LIFE IS A JOURNEY OF CROSSING PATHS AS WE TAKE DIFFERENT STEPS EACH MOMENT!
Plaquemine, Louisiana – As we travel on our Life-Journey, we are constantly crossing paths where we make different decisions that can change lives forever. When we meet people, we either change their lives or not make a change in their life or our life. At my Super Elite Top Gun Football Camps, Super Combines, and All-American Bowl Game Classics, lives are sometimes changed forever. I always tell our players to always do their best and never let-up, because they sometimes will never know who is watching them or scouting them and so they need to be the best that they can be on every single play. “Will my coaches or I remember you for what you did when we crossed your path today or will we never remember you?”
Brusly, Louisiana – Every Friday night during the football season for the last several years, I have tried to go to as many high school football games to scout and find some players who have been “Flying Under the Recruiting Radar” to college coaches. On Friday night, I went to Brusly to scout three Brusly seniors: QB Jay Christophe (6-4, 200, 4.6), RB Dimario Jackson (5-10, 165, 4.5), CB Terrance West (5-11, 165, 4.5); plus juniors DT Montel Williams (6-0, 240, 5.0) and WR Travin Thibodaux (6-7, 185, 4.6).
Brusly (6-1, 2-0) was playing St Charles Catholic (4-2, 2-0) who has been one of the top teams in the State of Louisiana for the last few years under Coach Frank Monica and this game would probably be for the District 7-3A Championship. St Charles won the 3A State Championship in 2011 with a perfect 15-0 record. I saw them play against Port Allen in 2011 and I found three players from St Charles in that game to play in my 2012 Eighth Annual All-American Bowl Game, including CB Jeff Hall (6-0, 180, 4.4), DE La’Jaylin Smith (6-0, 215, 4.6), and RB Lazedrick Thompson (6-1, 215, 4.4). Hall and Smith played in our game and were outstanding. Thompson was injured, but he was on the sideline with his game jersey. Brusly DE Jarred Allen (6-4, 240, 4.7) also played in the 2012 All-American Bowl Game. And he was also very impressive.
A lot of times, there are no game programs and I have got to do my quick research before the game so I will know what the jersey numbers are for the players that I want to scout. What is fun sometimes is when I ask someone about these players, I find a fan, a Facebook or Linkedin Friend, or a subscriber to one of my Newsletters. On Friday night, I really was amazed at some of the people and coaches on the sideline that I met. Now remember!
The Universe places us in different places at different times to cross paths with people that we do not know or even know about them, but we are placed in a situation to meet them. Friday night, I crossed paths with a lot of people. I met Coach Trevor Dupont who knows my brother-in-law, Frank Pasqua. I also met one of the Brusly football coaches in Coach Chris Raymond, who also knows Frank and his younger sister Ginger Pasqua Emfinger, my wife. Coach Raymond introduced me to Brusly running back Coach Chris Butler who is a former Brusly player and who also played at SMU.
All of those meetings were for reasons that I will find out later although both Coach Raymond and Coach Butler were very interested and might be two of my 2013 Ninth Annual All-American Bowl Game Classic coaches if we can get some sponsors.
All of these people that I met were icing on the big cake to what might be the biggest reason that I was placed in Brusly on Friday night. There was only about five minutes left in the game. I was just about getting ready to get my attache-case and leave the football field so I could beat the crowd away from the stadium, and get out of the parking lot, when I looked over and saw this coach who apparently was given a game program.
“Coach, how did you get that game program. I looked for one for a few minutes, but found out that they did not print programs for this game.” I also got all of my numbers accurate and I asked him who he was looking at and he said: “We like Christophe, Jackson, and West for Brusly and we also like St Charles H-Back Brandon Zimmer and DE Luke Jackson.” At this point, I introduced myself to this coach who was wearing an Arkansas Pine Bluff jacket and I found out that it was Coach Dennis Winston.
I have actually known about Coach Winston for about forty years and I have communicated with him by Email or Facebook for about the last five years, since he has been at Pine Bluff, but we have never met. After we embraced with a huge hug, we talked about some of the players in the State of Louisiana. I told him about some players to check-out and he told me about some to check out. Then he asked me about my All-American Bowl Game. I told him that I had promised my wife Ginger that I would not do another game unless we could get a major sponsor. “I think that I can help you with a major sponsor and I’ll call you next week with details,” said Coach Winston.
Coach Winston played for The University of Arkansas from 1973-76 and he was Drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1977, the year after I left the Dallas Cowboys Staff. He played for the Steelers for seven years, including Super Bowl XIII. He also played for the New Orleans Saints for four years. An interesting fact about Coach Winston is that he recruited about five players that played in our 2012 All-American Bowl Game, and we talked and exchanged emails on them before and after our game.
After getting into my car and coming home from the Brusly Stadium, I realized that this was truly a Very Special night, but I also realized later, on Saturday, that Friday night was only the First Chapter of my Weekend Journey.
Plaquemine, Louisiana – Right now, I am involved with two Football Newsletters. One is a Louisiana High School Weekly MVP Newsletter, and the other is a College Football Weekly MVP Newsletter. So on Saturday, I am sitting in front of two TV’s with two clickers, trying to watch at least three or four College Football games at the same time, all day and night. This past Saturday was no different.
The first games on Saturday were the 11:00 A.M. games, including LSU and Texas A&M; and Virginia Tech and Clemson. Then the 2:30 games, including Texas Tech and TCU; South Carolina and Florida; Nebraska and Northwestern; and the NC State and Maryland games. Then at 6:00, the Kansas State and West Virginia; and the Alabama and Tennessee. And lastly, North Carolina and Duke; Middle Tennessee and Mississippi State; and Baylor and Texas. I had plans to see all of these games or at least the greater part of all of them, but it sure was not going to be easy sneaking a nap in there somewhere. I did, however, sneak a one-hour nap after the Texas Tech game and just before the Kansas State game started.
Now, I’m telling you all of this, because some strange things started to happen. While flipping the channels back and forth from the LSU/A&M game to the Clemson/Virginia Tech games, an eerie pattern started to take place. Every time that I would change the channel, I would see a player that was either in one of my All-American Bowl Game Classics, or in one of my Super Elite Top Gun Camps.
For LSU, RB Jeremy Hill, WR Odell Beckham, and FS Ronald Martin were in my 2010 Super Elite Top Gun Camp,and they were stars in this game. Punter Brad Wing and Martin committed to play in the 2011 All-American Bowl Game Classic, but both were injured and did not play. In this game, Hill rushed for 127-yards and scored a touchdown on a 47-yard run; Martin had three solo tackles and caused a fumble; Beckham caught four passes for 35-yards; and Wing averaged 45.1-yards on 10 punts and had a 65-yard punt. WR Jarvis Landry was also on my 2010 Louisiana Super Select 7on7 Team. All of these Tigers helped beat the Aggies by a 24-19 score.
I also know most all of the LSU coaches, including Head Coach Les Miles, but I have been personal friends with Defensive Line Coach Brick Haley ever since he was on the Baylor coaching staff. I am also personal friends with DT Mickey Johnson who had one solo tackle and one quarterback hurry; and also personal friends with WR Armand Williams, who was the Game MVP in the 2010 All-American Bowl Game Classic.
For Texas A&M, DE Damontre Moore and WR LeKendrick Williams played in my 2010 All-American Bowl Game Classic. Moore recorded ten tackles, including eight solo tackles, and two tackles for a loss and a sack Williams was injured and did not play.
When Texas A&M Offensive Coordinator Kliff Kingsbury came out of New Braunsfels high school in 1998, I thought that he was fabulous, but he was not being heavily recruited and so I called my good friend, Coach Jackie Sherrill, at Mississippi State and helped to get Kingsbury an official visit to the Bulldogs. The problem was that Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, LSU, and Oklahoma had already taken a quarterback and did not have room for another one, although he might be another All-American. Drew Brees had the same situation when he came out of high school.
In the Clemson/Virginia Tech game, the TV cameras were always focused on either Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney or Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris. Back when Swinney was a Recruiting Coordinator, we used to talk recruiting on a regular basis. In 2009, when Coach Morris was the Head Football Coach at Austin Lake Travis High School, I was on his sideline for two games in scouting FS Hunter Akers, the son of Danny Akers and the Grandson of Fred Akers, and a couple other players for my 2010 All-American Bowl Game Classic. Also, in watching the Clemson game, it was evident that Clemson DT Grady Jarrett was one of their dominant players on defense and he finished with six tackles, including three solo tackles. Jarrett was unbelievable in 2009 and came to our Lineman Super Elite Top Gun Camp, in the Summer of 2010. I also have been a long-time friend of Clemson Recruiting Coordinator Jeff Scott.
Both of the Lake Travis Football games were in the Texas 4A State Playoffs. The other players that I really liked were juniors including QB Michael Brewer, who later signed with Texas Tech; OT Taylor Doyle, who later signed with Texas; and two receivers, Conner Floyd and Tanner Gillette. Brewer had just taken over for Garrett Gilbert who had just graduated and he was very impressive. Brewer is currently the backup to Seth Doege at Texas Tech.
In one of those Lake Travis games, former Lake Travis and University of Texas Red-Shirt Freshman QB Garrett Gilbert was on the sideline next to me. Gilbert has since transferred to SMU and he is the Mustangs starting quarterback. Another interesting fact is that my Top Five Quarterbacks in the 2009 Recruiting Class were as follows along with their MEARS RATING: 1. Matt Barkley – 1984 MEARS; 2. Garrett Gilbert – 1970 MEARS; 3. Aaron Murray – 1964 MEARS; 4. Tajh Boyd – 1960 MEARS; and 5. A.J. McCarron –1957 MEARS. All five QB’s were MVP’s this week.
In the 2010 football season, one of the best athletic quarterbacks that I saw was Trevone Boykin of West Mesquite, Texas. I invited him to play in my 2011 All-American Bowl Game Classic and he accepted. We texted, almost weekly, and he was very excited about getting to play in the game, but he was injured at the end of the season and was forced to cancel. So now, it’s time for the 2:30 games. In the TCU/Texas Tech game, Boykin is the starting quarterback for TCU, after getting a chance to play after returning starter, Casey Paschall, from my hometown, Brownwood, got into trouble. I must add, that Pascall had taken over in 2011 for Andy Dalton, who was getting ready to play in my 2006 All-American Bowl Game Classic, but he had an injury in the last game of the season. Dalton was on the sideline and wore his game jersey. Another TCU, former quarterback, Sam Carter, is now playing free safety and he recorded one solo tackle and had one pass breakup. Carter played in our 2010 All-American Bowl Game Classic. I have also been friends with Texas Tech Head Coach Tommy Tuberville for years and Coach Sonny Cumbie and Coach Tommy Mainord for a few years.
Check the paths that crossed in the following mini story! In the summer of 2010, I scheduled four Super Elite Top Gun Camps in Paisley, Florida, just outside of Deland. In the fourth Super Elite Top Gun Camp, we were going to have our Super Skills Camp which would include all of the top skill players in the South. I contacted QB Ronald Martin and Junior RB Tyree Bracken from White Castle; only 10 miles from my house and I told them that they could ride with me to Florida. I already had leased a Mini-Van for the first three Top Gun Camps and I sill had my Mini-Van. Martin and Bracken were Super Stars in 2009. Martin was a two-sport All-State player in football and basketball; while Bracken was a Sophomore Sensation at running back.
Then I got a call from one of the Pineville coaches and he said that he would like for Derrick Milton to go, but that he would need a ride, so I told the coach that Milton could ride with me. Awhile later, I received another call from Ameer Abdullah, in Alabama, and he and a friend wanted to go, but they also needed a ride. This made five players that were going to ride with me in my Mini-Van, so I decided to take my car, plus the Mini-Van. I decided that I could pick-up Martin and Bracken and bring them to my house and then start our journey from my house with two cars. It worked as we picked-up Milton at a gas station in Baton Rouge and Abdullah at a gas station in Mobile.
Paisley, Florida – Ronald Martin, Terrence Tusan, Odell Beckham, Julian Hayes, Derrick Milton, Ameer Abdullah, Marlin Lane, Jeremy Hill, Denzeil Warner, Corey Trim, and Tyree Bracken were not only outstanding at The Annual Max Emfinger 2010 Super Elite Top Gun Camp, but they all were incredible.
Martin was outstanding for both passing quarterback Coaches; Coach Sonny Detmer and Coach John Fourcade and also for wide receiver Coach Wesley Walker. Tusan, from Euless-Trinity, Texas, played cornerback and he and Abdullah were two of the best cover cornerbacks in this skills camp for cornerback Coach Bobby Jackson. Bracken and Hayes were outstanding catching the football for running backs Coach Leon Bray and Bracken ran the fastest forty of any of all of the skill players with a 4.37 clocking. Martin ran a 4.0 flat pro shuttle and had a 39.5 in the vertical jump.
Beckham, Martin, and Warner were outstanding for the whole Super Elite Top Gun Camp, as they continued to make impossible catches, time and time again. In fact, Martin and Beckham made numerous one-handed catches that even had our coaches impressed. Martin and Beckham both signed with LSU. Beckham started as a true freshman for LSU in 2011 and was a Freshman All-American.
Hayes, Milton, Hill, and junior Bracken were the most impressive running backs. Marlin Lane was very impressive at times, but he was still slowed by his junior knee injury and he was still in rehab on it. Bracken had the fastest forty time and was unbelievable at times in catching the football, coming out of the backfield. Milton recorded the best vertical jump when he jumped 41-inches. Milton also recorded a 125-inch Standing Broad Jump. Hayes, made some incredible plays and he weighed 228 pounds when he ran a 4.52 in the forty. Out of all of the great performances, Hayes was voted by the coaches as the Offensive MVP of the Super Elite Top Gun Skills Camp, as Abdullah was voted by the coaches as the Defensive MVP.
Back to my clickers on Saturday. Abdulluh rushed for 101-yards and caught a pass for five yards for Nebraska in their 29-28 victory over Wisconsin; while Milton rushed for 38-yards on three carries and scored a touchdown for Mississippi State as they beat Middle Tennessee by a 45-3 score; and Lane rushed for 55-yards and caught five passes for 48-yards for Tennessee in their 44-13 loss to Alabama. I have been friends with Coach Nick Saban since he was at LSU and I have been friends with other Crimson Tide Coaches, Burton Burns, Lance Thompson, and Bobby Williams for several years. Tennessee Head Coach Derek Dooley and I have been great friends ever since he was recruiting coordinator at LSU. Bracken is a red-shirt freshman for Southern Miss.
So now, it’s 7:00 and it’s time for the Texas and Baylor game on ABC at Texas Memorial Stadium. This Stadium takes me back to some fond old memories. In the Fall of 1960, in this same Memorial Stadium, I rushed for 106-yards and helped the Brownwood Lions to win the 1960 State 3A Football Championship. In the Spring of 1961, also in this Stadium, I was on the Brownwood Mile Relay at the 1961 State Track Meet. And then again, in this Stadium, in the Spring of 1962, I was High Point Man and helped lead the Brownwood Lions to the 1962 State 3A Track Championship. In the Fall of 1962, I also helped lead the Baylor Cubs to a 13-12 victory over the Mighty Texas Shorthorns on their home field. So I have stepped-foot in that Memorial Stadium at least four memorable times. I also was a Red-shirt Sophomore for Baylor in 1963 as the Bears lost 7-0 to Texas. The Longhorns were ranked #1 in the country.
In the Baylor game on Saturday night, Coach Art Briles and I have been friends for over 30 years. We used to talk when he was the Head Football Coach at Stephenville. Then we were friends when he was at Texas Tech and at Houston. Baylor Defensive Coordinator Phil Bennett and I have been friends for many years. Also! Lanear Sampson played in our 2008 All-American Bowl Game Classic. In the game on Saturday night, Sampson caught six passes for 70-yards and a touchdown and extended a 36-game streak with a single catch. Sampson also caught four passes for 109-yards in the West Virginia game. I have been friends with Texas Head Coach Mack Brown and WR Coach Darrell Wyatt for many years since he was on the Baylor Coaching Staff.
We already talked about Milton, at Mississippi State, but Tobias Smith is one of the top Mississippi State offensive linemen and he played in our 2008 All-American Bowl Game Classic. Milton came to our Super Elite Top Gun Camp, without any offers and Smith came to our first practice in 2008 without a single offer.
I have never told this story before, but it is another great example of people crossing paths and the changing of lives forever. In 2007, I thought that Baker Swedenburg was one of the greatest punters that I had ever seen and I invited him to play in the 2008 All-American Bowl Game Classic. He accepted my invite in the summer and he turned in his player applications. Swedenburg had no scholarship offers, but in December, about two weeks before he was supposed to report for our first practice, he got an offer from the Mississippi State Bulldogs and his mom called me to cancel his participation in the game. Then Baker called me about a week later and said that he still wanted to play in the game and I never replaced him on the East Team.
On Monday night, after two practices, as all of our coaches were sitting around in the Hotel Lobby, Coach Mike Bennett, my East Head Coach, asked me about not having a punter. “What do you mean? What about Swedenburg, the Jackson punter?”
“He did not show-up,” said Coach Bennett, “but I know where I can get a great one.”
“OK, get him as soon as possible.” What was great was that punter Blake Erickson from Pensacola Tate, Florida was at practice on Tuesday morning and I was still able to get Erickson into the game program, but Swedenburg was also in the game program.
Erickson was great in the 2008 All-American Bowl Game Classic, and on Monday after the game on Saturday, I got a call from one of the South Carolina State Coaches, looking for a punter. “Call Blake Erickson of Pensacola Tate.”
The South Carolina State Coach called Erickson, signed him, and then Erickson was voted to the 2010 All-American Team as a punter off of the South Carolina State National Championship Team.
ALL-AMERICAN BOWL GAME HIGH DRAFT CHOICES
In the previous eight games, The All-American Bowl Game Classic has helped 478 players to get a scholarship. These players were fabulous football players who, for various reasons, had been “Flying under the Recruiting Radar” with the College Coaches. The All-American Bowl Game Classic also has had some very distinguished Alumnus, including two #1 Draft Choices; two #2 Draft Choices; and three #3 Draft Choices. Kareem Jackson, Lawrence Wilson, and Vick Ballard did not have a single scholarship offer when they reported for their first AABG practice.
SUPER SIXTEEN AABG NFL DRAFT CHOICES
1. OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma – Washington Redskins 2010 #1 – #4 Overall
2. CB Kareem Jackson, Alabama – Houston Texans 2010 #1 – #20 Overall
3. QB Andy Dalton, TCU – Cincinnati Bengals 2011 #2 – #35 Overall
4. DT Lamarr Houston, Texas – Oakland Raiders 2010 #2 – #44 Overall
5. WR Damian Williams, USC – Tennessee Titans 2010 #3 – #53 Overall
6. DT Terrell McClain, S Florida – Carolina Panthers 2011 #3 – #65 Overall
7. NG Drake Nevis, LSU – Indianapolis Colts 2011 #3 – #87 Overall
8. DT Jay Howard, Florida – Seattle Seahawks 2012 #4 – #170 Overall
9. OG Joe Looney, Wake Forest – Cincy Bengals 2012 #4 – #117 Overall
10.TE Lee Smith, Marshall – New England Patriots 2011 #5 – #159 Overall
11. RB Vick Ballard, Miss State – Indianapolis Colts 2012 #5 – #170 Overall
12. LB Lawrence Wilson, U-Conn – Carolina Panthers 2011 #6 – #166 Overall
13. FS Charles Mitchell, Miss State – Atlanta Falcons 2012 #6 – 192 Overall
14. RB Charles Scott, LSU – Philadelphia Eagles 2010 #6 – 200 Overall
15. OT Marcel Jones, Nebraska – New Orleans Saints 2012 #7 – #234 Overall
16. OT Lee Ziemba, Auburn – Carolina Panthers 2011 #7 – #244 Overall
“We played our Seventh Annual All-American Bowl Game Classic at Doug Williams Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on December 31, 2010 and then we played our Eighth Annual All-American Bowl Game Classicon January 7, 2012 at A.W. Mumford Football Stadium on the Southern University Campus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.” We also have NEVER had a Sponsor.
OK. On Saturday night, I was watching the end of the Baylor and Texas game on ABC, and as it ended, I clicked my clicker back to FOX, but the Kansas State and West Virginia game had just ended and the TV Series, called Touch was just getting ready to start and here is what I saw.
“We are all interconnected. Our lives are invisibly tied to those whose destinies touch ours.”
This TV Series, blends science, spirituality and emotion, and follows seemingly unrelated people from around the world, all of whose lives impact each other in ways that are seen and unseen, known and unknown.
And of course, this was the icing on the cake for me to write this Story.
“Lord, We give You all the Glory!”