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  • Porter Trades In Pom-Poms For Rams' Special Teams

    Porter trades in pom-poms for Rams’ special teams

    By Les Carpenter
    Yahoo! Sports

    ST. LOUIS – Quinn Porter(notes) plays special teams for the St. Louis Rams. He is listed on the roster as a running back, but his primary task is to return kickoffs and play the “gunner” (first man down the field) when the Rams punt. He is a gregarious man with an infectious laugh who gets so excited telling stories that sometimes his mind goes faster than his words. He then has to stop and start over.

    Some of this makes him no different than those who dress around him in the Rams’ locker room. What sets Porter apart, though, is that his teammates were recruited out of high school to play college football and were scouted by the NFL throughout their college careers. In most cases, the NFL is not a surprise.



    Porter, however, was recruited by no one. And when he did pay his way to tiny Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala., he wasn’t academically eligible to play on the football team. So he did something that would be unthinkable to his NFL teammates:

    He became a cheerleader.

    “I prefer stuntman,” he says. Because after all, “cheerleader” leaves the impression he was screaming chants into a megaphone and Porter didn’t do that. Instead he clapped and threw the female cheerleaders into the air and caught them and stood next to the field on which he someday hoped to play.

    “Don’t forget you’re going places,” his mother, Kim Oliver, back in California, used to say. And so he believed her even as he wore the tight shirt, clapped and held other cheerleaders over his head.

    “He’s always been very determined,” Kim says.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Football was Quinn’s dream since he was 7 years old and his stepfather, David Oliver, put him in pads and sent him out for his youth football games. But he grew only to be 5-foot-8, 165 pounds as a teenager and the coach at Quartz Hill High School outside Lancaster, Calif., didn’t like to play underclassmen, according to Oliver, so Porter played only his senior year. This didn’t dissuade him from his passion.

    He bombarded USC with the few game tapes he had, sending them as high up as athletic director Mike Garrett. Oliver, realizing a more modest goal for the child, sent tapes to smaller schools around the country with little response. It wasn’t until they attended an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) convention at their church that the name Stillman came up.

    It turned out there was a teacher at a local community college who knew the president of Stillman, and the subject of Porter’s possible enrollment was broached. He had never heard of Division II Stillman, but the football coaches seemed interested in having Porter walk on. Since he says the only other response to his inquiries was South Carolina State, he picked Stillman because the initials are “S.C.,” which is what USC is referred to in L.A.

    He flew to Alabama before the fall semester of 2004 and wondered what exactly he had done. He was alone and couldn’t play football and seemed lost until he stumbled across a pair of girls who kept smiling at him.

    “Oh you’re so cute,” he remembers them saying.

    “You guys are pretty cute yourselves,” he replied.

    They told him they were cheerleaders and they desperately needed some male cheerleaders. They then asked him to meet their advisor. Since they told him how important he would be, he agreed. And when the advisor, Patricia Wilson, put on the pressure he reluctantly said he would consider the offer.

    He called Oliver and his birth father and asked them what they thought. At first Oliver, who had taken loans to pay Porter’s tuition, didn’t know what to say until Porter added that it came with a $1,000 scholarship.

    “Go for it!” Oliver shouted into the phone.

    Initially, Porter was reluctant to do any of the things Wilson asked of him, sometimes missing practices, but vanity got the better of him. “He wanted to show us how strong he was,” she says. “He was quite the ladies man. And they loved him. I think he really enjoyed being around the pretty girls.”

    Soon he jumped into his new role with zeal. Cheerleading allowed him to be close to the team, even able to travel to Stillman’s road games. But he also had his limitations. In addition to refusing to call out cheers, he told them to call him a “stuntman.”

    “That’s when we started referring to all of our male cheerleaders as ‘stuntmen,’ ” Wilson says with a laugh.

    One time Stillman played a game in San Diego, and Kim Oliver, in town for a conference, drove over to watch her son mostly stand with his hands behind his back and occasionally throw one of the girls in the air and catch her. His role was simple.

    “I only called my pops and my mom,” Porter says, “Not my girlfriend, not my brother. I kept it quiet from everyone on the West Coast.”

    In some ways David and Kim think their son was embarrassed. He was popular in high school and he boasted about going off to college to play football. Instead, he was a cheerleader. It wasn’t exactly the life he had told everyone he was going to live. But, his parents say, he is not the kind to get depressed or wracked with despair. He was, after all, getting attention at school as a cheerleader. He might not have been a football player but he was somebody.

    “Quinn is a kid who is just comfortable in his own skin,” Kim says.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    The next season he went out for football.

    And the teasing started.

    “The players all said, ‘Isn’t that the cat who was the cheerleader?’ ” Quinn says.

    They gave him a nickname: Pom-Pom.

    He also didn’t get to play. Even though he had always been a running back, Stillman coach Greg Thompson made him a wide receiver. He was the sixth-string receiver early in his redshirt freshman year when several tailbacks went down with injury. Porter went to Thompson and told him he had been a running back and a tryout was quickly arranged by the goal line. Porter was told he had three tries to get in the end zone. He scored on all three as the defensive coordinator shouted at his players: “Why are you letting Pom-Pom do this to you?”

    After that he was a running back. He also returned kicks and punts, and for a time he punted. He played for three years until Thompson left and, figuring a new coach wouldn’t want him, he dropped out of school and was even drafted by the Georgia Stallions of the United National Gridiron League, a developmental league that ran out of money before even starting. By then Stillman’s new coach, L.C. Cole, had called assuring him that he was wanted and demanding that he return to school for his senior season.

    And when he had 1,247 rushing yards his senior year, he kept telling his mother he was going to the NFL. For awhile she amused him by responding “OK.” But she also remembered his obsession with USC and how the Trojans never returned his calls and how he had to go to Stillman and become a cheerleader. Yet he seemed so certain, so determined, that after awhile Kim Oliver believed, too.

    “If he believes, I’ll doggone believe it, too,” she says.

    Even if it was too hard to imagine.

    Still, Porter found his way to an HBCU all-star game in the winter of 2010, which is where he first caught the attention of several NFL scouts. His agent, Travis Martz, sent him to Atlanta to work with a trainer, David Irons(notes), who had worked with several top backs from the South, including Brandon Jacobs(notes), Anthony Allen(notes) and DuJuan Harris(notes). All of them, Irons says, worked hard, but none came in as determined as Porter. He smelled a life in professional football, and he was going to find a way to make it real.

    One week Porter was struggling with a short-shuttle drill, one he wanted to run in under 4.0 seconds, but it wasn’t working. He couldn’t get the right technique. Irons remembers him pushing over and over and over, trying to find a way to shave fractions of a second off his time until finally one time the stopwatch read “3.98.” He leaped in the air and ran around the gym shouting, “I did it! I did it!”

    Green Bay signed him as an undrafted free agent immediately after the 2010 draft, and he seemed to have found a place with the Packers. He got several carries in training camp, and two newspapers had heard of his cheerleading past and wrote stories about him. The players all called him “Pom-Pom.” Then he tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. The Packers wanted to put him on injured reserve. Porter, certain that he could play at some point during the season, asked for his release and began a voyage that took him to the Redskins, the Browns and eventually five weeks ago, the Rams, who put him on their roster and told him they needed him on their special teams.

    So far he has returned seven kickoffs, averaging 20.4 yards, and has made one special teams tackle. These are not overwhelming statistics. But given where he has been, the fact he was unwanted by every college just six years earlier and had to become a cheerleader just to get close to a small-school football team, the numbers might as well shine in blazing red lights from the top of the Gateway Arch.

    “This is an example of his character,” Irons says. “If you look at it, the kid came to Stillman College to play football, and instead of playing football he did something where he could stay around the team, so he chose cheerleading. How many others would have done that? A lot of guys would have just quit. His story is an inspiration to many kids across the country who think, ‘I have to go to Michigan or Penn State.’ No, if you do what you are supposed to do in college, the NFL will find you.”

    Sitting on a stool in the Rams locker room, Porter laughs.

    “I’ve got to thank the Lord for me being here,” he says. Otherwise, there was no way anyone could have expected he would be.

    A Rams official arrives saying it is time for a meeting. Porter rises. He hopes he has found a home here, and undoubtedly the players will hear about Stillman and “pom-poms” and there will be jokes. His agent, Martz, for awhile owned the domain name: “Ipreferstuntman.com” because he figured sooner or later his client was going to make it big.

    Given the path he’s already taken, that might be very soon.

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  • MauiRam
    Good story ... and apparently the Rams are interested ...
    by MauiRam
    ESPN.com: 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
  • RamsFanSam
    A Message to those who think McCollum's too old:
    by RamsFanSam
    Linebacker, 59, to Play College Ball


    Email this Story

    Aug 22, 4:40 PM (ET)

    By JAIME ARON




    ALPINE, Texas (AP) - Mike Flynt was drinking beer and swapping stories with some old football buddies a few months ago when he brought up the biggest regret of his life: Getting kicked off the college team before his senior year.

    So, one of his pals said, why not do something about it?

    Most 59-year-olds would have laughed. Flynt's only concern was if he was eligible.

    Finding out he was, Flynt returned to Sul Ross State this month, 37 years after he left and six years before he goes on Medicare. His comeback peaked Wednesday with the coach saying he's made the Division III team's roster. He could be in action as soon as Sept. 1.


    Flynt is giving new meaning to being a college senior. After all, he's a grandfather and a card-carrying member of AARP. He's eight years older than his coach and has two kids older than any of his teammates.

    "I think it was Carl Yastrzemski who used to say, 'How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?' I'd be in my late 20s or early 30s, because that's how I feel," said Flynt, who has made a living out of physical fitness. "That's been my approach to this whole thing. I feel that good. I'm just going to find out if I can perform and make a contribution to the team."

    A longtime strength and conditioning coach at Nebraska, Oregon and Texas A&M, he's spent the last several years selling the Powerbase training system he invented. Clients include school systems and the military. His colorful life story includes being the son of a Battle of the Bulge survivor and having dabbled in gold mines and oil wells - successfully.

    Flynt's life was supposed to be slowing down this fall. With his youngest child starting at the University of Tennessee, he and Eileen, his wife of 35 years, are planning to take advantage of being empty-nesters for the first time.

    Instead, they've moved to this remote patch of West Texas so Flynt can mend an old wound and, he hopes, inspire others.

    He became emotional discussing his goal of "helping a bunch of young men to make up for those guys that I let down." Then he laughed about the reality that fellow Baby Boomers are getting the most out of his comeback.

    "People are kind of in awe. They keep comparing me to themselves and where they are physically," he said. "If I can help anyone out by what I'm doing, then it's all worth it."

    Flynt's position is still being determined, but he used to play linebacker. Wherever he lines up, he'll likely become the oldest player in college football history. Neither the NCAA or NAIA keeps such a statistic, but research hasn't turned up anyone older than...
    -08-22-2007, 04:50 PM
  • Goldenfleece
    It's All Adding Up for Sidbury
    by Goldenfleece
    It's All Adding Up for Sidbury
    University of Richmond Defensive End's NFL Draft Stock Is Rising

    RICHMOND -- It wasn't long before the new math tutor at John Marshall High School started attracting attention. And not because he was bigger than the teachers or that he carried around a gallon of water or that on occasion, when things got slow, he dropped to his stomach and began doing push-ups.
    This Story

    Neither did Lawrence Sidbury Jr. let anyone know he was a football player at the University of Richmond and that it was likely he would play in the NFL. It would take some time for those facts to emerge. He never was much of one for talking about himself.

    Instead, math teacher Priscilla Wright remembered something else entirely.

    "He was really smart," she said. "Really, really smart."

    Not a lot was expected of the defensive end from Cheltenham, who was hired two years ago to assist teachers in some of the more challenging classes and to provide individual support to students needing to pass the state's annual Standards of Learning exam. He was a college student, after all, going into some of the city's toughest classrooms. But something amazing happened: It turned out the giant man who did push-ups had a gift for making students listen. His explanations made sense. Their grades improved.

    "As a teacher you try to find a way to reach all the kids," Wright said. "He comes in and says, 'You need to do this, this and this,' and they are like, 'Oh, okay,' and they get it. He just has a great rapport with the kids."
    ad_icon

    Ask Sidbury about his work with the school, and he smiles and mumbles something about how he never wants to be a teacher. He sits in a chain steakhouse on the west side of town, scouring a menu, mentally calculating the calories in the pile of bread put before him, making sure it will not violate the strict diet he has set for himself for football.

    Sidbury is one of the biggest surprises in this weekend's NFL draft. Three months ago he might have been a sixth-round pick. Then came the Senior Bowl and a week of practice in which he dazzled NFL coaches and found himself predicted to go in the second round.

    And yet, he does not speak with wonder. He has been disappointed before, as a senior at Oxon Hill, when few division I-A colleges showed interest in him, leaving him to Richmond in division I-AA.

    "You can say I have had a chip on my shoulder," he said, scanning the menu.

    "He's got a huge chip on his shoulder," Richmond Coach Mike London said.

    But this is the most emotion Sidbury will show. Instead he talks pleasantly, but flatly, about the NFL and the fact he has become a highly sought-after prospect seemingly overnight. This was the lesson of his father Lawrence Sr., a religious...
    -04-22-2009, 05:55 PM
  • MauiRam
    Hay's Journey Just Beginning ..
    by MauiRam
    By Nick Wagoner

    At this weekend’s rookie minicamp, offensive lineman Michael Hay will be one of 39 bright-eyed youngsters hoping to make a strong first impression on the Rams’ coaching staff. The 38 others might want to be on the football field as much as Hay but none will need it more.

    Where the road diverges, Hay doesn’t see football as just a sport or an opportunity to play a game he loves. For him, it’s so much more.

    “This game saved my life,” Hay says with an air of absolute certainty.

    Like his rookie classmates, Hay loves football. The field represents a bit of a sanctuary, 100 yards of green solitude where the trials and tribulations of a bumpy past can be forgotten.

    Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Syracuse last week after starting every game at tackle for the Orange the past two years, Hay comes to the Rams with big dreams and every possible motivation to get his foot in the NFL door.

    It was only about five years ago that those dreams were almost dashed in an instant, gone with the swipe of a knife in a fistfight that spun wildly out of control. Hay had been stabbed in his chest, just below his left arm, cut through the rib cage and diaphragm, leaving a collapsed lung in its wake.

    As Hay was rushed to the hospital and headed to surgery, his thoughts turned quickly to the game he loves. With mother Maria and father Arthur in tow, Hay looked up at the attending surgeon and asked what the damage would be in terms of his football hopes.

    The answer wasn’t what he’d wanted to hear.

    “I had camp two weeks later and I told the surgeon that I have to be ready, I’ve got to get to camp,” Hay said. “He gave me a look, kind of smirked at me like ‘What is this kid thinking about right now?’ He told me ‘Honestly, I don’t know if you will ever play the game again.’ And I broke down in tears, looked at my mom and dad and said ‘I’m going to show him, I’m going to get back out there.’”

    Hay grew up in a supportive family in College Point, New York, an industrial part of Queens, with two working parents doing all they can to provide for the family. There, he learned the importance of hard work from his father who was a construction worker in the city.

    Bigger than most kids his age, Hay became a force on a very talented Holy Cross High football team in Flushing. At 6’5, 283 pounds, Hay was one of the top linemen on one of the best teams in the city. He drew plenty of interest to play at the college level but none from any major Division I schools as he’d hoped.

    Instead, Hay decided to attend Division II C.W. Post in Long Island. During the summer of 2007, between the end of his high school career and the start of his college career, what he calls an ongoing war of “he said, she said” began to boil over.

    “It was to a point where we confronted each other in person...
    -05-11-2012, 10:21 PM
  • evil disco man
    Chuck Cecil: Too Vicious for the NFL? [SI, 1993]
    by evil disco man
    Thought this was a good offseason read about our secondary coach, especially in context of recent rule changes.

    Headlong and Headstrong

    Chuck Cecil's world is exploding. The Phoenix Cardinal free safety has closed on his target like an electron returning to a nucleus, and now he uncoils into Washington Redskin tight end Ron Middleton with a crash that is both terrifying and thrilling to behold. Middleton crumples around Cecil like a crash-test dummy around a telephone pole. His feet buckle and his helmet flies. The headgear will come to rest five yards from the site of impact, and when Middleton revives sufficiently to know where he is—RFK Stadium on Sept. 12—he will notice that all four snaps on his helmet chin strap are still in place; Cecil's blow knocked the helmet off the way carbonation blows a champagne cork out of a bottle.

    But just now Middleton is on another planet. Flat on his back, knees up, eyes closed, he looks as though he has been nailed to the ground. Cecil stands over him, twitching with ecstasy. Later, sports-writers will say Cecil appeared to be imitating a boxing referee, counting Middleton out. Cecil doesn't think that's what he was doing, though he admits he doesn't remember much of what happened in the euphoric state he had entered. He does recall kicking Middleton's helmet when he saw it lying in front of him.

    For the six-foot, 185-pound Heat Seeking Missile, as Cecil was dubbed during his All-America career at the University of Arizona, the blow approached perfection. For the NFL brass reviewing the collision on slow-motion replay later that week, the hit, and another on the same series, approached insanity. On Sept. 20, Bill Polian, the NFL's vice-president for football development, announced that Cecil was being fined $30,000, one of the largest nonsuspension fines ever imposed on a player, for "two acts of flagrant unnecessary roughness involving the use of his helmet." He is appealing the fine, but he has reportedly been warned that another such hit will result in suspension.

    Polian's statement read, "Cecil speared running back Ricky Ervins and tight end Ron Middleton of the Redskins. On each play, Cecil used the top of his helmet to strike intended receivers in the upper body." No matter that the two plays occurred during a crucial fourth-quarter Washington drive in a game that Phoenix would win 17-10, for its first victory at RFK in 15 years. No matter that no penalty flags were thrown on either play. No matter that Ervins bounced up after his hit or that Middleton outweighs Cecil by 75 pounds. The league had spoken: Spearing is illegal: Cecil was a menace to others and to himself. Striking with the crown of the helmet is prohibited, noted Polian, because of the danger it poses to the players involved, "including the one doing the hitting." Told that Cecil didn't think he had used the crown of his helmet for impact,...
    -05-25-2013, 06:22 AM
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