Several local footballers head to NFL camps
The official start to the 2012 NFL season is still several months away but several local players got the call last weekend to join teams as undrafted free agents or were invited to participate in an upcoming camp.
The only local drafted was former Kelly standout Kheeston Randall. Listed at 6-foot-5, 295 pounds, the senior defensive tackle was taken by the Miami Dolphins as the eighth pick in the seventh round, 215th overall. Randall started every game during his junior and senior seasons at the University of Texas and had 34 tackles last season.Two former Ozen standouts, Ben Wells and London Durham, will head to Washington and Seattle, respectively. Wells began his college career at Texas then transferred to Stephen F. Austin where he played defensive back the last two years. Durham spent his college career at McNeese State.
Tramain Thomas, a safety from East Chambers who played at Arkansas, signed a free agent contract with Miami. The 6-foot, 205-pound safety led the Razorbacks last season with five interceptions.
Safety Darrell Jenkins, who prepped at Newton, will attend a three-day camp this weekend in Washington. He too played at McNeese State.
It’s time for the 138th running of the most exciting two minutes in sports — the Kentucky Derby. Coverage begins at 10 a.m. on NBC Sports, which is the old Versus Network, and main coverage begins at 4 p.m. on NBC and the race will go off at 5:24 p.m. Here are the Top 20 contenders in alphabetical order:
Alpha: Rajiv Maragh will ride the son of Bernardini for the first time for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Breeding is on point as his sire won the Preakness. He’s hit the board in five or six starts but has gotten himself in trouble in several of those races. Best races came in New York.
Bodemeister: Jockey Mike Smith and this son of Empire Maker has the best Beyer Speed Figures heading into the Derby, which likely makes him the favorite for trainer Bob Baffert. Smith may take him off the lead some because he has a front running style horse and there is plenty of early speed in this race. This colt looked amazing in his win in the Arkansas Derby, and he is bred to run all day as his sire won the Belmont.
Creative Cause: You’re not going to find a more consistent horse than this son of Giant’s Causeway. Joel Rosario will get the mount for trainer Mike Harrington, whose colt has never finished worse than third in all eight starts. Beaten only by a length by Hansen and Union Rags in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year at Churchill Downs.
Daddy Long Legs: Mystery colt who has three wins in five starts, one in the $2 million UAE Derby. His only start in the states came last year in the BC Juvenile where he finished 19 lengths behind the winner. Colm O’Donoghue will ride for Aidan O’Brien.
Daddy Nose Best: The son of Scat Daddy began his career as a sprinter, then trainer Steve Asmussen put the colt on the turf for seven races before winning the Sun Derby at Sunland Park. Jockey Julien Leparoux has been aboard in the last eight but chose Union Rages, so Garrett Gomez gets the call. He hasn’t competed against the best of horses, but he should thrive off the fast pace. Could be a good long shot to use for exotics.
Done Talking: This son of Broken Vow rallied from 13 lengths back to win the Illinois Derby, but don’t read too much into that race. He finished 20 lengths behind Hansen in March, so he will need a big improvement here to compete. Sheldon Russell gets the ride for trainer Hamilton Smith.
Dullahan: Veteran rider Kent Desormeaux looked impressive on the son of Even the Score in a nice win in the Blue Grass, but that race came on the Polytrack. Going back three races, he had trouble in the start in the BC Juvenile and rallied to finish fourth, so there is plenty of upside. His 0-3 record at Churchill is worrisome for trainer Dale Romans.
El Padrino: The son of Pulpit was cruising right along for trainer Todd Pletcher but then threw a clunker in the Florida Derby. His best win came on a sloppy track, and the weather looks perfect for Saturday. Never underestimate a Pletcher horse, but this one has regressed over his last three starts. Rafael Bejarano gets the call.
Gemologist: Now this Pletcher horse doesn’t have a loss on his record. The son of Tiznow is a perfect 5-5, and his Beyer Speed Figure has increased in each start. Javier Castellano has been in the saddle in his four starts, but just two races in 2012? He beat rival Alpha by a neck in his last start, so this could be the horse to beat.
Hansen: This gray son of Tapit has never been worse than second in his six starts. He won his first three starts then gave up a lead in the Blue Grass, losing to Dullahan. His front-running style isn’t going to help him in this race. Ramon Dominguez rides for Michael Maker.
I’ll Have Another: This $35,000 purchase has never raced outside the state of California. Trained by the respected Doug O’Neill, Mario Guiterrez rides. I would be shocked if this son of Flower Alley finished first.
Liason: Trained by Bob Baffert, this son of Indian Charlie has not had an easy road in 2012. The colt didn’t finish the Lewis Stakes then finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the San Felipe and San Anita Derby. Martin Garcia is aboard, but that won’t make a difference here.
Optimizer: This son of English Channel just barely had enough graded earnings to sneak in the Top 20. Positives? He’s trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. This colt really has no business running the race. Will have the highest odds on the board, at least 50-1.
Prospective: He finished 13th in the BC Juvenile last year at Churchill, and his wins have come in Tampa Bay and Canada. Another super long shot. Luis Contreras will ride the son of Malibu Moon for Mark Casse.
Rousing Sermon: This son of Lucky Pulpit has two wins — a maiden special weight at Delmar and a $100,000 stakes at Santa Anita. Top Beyer Speed Figure was a 91, and that came at Hollywood Park. Doesn’t stand a chance.
Sabercat: I love this horse for a couple of reasons. For one, I watched him win the $1 million Delta Jackpot last November with friend Gerard Melancon in the saddle. I was disappointed in trainer Steve Asmussen, who didn’t give the mount to Gerard; instead Corey Nakatani has ridden this son of Bluegrass Cat in the last two races. After an ugly eighth