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Taaffe: Lynch may have stronger arm than Bortles

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  • Taaffe: Lynch may have stronger arm than Bortles

    Taaffe: Lynch may have stronger arm than Bortles

    Charlie Taaffe used to be the offensive coordinator at Central Florida, where he coached current Jacksonville Jaguar Blake Bortles. Taaffe is now the man who happens to be training future first-round pick Paxton Lynch in anticipation for the 2016 NFL Draft.

    On Wednesday morning, Taaffe was nice enough to join us on 92.9 FM ESPN. Here were the three most interesting parts of our conversation.

    1.) Once upon a time, Taaffe tried (and failed) to flip Lynch from his commitment to Memphis. Central Florida their quarterback commitment Jonathan Wallace to Auburn on Signing Day and Taaffe, then the Knights’ offensive coordinator, made a last-ditch phone call to Lynch.

    Lynch, a Florida native, was coming off his visit to Memphis and had just committed.

    “He said, ‘Coach, I appreciate the call, but I committed and I’m gonna stick to my commitment,’” Taaffe said.

    Funny how things so often circle back to one another in sports. Taaffe retired after the 2014 season and now helps run Quarterback Country - Orlando, where he’s training the likely first-round draft pick he passed on nearly four years ago.

    “When I interviewed for this gig (to train Lynch pre-draft), I said, ‘Paxton, I really appreciate you giving me a second chance to recruit you,” he said. “If Paxton would’ve come to UCF, I might still be coaching.”

    2.) Much has been made about Paxton Lynch’s release and his elongated delivery on his throws, but Taaffe said the biggest thing he’ll need to work on in his preparation for the next level is working under center and checking plays at the line of scrimmage. Under Justin Fuente, Lynch worked almost exclusively out of the shotgun and when he did call an audible, he did so with instruction from the sidelines.

    “He needs to have a keen understanding of defenses and defensive structures,” Taaffe said. “At Memphis, and like many of these spread offenses, the quarterback starts his cadence, stops in the middle of it, and then looks over to the sideline and the coach signals in the play to run. They don’t do that on Sundays.”

    3.) Naturally, Taaffe compared Lynch to Bortles. They were both lightly recruited, they both played in a less-prominent conference, and they’re both big-bodied quarterbacks. Though Taaffe said Bortles had a bit of an advantage going into the draft because he played under center some at UCF, he acknowledged Lynch might actually have a better arm.

    “Paxton may have a little more velocity on the ball than Blake,” Taaffe said. “I thought Blake had a strong arm, but Paxton, from what I’ve seen in two sessions, it’s just exceptional.”

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  • MauiRam
    New Rams OT working to get Battle-ready
    by MauiRam
    By Jim Thomas

    Three weeks ago, Rams offensive tackle Isaiah Battle held newborn daughter Brooklynn in his arms for the first time. It might be a stretch to say it was a life-changing experience for the rookie from Clemson, but it sure put things in perspective.

    “It was great,” Battle said. “I felt weak, like wow, this is my creation.” (Of course, Battle’s girlfriend played a role as well.) “You’re really speechless,” he added. “Because it’s crazy how it happens.”

    So now, as Battle embarks on an NFL career, he says, “It’s different. I have a daughter. I have a family to take care of. So all that bull ... and all that, it’s out the window. I’m focused. I know what I’m here for. And I know what my goals are.”

    That “bull” includes Battle getting suspended in 2013 after punching a North Carolina State player. It includes a police citation for marijuana possession after being pulled over for speeding in June.

    Battle had considered turning pro in January following the end of the 2014 college season.

    “But I had to dig down deep and think,’’ he said. “I need to learn more. I need to develop my craft and make me a better player.”

    But the latest off-field issue, coupled with the impending birth of his daughter, caused Battle to change his mind over the summer and go into the supplemental draft.

    “Coach (Dabo) Swinney, he wanted me to put my best foot forward and he believed it was time for me to enter,” Battle said, referring to Clemson’s head coach. “But everything was positive. I loved Clemson. They made me the person I am now.”

    Scouts from more than two dozen NFL teams attended Battle’s hastily arranged pro day in early July, and a couple of days later he became the Rams’ first supplemental draft pick since the franchise moved to St. Louis in 1995. The team forfeited a fifth-round draft pick in 2016 to make the selection.

    “The guy is gifted, physically gifted,” Rams general manager Les Snead said. “He was well on our radar (for the 2016 draft). A little bit last year (too) because there was maybe a chance he might come out last year. Chose not to.

    “He was gonna be a guy that you had to look and evaluate to see if he was an early (round) prospect. When all that happened and he was available for the supplemental — I don’t want to call it a no-brainer — but it was like, ‘OK, this is a guy that we would’ve been talking about a lot next year depending on how he played.’ So it’s a chance to get him early, let’s do it.”

    The Rams feel Battle, listed at 6 feet 7 and 290 pounds, has starter’s potential. And if they end up getting a starter for a fifth-round pick, well, that’s a bargain. Before entering the supplemental draft, Battle was seen as a potential late first- or second-round prospect for 2016.

    “Honestly, I heard feedback like that,” he said.
    -08-10-2015, 09:14 AM
  • MauiRam
    New Rams QB Gilbert eager to prove his worth on the gridiron ..
    by MauiRam
    By Nate Latsch
    FOX Sports Midwest

    Garrett Gilbert is ready to start asking questions.

    Lots and lots of questions.

    The quarterback the Rams selected in the sixth round Saturday got to meet the rest of the St. Louis QBs -- Sam Bradford, Shaun Hill and Austin Davis -- on Tuesday and almost immediately began to pick their brains.

    "I got to start asking some questions to all three quarterbacks," Gilbert said when he was introduced to the media at Rams Park. I'm really excited to jump in and start learning and working alongside those guys."

    "Just a couple things, basically just watching them do some routes individually," Gilbert said. "Try to stick my head in the huddle every now and then to hear a play call or something like that, so just asking them what they're seeing, what they're looking at in individual routes to be able to start picking up some things."

    Cree Morris isn't surprised.

    Morris, who played quarterback at San Diego State when Marshall Faulk was starring for the Aztecs, was in training camp with the Los Angeles Rams in 1994 and then the St. Louis Rams the following year. He has worked as a quarterback coach in San Diego since and worked with Gilbert throughout January and February to prepare for his pro day.

    "The thing about Garrett that is so impressive is his knowledge of the game, and not just the X's and O's, but he understands how to be a leader," Morris said. "He understands how to compete at the highest level. He's extremely level-headed and calm -- everything you would want in a starting quarterback. His knowledge of the game is very impressive -- from down and distances to clock management to X's and O's, (he) was phenomenal. He's one of the smartest quarterbacks I've ever got the chance to work with."

    Gilbert was kind of a surprise pick for the Rams, who took the SMU quarterback with their second selection in the sixth round (No. 214 overall).

    St. Louis had a scout at Gilbert's pro day and then did a private workout with him with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti.

    "They were impressed with him," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "He threw the ball well. He's poised in the pocket. He's big, tall, strong. He's got some mobility and has got good arm strength. We felt like he's got a chance to come in and compete."

    Gilbert, who will battle Davis in training camp for the No. 3 spot on the St. Louis depth chart, was the 13th and final quarterback selected over the seven rounds of the draft.

    After picking Mizzou cornerback E.J. Gaines earlier in the sixth round, at No. 188, the Rams watched Ball State's Keith Wenning (No. 194 to Baltimore) and Clemson's Tajh Boyd (No. 213 to New York Jets) -- both quarterbacks...
    -05-16-2014, 11:57 AM
  • peramoure
    Curious what you think - USC commits 13 year old QB
    by peramoure
    Sills, 13, commits to USC
    Comment Email Print Share
    By Ramona Shelburne

    Lane Kiffin really is getting a jump on recruiting.

    No sooner had the Trojans new coach put the finishing touches on the Class of 2010 recruits, that he turned his attention to the Class of 2014.

    That's right, 2014.

    Thursday evening Kiffin received a verbal commitment from 13-year old wunderkind quarterback David Sills of Bear County, Del..

    Too young?

    Not according to his personal coach Steve Clarkson, who has mentored some of the game's best quarterbacks including current USC starter Matt Barkley.

    "His skill set is off the chart," Clarkson said. "I've never seen anyone at his age do what he's been able to do."

    The commitment, which was first reported by ESPN's Shelley Smith, has happened in college basketball previously, but is unprecedented for college football where it's harder to project how a player as young as Sills will develop physically. Clarkson says that won't be a problem.

    "He's already six feet as a 13-year old," Clarkson said. "And he's breaking down NFL footage."

    Clarkson said the scholarship offer emerged after he called Kiffin to discuss a quarterback recruit for next year's class.

    Clarkson said that Kiffin asked him his opinion of the recruit and Clarkson said, "You might call me crazy, but you've known me a long time, right? And when I said if there was going to be a LeBron James of football it'd be Jimmy Clausen that turned out to be a pretty good prediction.

    "And when I said Matt Barkley had the potential to be as good as Jimmy, he ended up winning Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior and starting at USC as a freshman, right?

    "Well, I've got a kid now who is better than all of them and he's in Delaware. You gotta take a look at him."

    Clarkson then directed Kiffin to a video of Sills that has slowly making the rounds on YouTube.

    Kiffin watched it and called him back immediately.

    "He was like, 'This kid is incredible. How old is he again?'

    "I was like, 'That's the problem, he's 13.' "

    A couple of hours later, the Sills family called Kiffin and they spoke for the first time. USC had always been Sills' dream school, according to his father, David Sills IV.

    "I'm as shocked as anybody," Sillis' father said. "I was just talking with friends yesterday about what it'll be like four years from now when David goes through the recruiting process. I never expected this to happen so soon.

    "But David's always wanted to go to USC. I mean, is there a better place to play football in the country? How can you pass up the best offer you're ever going to get?"
    -02-04-2010, 09:22 PM
  • MauiRam
    All signs point to Rams drafting QB ..
    by MauiRam

    With less than three weeks remaining before the draft, the Rams are strongly considering taking a quarterback, and in doing so are casting a wide net at the position.
    Tom Savage of the University of Pittsburgh has made a “top 30 visit” to Rams Park. The team has spent a lot of time with Connor Shaw of South Carolina, you know, the guy who prevented Missouri from having a perfect regular season.

    On Wednesday, the Rams dispatched quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti and director of player personnel Taylor Morton to Athens, Ga., where Aaron Murray took part in Georgia’s pro day.

    Earlier in the pre-draft period, the Rams dispatched a scout to SMU’s pro day to watch Garrett Gilbert. There have also been reports that they either met with or worked out Derek Carr of Fresno State.

    And don’t forget Clemson QB Tajh Boyd. The Rams got a look at him Friday when they held a private workout for wide receiver Sammy Watkins. (Boyd did the throwing.)

    And that’s just a sampling. San Jose State’s David Fales, Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, and Louisiana State’s Zach Mettenberger could all be in play for the Rams as well.

    “I think they all have merit,” said Rick Venturi, the former Rams assistant coach who is now an NFL radio analyst in Indianapolis.

    In a draft where it has been difficult to pin down the value of top quarterback prospects Brian Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel, some of the mid-round QBs may end up outperforming the “big three” when all is said and done.

    New Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien, who’s grappling with the franchise-shaping decision of whether to take a QB at No. 1 overall, doesn’t see much separation between the top three and everyone else.

    “Somebody else might have a different opinion,” O’Brien said. “Just my opinion is that I see strengths and weaknesses with every one of these guys. I don’t see where there are one or two guys, or three guys, that are just light-years ahead of the rest of them.”

    The consistent signal from Rams Park is that the team wants to take a quarterback in the mid-rounds, someone who isn’t a project and could compete for a starting job in a year or two.

    “I don’t think there’s any question the Rams are taking a quarterback,” said Gil Brandt, the longtime NFL draft guru. “(General manager) Les Snead has been around looking at those guys.”

    If that’s indeed the case, that would leave the Rams with Sam Bradford as the starter, veteran Shaun Hill as the backup, plus a rookie-in-training in 2014. Austin Davis also is on the Rams’ offseason roster.

    Bradford has two years left on his contract; Hill signed a one-year deal in free agency, coming to St. Louis from Detroit after Kellen Clemens left for San Diego.

    As O’Brien mentioned, there are...
    -04-19-2014, 11:42 PM
  • MauiRam
    Good story ... and apparently the Rams are interested ...
    by MauiRam Page 2

    Friday, April 27, 2007
    Updated: May 1, 6:16 PM ET
    Glasper learns the hard lessons of football

    By Alan Grant
    Special to Page 2

    There's a difference between pain and injury. Pain is fleeting. Even in various degrees of discomfort, it's possible to function at a very high level of competency. Any athlete knows this. But injury is lasting. Injury has the power to rob us of our dreams. Injury makes us mortal.

    Boston College safety Ryan Glasper, who went undrafted this weekend, knows pain. It's the kind of pain that accompanies many citizens of New Britain, Conn., or "Hard-Hittin' New Britain," as it's called. The city of 70,000, once a thriving factory town, is now known for its housing projects. As a kid, Glasper was innately rambunctious, engaging in activities like jumping off the second floor of a house onto a mattress. His mother, Brenda, suggested football was a great way to deal with his reckless sensibility. This proved a great solution. He was a natural at running into things.

    The family had what he calls financial difficulties.

    "I didn't really know it at the time," he says. "I was a happy kid. But looking back on it in retrospect, I can see we had it hard."

    When it became evident Brenda could no longer provide a home, Glasper's Pop Warner football coach contacted Jude Kelly, the football coach at Southington (Conn.) High School. He and Glasper's mother determined that the best thing for the young man was a change of address and a school district that offered him better opportunity for growth.

    Glasper moved into the Kelly residence and once classes began, so did the pain. There were only about five black kids in the school. His wardrobe was typical inner-city: Roca Wear, worn in a baggy style.

    After playing through a hip injury as a senior, Glasper went undrafted.

    "I wasn't wearing Abercrombie and Fitch," Glasper says. "I stood out, so they called me a thug."

    In the first week, one white student called Glasper the n-word.

    This led to a violent retort, the first of many. By the time that first semester ended, Glasper had been labeled a problem.

    "Let's just say I was written up a few times," Glasper says.

    He was something of a problem at home, too. Kelly was Catholic and attending mass was a regular habit for members of the Kelly household. But Glasper wanted no part of it, so he resisted the way any adolescent resists.

    "I used to call him Pope Kelly because he went to church so much," Glasper says. "If communion started at 11:40, I would argue with him until 11:35."

    But it takes just one...
    -05-02-2007, 11:17 AM