The confetti had barely fallen to the turf of U.S. Bank Stadium and the first Eagles fan had yet to fall from a light pole when thoughts turned to the 2018-19 NFL season.
Football is a year-round sport.
Feb. 20 is the first day for clubs to designate franchise or transition players.
But then the action gets going with the NFL Combine scheduled for Feb. 27 through March 5.
Three area East Texans have been invited to the annual event — Texas Tech wide receivers Dylan Cantrell of Whitehouse and KeKe Coutee of Lufkin; and North Texas running back Jeffery Wilson of Elkhart.
Here is the pre-evaluation from NFL.com about the Piney Woods kids:
Cantrell (6-3, 212) — Texas Tech’s offense has produced some prolific receivers over the past decade, and Cantrell’s the next pass-catcher trying to continue that success at the next level. He was a four-star recruit from Whitehouse, before joining Tech, and receiving playing time right away, playing in 11 games as a back-up and catching nine passes for 70 yards and a score. Cantrell started six games the following year (20 receptions, 312 yards, two touchdowns in 12 games), but then had to redshirt the 2015 season due to a back injury. He missed two games with an injury in 2016, as well, but was still one of the team’s top receivers (58 receptions, 675 yards, eight touchdowns in 10 starts). Cantrell received honorable mention All-Big 12 notice from league coaches in 2017, starting all 13 games and catching 71 passes for 816 yards and seven scores.
Coutee (5-11, 180) — Key’vantanie Coutee, who goes by his nickname “Keke,” hopes to be the next Texas Tech receiver to make an impact in the NFL, following in the footsteps of Michael Crabtree and Wes Welker. He earned second-team All-Big 12 honors in 2017, ranking fourth in the FBS with 1,429 receiving yards on 93 catches (ranked sixth in FBS) with 10 touchdowns. He finished his career with an 11-reception, 187-yard, one-score effort against South Florida in the Birmingham Bowl. Coutee (pronounced cue-TEE) showed some versatility by returning 10 kickoffs for 315 yards, including a 92-yard touchdown. As a sophomore, he showed great promise, starting two of 12 games played and covering 890 yards and scoring seven touchdowns on 55 receptions. Coutee earned honorable mention all-conference recognition with that production. The four-star recruit from Lufkin stayed in-state to play ball in the Red Raiders’ wide-open offense. His choice was rewarded as he played in all 13 games, starting two, posting 11 receptions for 105 yards.
Wilson (6-0, 194) — Wilson rushed for more than 5,000 yards and 60 touchdowns over his last two Elkhart High School seasons, earning all-state recognition each year. Still, he was rated a two-star prospect and wound up in Denton. As a freshman, Wilson played in a reserve role (50 rushes, 224 yards, one touchdown; five receptions, 41 yards, one touchdown). He first led the Mean Green in rushing in 2015 (155 attempts, 830 yards, one touchdown; 12 receptions, 71 yards; 12 kick returns for 279 yards), despite missing two games due to injury (he started seven of 10 games played). Wilson also missed two games with an injury in 2016 but managed to lead the team in rushing again (169 carries, 936 yards) and scored 14 times on the ground. He was also a factor in the passing game, with 29 receptions covering 247 yards and a touchdown.
It is basically a four-day job interview before the NFL Draft. Players have to be invited to the combine and perform in front of executives, coaches, scouts and doctors from all 32 NFL teams.
The drills are 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone drill (change directions at high speed) and shuttle run (It is known as the 5-10-5. What it tests is the athlete’s lateral quickness and explosion in short areas.).
Some other players invited include: QB Austin Allen, Arkansas; WR Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State; OT Orlando Brown, Oklahoma; WR D.J. Chark, LSU; C Will Clapp, LSU; DE Marcus Davenport, UT San Antonio; P Michael Dickson, Texas; S DeShon Elliott; QB Danny Etling, LSU; RB Dimitri Flowers, Oklahoma; S Tre Flowers, Oklahoma State; DE John Franklin-Meyers of Greenville, SFA; RB Derrius Guice, LSU; DT Zaycoven Henderson of Longview, Texas A&M; G Will Hernandez, UTEP; RB Kyle Hicks, TCU; CB Holton Hill, Texas; CB Donte Jackson, LSU; OLB Malik Jefferson, Texas; DE Arden Key, LSU; WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M; WR Chris Lacey, Oklahoma State; G K.J. Malone, LSU; QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; OT Joseph Noteboom; OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma; WR Trey Quinn, SMU; C Frank Ragnow, Arkansas; QB Mason Randolph, Oklahoma State; QB Nic Shimonek, Texas Tech; WR Courtland Sutton, SMU; CB Thomas Jordan, Oklahoma; CB Henré Toliver, Arkansas; CB Kevin Toliver, LSU; P Shane Tripucka, Texas A&M; RB Chris Warren III, Texas; WR James Washington, Oklahoma State; S Armani Watts, Texas A&M; OT Toby Weathersby, LSU; OT Conner Williams, Texas; and RB Darrell Williams, LSU.
You would think with that many Longhorns invited Texas would have won a few more games.
Another East Texas Super Bowl participant
I left at least one person off the ET Super Bowl list in Tuesday’s column – Billy Ray Newsome of Jacksonville.
Mary Alice Adamson, of Jacksonville, wrote me a nice email. She worked with Newsome’s sister and once when he was visiting her at work, Mrs. Adamson got her son, an avid football fan, his autograph.
Newsome was born in Jacksonville in 1948 where he played high school football at Fred Douglas High School, followed by college football at Grambling State University. He played for four professional teams, but was playing with the Baltimore Colts when they beat the Dallas Cowboys 16-13 in Super Bowl V in Miami.
Newsome, a defensive tackle and defensive end, played for the Colts from 1970 to 1972, followed by the New Orleans Saints (1973-74), New York Jets (1975-76) and Chicago Bears (1977).
Thank you Mrs. Adamson.
If I left anyone else out, please email me at email@example.com.