CCSF Rams pull off wild comeback over DVC in opener

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CCSF Rams pull off wild comeback over DVC in opener

SAN FRANCISCO -- The reigning 2011 City College National Champions from San Francisco began their 2012 title defense facing the Diablo Valley College Vikings, and after a wild second half, the Rams were able to extend their unbeaten streak to 13 games with a thrilling 48-41 overtime victory at home Saturday.

The CCSF Rams were 12-0 last year, and their only loss in an 11-1 2010 campaign came in their final game of the season -- the National Championship game.

Their undefeated 2012 season, however, was in jeopardy in their opener. Trailing DVC 41-27 in the second half, and frustrated with poor execution and an excess of penalties, CCSF began their comeback.

In the fourth quarter, San Francisco starting quarterback and Berkeley native Andrew Spivey rolled left, just as he had the play prior. But this time, he stopped, rotated and threw across his body, barely getting the long throw to receiver J.J. Hudson in the front corner of the end zone. Place kicker Matthew Vultaggio's extra point made it 41-34.

The defense, led by linebacker and team captain Tyrone Ward, quickly put a stop to the subsequent Vikings drive. Punting from their own end, DVC made a critical mistake, hiking the ball high over the punter and all the way back to the three-yard line, where Spivey punched it in for the game-tying touchdown.

Spivey finished 29-for-52 for 465 yards, six touchdowns through the air and the one game-tying touchdown on the ground.

"In his debut as a starter, Spivey was very impressive," CCSF quarterbacks coach and Marin County native Jim Collins said, "He threw the ball well and made good decisions. The more pressure-packed the situation, the more he thrived. And he showed tremendous leadership qualities on the field and on the sideline."

DVC got the ball late with a chance to march down the field and take the lead, but the Rams defense came up big.

Ward put a loud hit on Vikings quarterback Quinn Kaehler. And a few plays later on second and fifteen, Kaehler, who finished the game with over 450 yards through the air, rolled out to his right with time. Maybe he was feeling the affects of Ward's hit, because his ball down the right sideline fluttered and hung up in the air for safety Broughan Jantz to pull down for the interception.

The athletic play put his offense on their own 12-yard line with 1:46 left in a 41-41 tie game.

It was time for one of San Francisco's premier prospects -- wide receiver Kyani Harris -- to take over.

"Kyani is a tremendous physical talent with an exceptional understanding of offensive football," Collins said. "Most of his plays required him to make a choice after the ball was snapped, and he made the right decisions and executed them for us each time."

Spivey hooked up with Harris four times for 55 yards during the final regulation drive, and downed the ball at the 11-yard line with seven seconds remaining.

They were seven long seconds.

Placekicker Matthew Vultaggio, who had a field goal blocked before dangerously clanging an extra point off the post and in earlier in the game, had a chance to give the Rams the regulation victory.
The snap is down. The kick is up. ... The Rams are offsides.

The ball sailed through the uprights as the referees marched the line of scrimmage back to the 16-yard line.
The snap is down. The kick is up. ... The Vikings call timeout.

The ball once more sailed harmlessly through the goalposts and the teams lined up again.

This time, the kick would count. And this time, Vultaggio pulled the 34-yard, game-winning field goal attempt wide right as time expired, forcing overtime in the season opener.

Overtime rules give each team a possession starting at the 25-yard line. The Rams didn't waste any downs, converting a 25-yard touchdown from Spivey to Dezmon Epps on their first play and handing an opportunity to seal the win to their defense.

The Vikings looked to have matched the Rams' score on third down when the referee put his arms in the air after an acrobatic catch on the right edge of the end zone, but the far-side referee came streaking across the field to overrule the call, indicating the pass hit the ground for an incompletion.

CCSF batted down the fourth-down pass attempt to make the comeback official and move to 1-0 on the young season.

"The offense executed well down the stretch," Collins said, "But the defense kept us in the game the entire second half."

The Rams are back in action Friday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. in Oakland against Laney College.

Stanford star McCaffrey boosts NFL Draft stock with special teams skills

Stanford star McCaffrey boosts NFL Draft stock with special teams skills

INDIANAPOLIS -- More and more college coaches are putting their starters and even their stars on special teams as they seek to pile up every possible point in an era of pedal-to-the-metal shootouts and never-safe leads.

Fading fast are the days when superstars would catch their breath on the sideline when the kicker or punter trotted onto the field with the scrubs.

NFL teams love it.

Watching how players handle themselves as a blocker, gunner or returner provides a glimpse into a prospect's range, selflessness and versatility. It also delivers a sneak peek into how coachable he'll be, says Phil Savage, the SiriusXM NFL Radio host who spent two decades as an NFL coach, scout and executive and now oversees the Senior Bowl.

"I think because of the landscape of college football where scoring is at a premium, you've got to figure out a way to put points on the board not only on offense but through your special teams and defensively, as well," Savage says. "These coaches want to get these young players on the field as soon as possible, and a way to do that is utilize them on special teams."

These tapes provide a bonus to pro scouts.

"Now you have a vision of what that player might forecast to in the NFL as a young player and, specifically, as a rookie," Savage said.

Offensive and defensive coaches have a better idea of the types of players they're integrating into their schemes, and special teams coaches no longer get blank stares and blank canvases from the rookie class.

"Not only do you like the fact that they come in and have experience doing it, but you love the mentality if you're a coach and a decision maker that this guy isn't a diva, he's got no ego about it, he understands the team and puts team before self," says ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay.

"And he comes in with the mindset of 'What can I do to help the team and how can I contribute?' Those are the guys that seem to make it and last longer in the league because they're just willing to do different things and whatever it takes."

The prime example in this year's draft class is Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey , a "dynamic player than can do it all," according to Broncos GM John Elway.

McCaffrey gained more than 5,000 yards from scrimmage in his college career and added almost 2,000 more as a returner.

"There's just a lot of big plays open in the return game," McCaffrey says. "You see special teams have such an impact on the game today. Any time I can have the ball in my hands, I feel like I can do something dangerous, and that's really why I love the return game."

Other highly touted draft prospects who polished their resumes on special teams include Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, LSU safety Jamal Adams, Washington wide receiver John Ross, and USC cornerback Adroee' Jackson, all of whom are projected as high selections.

McShay says "we're seeing more and more programs put an emphasis on special teams and having their key players contribute in one or more areas on special teams."

He pointed to Ohio State, where Urban Myers coaches special teams himself.

"It's a major emphasis there, and so you'll see some more guys typically lined up and contributing that are starters and stars," McShay says. "It's an honor to be on special teams."

Not a burden.

"It is not uncommon now to see people that are going to be picked in the first round having 100-plus special teams plays," suggests NFL draft consultant and former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt.

He pointed to the University of Florida, where Gators defensive backs cover kickoffs as well as they do receivers.

"Everyone's always trying to get their best guys on the field," Brandt says.

That's a change from years past when coaches feared exposing their star players to the extra hits.

The added value benefits the players, whose multiple talents allow NFL general managers to address many needs.

"We're seeing more emphasis on it in college, and I think NFL teams love to see it because if just means you're getting a bit more for your buck," McShay says.

Top talents who bolstered their value by playing special teams:

CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY , RB, STANFORD: He shined at the combine working out with the running backs and was as impressive running routes. Asked if there was anything he couldn't do, the son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey said then: "I can't sing."

JABRILL PEPPERS , S, MICHIGAN: He worked out with safeties and linebackers at the combine, where teams talked of him playing RB and WR in addition to returning kicks. "The bottom line is I'm a ballplayer and I'm a hell of a ballplayer," Peppers said.

JOHN ROSS , WR, WASHINGTON: He caught 81 passes with 17 TDs last season but actually posted more return yards (2,069) than scrimmage yards (1,924) in his college career.

ADOREE' JACKSON , CB, USC: One of the best special teams coverage players in the NCAA, Jackson also scored eight TDs on punt and kick returns in college. His punt return averages rose from 6.0 yards to 10.5 and 15.8.

JAMAL ADAMS , S, LSU: Another star in coverage, Adams' defensive mentality extends to special teams. "I love being on the field and just playing football," said Adams, whose father, George, was a first-round pick by the Giants in 1985.

ALVIN KAMARA , RB, TENNESSEE: In a deep running back group, Kamara separates himself with his special teams acumen. "A lot of teams have been bringing up special teams," Kamara said.

DESMOND KING , CB, IOWA: He had eight interceptions as a junior and three as a senior. "I had a really good special teams season," King said. "Not being targeted as much, I still went out there and competed the best I could and was still making plays."

CHRIS WORMLEY , DE, MICHIGAN: Wormley touts playing for Jim Harbaugh as one of his attributes. "Coach Harbaugh came in and ran our program like an NFL program, like he had with the 49ers," said Wormley, who blocked three kicks his senior season.

ZAY JONES , WR, EAST CAROLINA: Like McCaffrey, he has good NFL bloodlines (son of Robert Jones, brother of Cayleb Jones). He caught 158 passes as a senior, but spent his first two seasons in college also making his mark as a returner.

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

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Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday after one of the best freshman seasons in Kansas history, one marked by plenty of highlights on the floor and a few distractions off it.

The 6-foot-8 swingman, who is considered a certain lottery pick, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and its 13th straight regular season Big 12 title before losing to Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.

"After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Jackson said in a statement Monday.

"I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas," he said, "and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA."

Jackson was the nation's No. 1 recruit when he signed with the Jayhawks out of Prolific Prep Academy in California. He immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup, teaming with national player of the year Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to form one of the nation's top backcourts.

With natural athleticism and ability to slash to the basket - not to mention defensive chops that are rare among freshmen - Jackson quickly established himself as one of the nation's top draft prospects.

His importance was never more evident than in the Big 12 Tournament, when he was suspended by coach Bill Self following a series of off-the-court issues. The top-seeded Jayhawks stumbled in a quarterfinal loss to TCU, ending their run at the conference tournament before it really began.

He returned for the NCAA Tournament and played well in wins over UC Davis, Michigan State and Purdue, but was hamstrung by foul trouble and managed just 10 points in a season-ending loss to the Ducks.

Jackson's suspension came following an incident outside a Lawrence bar in December, when a member of the Kansas women's basketball team got into an altercation with Jackson's teammate, Lagerald Vick.

Jackson followed the woman to the parking lot and the woman said he kicked her car and caused hundreds of dollars in damage. He pleaded not guilty last week in Douglas County District Court to one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property and a trial is scheduled for May 24.

His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he was planning to file for diversion.

Jackson also was ticketed in February after he struck a parked car and fled the scene, and that drew Self's ire when he didn't tell his coach about the incident until several weeks later.

His decision to declare for the draft came a week after teammate Svi Mykhailiuk announced he would skip his senior season. But unlike Jackson, the 6-8 sharpshooter has not hired an agent and could withdraw his name by May 24 and return to the Jayhawks.