrestling and one way or the other both Tommy and I weren’t planning on staying past monday night. It was three days to showcase our skills… (i would say natural skills but i dont believe in ‘natural skills’) So mainly what they were looking for was our foot speed, and most importantly balance. Everyday we went from 6 am until 10pm learning everything you could imagine in the football world; plays, strategies, calls with different formations from the defense, and actually a lot about the press and displaying a positive image… which is quite tricky actually, you would be surprised how the press phrases questions to get arrogant sounding responses even when its not intended that way (i saw how that happened to a guy and will likely never believe an arrogant quote i see again, you only here a response… not the question). Then twice a day we took to the field working plays, foot drills, bag drills, conditioning, even once a guy who trains pro boxers came in and we did a boxing workout which was a lot of fun. All in all it was a great experience and i would do it again in a heartbeat.
College wrestlers attend Jets’ minicamp
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Sports Writer
Sun May 13, 4:19 PM ET
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Cole Konrad looked down at the football gear spread out in front of his locker, shook his head and smiled.
“There’s tons of stuff here,” Konrad said with a laugh Sunday in the New York Jets’ locker room.
Konrad, a two-time NCAA wrestling champion at Minnesota, is used to wearing very little while competing in his natural sport. As one of 51 players participating in the Jets’ rookie minicamp, Konrad is in new surroundings, with a multipiece football uniform and helmet replacing his usual wrestling singlet and head gear.
“Football’s foreign to me, just like a lot of these guys would feel if they tried wrestling,” said Konrad, wearing a gray Minnesota Wrestling T-shirt. “I’m just learning every day as I’m coming in here. Everything’s new to me.”
He’s not alone. Tommy Rowlands, also a two-time NCAA wrestling champ from Ohio State, is in camp with the Jets on a tryout. The two wrestlers are roommates during the three-day camp — and opponents on the mat.
Five years ago, life was a lot different for Stephen Neal. At times struggling financially, his future was in limbo. He was training for the U.S. Nationals, where he looked to become the top U.S. heavyweight again.
Just one year earlier, Neal was the defending World champion, before getting unseated by Kerry McCoy in 2000. But going into the 2001 U.S. Nationals, Neal knew it would be his last year as a wrestler – no matter what happened. He had made the choice to try out for NFL scouts and work to be signed as a free agent.
Improbable? Neal did not play football in college. Impossible? His mix of size, strength and athleticism made him an interesting prospect for any team that had nothing to lose by taking a risk.
There were other options, too. Kurt Angle had become a star entertainer for the WWE, and Neal had been approached by their executives. But that was not a life he was interested in.
Marvin Lewis is in his third season as Bengals head coach, following two campaigns during which he has re-established the team as a playoff contender while attracting fan support in record numbers.
Lewis has led the Bengals to consecutive 8-8 records. In his rookie head coaching season of 2003, Cincinnati was the NFL’s most improved team, and he finished second behind Bill Belichick of New England in Associated Press voting for NFL Coach of the Year. In 2004, Lewis guided the Bengals to a .500 finish while QB Carson Palmer was seeing his first NFL action, and also while adjusting to injuries that sent 18 players to season-ending medical reserve lists.
The Bengals have set regular-season home attendance records each of the past two years, last year topping the half-million mark for the first time with a total of 524,248. All eight games were sellouts, marking the franchise’s first such sellout sweep since 1992 at Riverfront Stadium.
The first seven games on the 2004 schedule drew the seven largest crowds in team history, including a record 65,806 for the Oct. 25 Monday night contest vs. Denver. The Bengals enter the 2005 season with a streak of 11 straight regular season sellouts, dating back through the last three games of 2003.