Monday, April 28, 2008

Canes Extend 1st Round Streak, Make Barely a Whimper Rest of Draft

The wait was longer than any Hurricane fan wanted, but the relief when Kenny Phillips was named as the 31st overall pick of the Super Bowl champ New York Giants resonated throughout Hurricane nation. That makes it 14 years in a row that the Hurricanes have had a player chosen in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. Many draft analysts saw this pick coming. The Giants needed safety help, and Phillips was at the top of the board for safeties, so it was a no-brainer for the Patriot-slayers. The pick made Giants fans ecstatic - they were chanting Phillips' name moments before the pick, and let out a thunderous roar when he finally was picked. Phillips is a ball hawk, and a punishing hitter, and teams making evaluations this draft season were wowed by Phillips' football acumen. He will be an impact player from the starting line.

Calais Campbell was the 50th selection in the draft, going to the Arizona Cardinals. Campbell dropped to the middle of the second round because his productivity suffered his junior season (after a stellar sophomore season) and because of poor combine numbers. Many say in Campbell's defense that he was getting double-teamed quite a bit during his junior season.

A Hurricane whose numbers did not suffer in 2007 was MLB Tavares Gooden. He was the team's defensive MVP, making a career-high 119 tackles. Gooden was selected No. 71 overall by the Baltimore Ravens, where he joins fellow Cane alumni and current Ravens defensive stalwarts Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. Gooden possesses impressive strength, and his 4.5 speed is extraterrestrially fast for a linebacker. He could be looked upon as the steal of the 3rd round, I predict. His career was slowed by injuries, and when he finally started to recover, he showed that he can be a force on the defensive side of the ball.

And that was it as far as Canes being drafted. Rounds 4-7 came and went, and no more Hurricanes' names were called. Some, however, have already signed free agent contracts. WR Darnell Jenkins, nicknamed "nuke" because of his nuclear speed, was signed by the Houston Texans. Cornerback Glenn Sharpe, of phantom 2003 Fiesta Bowl pass interference call fame, was picked up by the Atlanta Falcons. DT Teraz McCray was signed by the Buffalo Bills. And OL Andrew Bain joins teammate Phillips in the Big Apple.

IN baseball news, my thesis last week was correct - the Hurricanes are the best team in the land, and they are their own worst enemy. After falling to lowly FIU last week, the Hurricanes swept 16th-ranked Virginia in ACC play at Mark Light Field. The Hurricanes pitching was scintillating - they held the Cavaliers to a .144 average during the series. The Canes are 36-5, and 20-2 in the ACC, with only ten regular season games remaining.

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