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Top 10 Ways to Get Involved as a College Freshman

November 11th, 2011 in Social

The transition from high school to college can be stressful and intimidating. But college freshmen will find that there are plenty of ways to get involved in campus life that will help make friends and make the transition to college easier.

You can search out like-minded people to get involved with and find groups that interest you to join. But you should also not shy away from getting involved with organizations that reflect your personal interests as well. There are some very good ways that college freshmen can get involved in college while learning to interact with a very diverse group of people.

Political Associations

College campuses are places where people feel strongly about their opinions and want to find others that hold the same ideals. To find people like this, you can join campus political groups and get involved in the issues that concern you.

Campus political groups can represent the major political parties, or they can take up other issues such as registering students to vote or speaking on behalf of a specific candidate.

Campus Politics

If you are not interested in national politics, then you should try your hand at campus politics instead. You can run for class president or look to be a representative for your group in the student council.

Fraternities and Sororities

Fraternities and sororities are set up as social networks of people who helped each other get through the college experience. But they are also networks of people that join together to take up causes such as poverty and homelessness.

When you join a fraternity or sorority, you have instant access to some of the most influential social networks on campus. These kinds of introductions can help you later when you are trying to make inroads in your new career.

Intramural Sports

If you have an interest in sports, or you played sports in high school, then you will want to use your sporting abilities to get involved in college life. Just because you did not make the varsity college squad does not mean you have to give up on playing college sports. There are thousands of intramural sports leagues all over the country that have teams on your campus.

Sports Booster

If you cannot play sports or do not feel confident about playing sports in an intramural setting, then you can still get involved in college life by being a sports booster. Make yourself a fixture at your school’s athletic events and join the sports boosters program that will help you to become part of a large network of people who are also enthusiastic about your school’s sports programs.

Religious Groups

When people are adjusting to a new situation, such as the transition from high school to college, they often rely on their faith to get them through. You can follow your faith and get more involved in your college activities by joining a campus religious group.

Groups such as Christians On Campus and the Muslim Student Association have chapters at almost every major college campus in the country. Regardless of your faith, you should be able to find a welcoming organization that will help you adapt to and thrive in your college setting.

School Newspaper

Every year the school newspaper loses reporters, editors and other key staff to graduation. If you have an interest in writing, journalism, photography or reviews then you should consider joining the college newspaper.

You can ask to write feature stories, get involved in major campus events as a photographer or review the latest movies for the student body. If you are planning on a career in journalism or any kind of writing, then being on the school newspaper can be invaluable experience.

School Radio Station

In some of the more rural areas, the college radio station is the only station people listen to. If you have an interest in becoming a broadcaster after you graduate, or if you just want to get involved in a group that tries to bring entertainment and attention to the school campus, then join the college radio station.

When you join the college radio station you can get experience in programming, news editing, being a radio personality or promotions. It can be experience that you use in a variety of ways after graduation.

Teaching Assistant

Even as a freshman, you can offer your services to faculty members as a teaching assistant or lab coordinator. It is a great way for you to get the inside track on your major field of study and find out what will be expected of you as you go through your college career.

On-Campus Job

Some students get off-campus jobs to help supplement their college income. But if you want to help yourself get more acclimated with college life, then get an on-campus job. Try the bookstore or any on-campus restaurants, stores or businesses that hire employees.

College can take some getting used to when you first arrive fresh out of high school. You can help your college transition by getting involved in college activities as soon as you arrive on campus.

10 College Mascots That Are Actually Cool

May 16th, 2011 in Entertainment, Fun Stuff, Social

There's a story behind every college mascot. Each one is an important, folksy piece of the school's culture, giving generations of students something to revere and collectively call their own. Of course, to the less spirited, the idea of (basically) grown men and women cheering for a dancing human dressed as an animal is silly, which is why these more unique mascots are so cool. When you see Mike the Tiger at an LSU game, for instance, you don't want to punch him in the gut because, well, he'd probably maul you to death. That's what you want on your side during a closely contested football slugfest. Read on to see if you school's mascot made the cut.

  1. Chief Osceola and Renegade, Florida State Seminoles: The Noles' pregame ritual is probably the most chills-inducing — definitely the most War Chant-inducing — in all of college football. As fans eagerly anticipate the opening kickoff, Chief Osceola, aboard his appaloosa horse Renegade, charges to midfield in Doak Campbell Stadium and spikes his flaming spear into the turf. The Chief's garb is authentic, designed by the ladies of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which wholeheartedly endorses the traditions of the school.
  2. Mike the Tiger, LSU Tigers: In most cases, "Tigers" is a cliche school nickname, but in LSU's case it holds special meaning. The name represents the Louisiana troops of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, and their fierce legacy is carried on by the live Bengal tiger. Currently living large in a $3 million habitat on campus featuring a waterfall, flowing stream, pond and lush greenery, Mike VI can be spotted by the opponent's locker room in Tiger Stadium on football game days, an intimidating sight for players already leery of Death Valley and its ferocious fans.
  3. Traveler, USC Trojans: It's not often that players marvel at the presence of the school's mascot. According to former USC All-American defensive back Nate Shaw, however, Traveler, a white horse ridden by a Trojan warrior, makes an actual impact on the team, "The horse is one of the greatest inspirational devices USC has. It definitely got the adrenaline going when I was playing and I think it still has an effect on the players." Today, Traveler VII patrols the sidelines of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
  4. The Masked Rider, Texas Tech Red Raiders: A tradition that predates FSU's or USC's, The Midnight Matador leads the Red Raiders football team onto field at Jones AT&T Stadium before each opening kickoff, working the crowd into a frenzy. Mounted on it is The Masked Rider, a mysterious man or woman donning a mask, bolero hat and a red and black cape. He or she has been Texas Tech's official mascot since the 1954 Gator Bowl, when coach DeWitt Weaver decided his team needed one in order to gain admission into the Southwest Conference to join instate schools Texas and Texas A&M.
  5. War Eagle, Auburn Tigers: "War Eagle" is the battle cry and fight song of Auburn; not the actual mascot, which is a Tiger. Regardless, the Eagle is cooler than most official mascots in college sports, so we thought we'd include it anyway. It's said that the eagle first appeared at a football game in 1892, when a Civil War vet brought one he found on the battlefield 30 years earlier. Witnesses claimed it got loose and circled the field just before Auburn undertook a game-winning drive to defeat rival Georgia. From that point forward, fans yelled "War Eagle" as a good omen. Since 2006, War Eagle VI has flown over Jordan-Hare Stadium on game day.
  6. Uga, Georgia Bulldogs: The SEC and most of the nation are familiar with Uga, Georgia's adorable yet testy white English Bulldog. The famous canine has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated and in the film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and made headlines — and received praise from the Georgia faithful — for biting an Auburn player after the team scored. Sadly, Uga VII passed away on February 4th due to canine lymphoma, so the latest in line has yet to be selected and introduced.
  7. Ralphie the Buffalo, Colorado Buffaloes: Colorado has not one, but two live buffalo mascots, Ralphie IV and Ralphie V, both of which pound the turf at Folsom Field with the football team prior to each kickoff. Through the years, each Ralphie has presented a challenge for its five handlers, especially the original, which caused damage to the field in 1966. The Ralphie tradition is so appreciated in the Rocky Mountain region that Ted Turner was inspired to donate Ralphie IV from his Montana ranch.
  8. Bevo, Texas Longhorns: With his majestic horns looming over the endzone at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, the Longhorns have a distinct advantage when it comes to mascot intimidation. For example, Bevo II charged an SMU cheerleader and Bevo V charged the Baylor band, incidents that certainly gave the Texas faithful something for which to cheer. There have been 14 Bevos total, and the current one, Bevo XII, had the privilege of attending the 2006 National Championship Game in the Rose Bowl, in which the Horns hooked Traveler and his Trojans.
  9. Raider, Ranger II and General Scott, Army Black Knights: Steady and reliable, the Army's mules have served as its mascots since 1899. The senior mule, Raider, and the two newer mules, Ranger II and General Scott, stroll the sidelines when the cadets are in action, continuing the legacy of their predecessors. Each of them represents the animal's usefulness to military operations through history, when it carried supplies, guns and ammunitions for long distances regardless of the conditions.
  10. Smokey, Tennessee Volunteers: The familiar, enthusiastic bark of Smokey, a coonhound, echoes through Neyland Stadium on fall Saturday afternoons. The dog secured the gig in 1953 when he barked the crowd into an uproar during a halftime selection contest held by The Pep Club. The late Rev. Bill Brooks provided the first few Smokeys until his death in 1986, at which point his wife and family undertook the caretaking duties. The latest Smokey, Smokey IX, has been faithfully serving since the 2004 Peach Bowl.

10 Video Game Features That Kids Today Take for Granted

April 28th, 2011 in Entertainment, Fun Stuff, Social, Technology

The constant upgrades and evolutions in video game technology make each new game or console feel cutting-edge, so it's easy to forget just how far they've come since home consoles started making waves in the late 1970s. (The Atari 2600 hit shelves in October 1977.) Games tend to be highly generational, as well: the nature of technology means that new consoles replace old ones, not augment them, so each new class of gamers comes to the recreation with the mindset that their games aren't just the latest and greatest, but the only ones available to play. As a result, the giant strides the field has made tend to be forgotten or ignored. If you're a younger gamer looking for perspective, or an older one who remembers too well the rough early days, these should jog your memory:

  1. Online gaming: Of the many, many ways video games have changed since their inception and market penetration, the most dazzling is easily the ability to play games online with friends across the country or strangers around the world. Collaborative gaming used to be a matter of watching your friend play a game and then taking turns with the controller, though things got easier with the rise of two-player games that split the work load. But doing anything beyond that took some serious wiring know-how; you could hook up computers and have a LAN party, and you could enjoy some multiplayer heads-up competitions in games like the Nintendo 64's GoldenEye 007, but that was about it. The ability to go online, which is now easier than ever thanks to Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network, fundamentally altered the size of a gamer's community.
  2. Saving your progress: Sad but true: There were days when video games, still following their arcade-based forerunner's example, were all-or-nothing affairs. You played until you beat the game, quit, or got tired. (It helped that a lot of early games were really, really repetitive.) But the arrival in the late 1980s of The Legend of Zelda brought battery packs that let you save your game progress and complete missions on your own time. This didn't just alleviate headaches for gamers; it changed the way games were designed, paving the way for the epic, sprawling games of today. Such titles would be impossible to conquer without the ability to save your game.
  3. Wireless controllers: Game consoles used wired controllers well into the 2000s. Although wireless options were available, their occasionally poor battery performance and weak signals made them risky for most gamers, and the cost of such specialty accessories could also be prohibitive. Some console makers tried to get around the limits of wired controllers by selling extension cords that allowed players to sit farther back from their TV screens, though these just added to the mass of tangled cables that accumulated on the game console's shelf. But the generation of consoles that included the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 finally made wireless controllers the default, allowing for a (literally) less tethered feeling for gamers who had grown tired of tripping over one more wire. It makes using a control pad feel even more like using a remote control, and the wireless set up makes for easy sharing and storage. A huge upgrade.
  4. Sandbox set-ups: It's almost a given now that most major games are, to a degree, "sandbox" titles that let players explore the game's world at will and often complete tasks in whatever order they see fit. It's not just classic role-playing games, either. Titles like the Grand Theft Auto series, Fallout 3, and Red Dead Redemption bring with them the promise of open-ended worlds that let the player roam around instead of going from quest to quest with no say in the matter. Sandbox games were born of a number of other perks on this list, from better graphics to save files, but they've taken root in the industry like no one could have predicted. It's amazing to see that so many games released today are committed to pushing this particular envelope, but it's worth noting how lucky we are to have them.
  5. Expansion packs: For years, a video game's experience started and ended with the cartridge you brought home from the store. You could replay it as many times as you could stand, but the game itself never changed. If you wanted more action or adventure with the characters, you had to wait for a sequel or just suck it up and accept disappointment. Kids today, though, are accustomed to a feature that's still mind-blowing to players of a certain age: expansion packs. By syncing your console online, you can download software updates and patches that improve the game's performance, but you can also download entire new levels that broaden the game's universe. Some of these expansion packs even change the meaning of the game: Fallout 3, for instance, lets you download an expansion pack that changes the original game's ending and adds missions that take place after the main action. Other games, like the Call of Duty titles, have new maps for multiplayer battles. Games are more fluid now. They've moved away from pure entertainment and become more immersive experiences.
  6. Adult content: "Adult content" in this context doesn't just mean sex, though there's plenty of that, too, from RPGs to morality-breaking sandboxers like the Grand Theft Auto games (which allows a player to visit a prostitute, engage in sex for a health boost, then kill and rob her). And it doesn't really mean violence, either, or not totally, despite the fact that more and more games feature hyper-realistic combat scenarios that simulate murder in degrees that would have terrified kids in 1984. More than both those, the adult-ness of today's games deals with ethical ambiguity. Legions of role-playing games and even a few first-person shooters give the player the option to choose a moral wrong in a situation, whether it's betraying a friendly character or killing teammates to get ahead. Friendly fire isn't just programmed in, it's given serious repercussions. That kind of nuance might seem rote to younger players just coming to the field, but it's an amazing leap forward from the simplistic games of yesterday that only asked a player to collect coins, explore maps, and jump on enemies like cartoons. Today's games let you make real choices. Sometimes there isn't even a clear right or wrong; players are presented with options that each have pros and cons, and they have to decide how to shape the game.
  7. Revolutionary physics: The graphics in video games have obviously gotten worlds better since the 8-bit days, but it's worth thinking about the fact that these developments in imaging software have come with similar advances in the physics engines of games. Shooters and RPGs let players roam over differing terrains and climb just about any surface they can see, and a growing number of games are able to use 3-D rendering to play with gravity and flight. The Assassin's Creed series, for instance, lets players scale walls and towers before diving off again, while sporting titles like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater give players the ability to feel like they're sliding down ramps and through the air in real life. At the extreme end of the spectrum, you've got games like Valve's Portal and Portal 2, which push players to think three-dimensionally about every aspect of the space around them. These games offer multiple solutions for puzzles and problems, as well, forcing players to dig in and rethink the physical world in new ways.
  8. Downloadable games: It's not just patches and expansions available online, but entire games, whether you want a title designed to take advantge of the latest console's ability or a throwback title you play for nostalgia's sake. Once again, the amazing convenience of this cannot be overstated. Even a few years ago, it was impossible to think about being able to download entire games. If you wanted a new title, you bought it or rented it from a store (an actual, physical store!) and that was that. The notion of constant connectivity was a vague one, and the idea of being able to get new games just by pushing a few buttons was just a nice dream. Now, though, it's industry standard to make full games downloadable.
  9. Identifiable objectives: As games have grown more complex, they've also grown simpler. Case in point: most major titles now in any genre include clear, identifiable objectives that the player has to reach in order to finish a mission or advance to the next level. (Sports games are the obvious exception, since the goals have always been, well, goals.) Gone are the rage-inducing commands from a role-playing game to merely explore an area until you meet the right character; you now have markers and guides to get you to that person quicker. It's not that games hold your hand these days; rather, their makers realized that there's a difference between an open world and a frustrating one, and today's titles have enough signposts to keep you from getting lost but are also loose enough to let you find your own approach. It's an indication that game makers are more interested in telling a good story than in loading the player up with meaningless tasks.
  10. Quality portable devices: These basically didn't exist until a couple of years ago. Sure, there have been handheld units that inspired love, like the original incarnation of the Game Boy, but that gadget's yellow-green screen is coloring the collective memory of gamers. Old-school portable game units were awful. Sega's Game Gear was full-color but drained batteries at a laughable rate, and Atari's Lynx had the same problems. Nintendo's Virtual Boy wasn't even portable, just a desk-mounted face-mask that induced headaches in everyone dumb enough to try it. It wasn't until a few years ago and the releases of the PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS that portable gaming made real gains. Each system took a different approach — the PSP opted for a bigger screen, while the DS used a dual-screen layout — but they both made smart use of the advances in small-format graphics and rechargeable batteries that have helped boost the popularity of smartphones as gaming devices. They're also a whole lot lighter, and the visuals are mighty impressive for handhelds. Most importantly, they're so powerful and light that they become easy to take for granted. Older gamers should take heart, though: in 30 years, today's kids will be griping about all the things their children take for granted. There's no telling yet what those things will be, but they're bound to be amazing.

10 Babe Ruth Facts Every Baseball Fan Should Know

April 26th, 2011 in Entertainment, Feature

On April 27, 1947, Babe Ruth, a few short months after being diagnosed with malignant throat cancer, stood before the New York faithful in the house that he built and received the highest honor a true Yankee can receive — the retirement of his number. At the time, he and former teammate Lou Gehrig were the only Yankees to hold that distinction. Babe Ruth Day was not just a Yankees celebration, however — it was a league-wide celebration to commemorate the most beloved athlete in American history. If you spoke to any young boy at the time, whether he was from the Bronx or Omaha, he would invariably name the Sultan of Swat has his hero and could recite dozens of Ruth facts on command. But as time has passed, memories have faded and new heroes have been made, and newer generations of baseball fans haven't seemed to maintain the same appreciation for the most dominant player in the game's 142-year history. The following facts are reminders of his proficiency as an all-around player and transcendence as a star. These are just a few of the indelible marks he left on America's pastime.

  1. Ruth was bestowed the nickname "Babe" once he joined the Orioles: Nineteen years old and fresh out of St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, George Herman Ruth, Jr. signed with the then-minor league Baltimore Orioles, his hometown team, for $250 in 1914. In order for the contract to be valid, Jack Dunn, owner and manager of the team, became Ruth's legal guardian — 25 was the age of majority at the time. When Orioles players first encountered Ruth, they referred to him as "Jack's newest babe," which thereafter stuck as "Babe" publicly. Interestingly, as his career progressed, his teammates refused to call him by "Babe," instead calling him "Bam," "Jidge" and "The Big Fellow."
  2. Ruth could've been a Philadelphia Athletic: Before the Red Sox jumped at the opportunity to acquire Ruth for cash, Dunn dangled him in front of Connie Mack, then the Athletics manager and part owner, who elected not to send $10,000 in exchange for Ruth, Ernie Shore and Ben Egan. Although the Athletics were the defending World Series champs and were in the process of winning their second consecutive AL championship, the organization was undergoing financial problems, and the team was dispersed after the season, resulting in eight straight last-place finishes starting in 1915. New York Giants manager John McGraw was angered that he wasn't offered Ruth, and chose to never do business with the Orioles again. That decision eventually cost him Lefty Grove.
  3. As a starting pitcher for the Red Sox, Ruth led the league in ERA: Most people know that Ruth played for the Red Sox before joining the Yankees and he initially made an impact as a starting pitcher. But it's often forgotten that the he became among the best pitchers in baseball once he reached his peak, leading the league in ERA (1.75), shutouts (nine) and complete games (23) in 1916. From 1915 to 1917, he led all lefties in the majors in wins with 65. Because of his effectiveness on the mound, Red Sox manager Ed Barrow was reluctant to insert Ruth into the lineup, once saying "I'd be the laughingstock of baseball if I took the best lefthander in the league and put him in the outfield." He eventually reconsidered.
  4. Ruth helped lead the Red Sox to the 1918 World Series title: Ruth was the opening day starter yet ended the season leading the league in home runs (11) and slugging percentage (.555), and finishing second in on-base percentage (.411) and third in runs batted in (66). During the World Series against the Chicago Cubs, which was played in September because of the "Work or Fight" order of World War I, he pitched a shutout in Game 1 and won Game 4 while batting fourth — he's the only pitcher in World Series history to bat anywhere but ninth in the order. His hitting wasn't quite as effective, though, as he hit just .200 and only managed one extra-base hit, a triple.
  5. Ruth tossed 29 and 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in the World Series, once a record: The streak started in Game 2 of the 1917 World Series after Ruth surrendered a first-inning solo homerun to Hi Myers of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He scattered just six hits in the next 13 innings en route to a 14-inning complete game victory. Sherry Smith was the losing pitcher, merely lasting 13 and 1/3 innings — both pitched two-game workloads by today's standards. The Sox won the Series in five games. Ruth's streak ended in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the 1918 World Series, when he gave up an RBI on a Charlie Hollocher groundout. The record stood for 43 years until Whitey Ford pitched 33 and 1/3 scoreless frames ending in the 1961 World Series.
  6. Ruth punched an ump and facilitated a perfect game — sort of: As with many other elite athletes through history, Ruth possessed an enormous ego and a temper to match. During a game he started versus the Senators in 1917, he allowed his temper to get the best of him, and ironically, it happened to be for the better. Incensed by the calls of umpire Brick Owens after walking the first batter he faced, Ruth was promptly ejected, causing him to strike Owens behind his left ear — he was later fined $100 for his actions. Policemen dragged Ruth off the field and Ernie Shore, whom was sold to the Red Sox by the Orioles with Ruth in 1914, replaced him on the mound. The runner was thrown out and Shore subsequently retired the next 26 batters, defeating the Senators 4-0. Originally recognized as a perfect game, it's technically considered a shared no-hitter today but referred to by many as an "unofficial" perfect game, a feat also accomplished by Harvey Haddix and Pedro Martinez.
  7. Ruth's sale to the Yankees made the team's owners the Red Sox's landlords: Of course, the famous — or infamous if you're a Red Sox fan — trade of Ruth to the Yankees for cash began the unfortunate Curse of the Bambino and Boston's 86-year World Series title drought. Ruth forced matters after the 1919 season when he threatened not to play without a salary increase, demanding the doubling of his salary to $20,000, which Red Sox owner Harry Frazee refused. The Sox floated several trade offers that were rejected, and ultimately had to decide on the White Sox's offer of Shoeless Joe Jackson and $60,000 or the Yankees' offer of $100,000. Franzee's official deal with the Yankees included a $300,000 loan backed by a mortgage on Fenway Park, which made the Yankee's owners the landlords of the Red Sox. In hindsight, it adds insult to injury. But Franzee was happy with the swap, justifying it by telling the The Boston Globe that "no club could have given me the equivalent in men without wrecking itself."
  8. Ruth didn't only break power records, he shattered them: In 1918, Ruth was finally given the opportunity to hit more regularly, tallying 11 homeruns, as previously mentioned, in 317 at-bats. The next year, he hit 29 in 432 at-bats, far surpassing Socks Seybold's American League record of 16, Gavvy Cravath's modern major league record of 24 and Buck Freeman's 19th century record of 25. In 1920, his first year with the Yankees, he hit 54 in 457 at-bats, more than any other major league team aside from the Phillies. His record .847 slugging percentage stood until Barry Bonds broke it 2001. Currently, Ruth still boasts four of the 10 best single-season slugging percentages in baseball history. In 1921, he hit 59 in 540 at-bats, breaking Roger Connor's career homerun record of 136 and establishing his own that lasted until Roger Maris hit 61 in 1961. Fourteen years later after his best season, he retired with 714 homeruns, more than twice as many as his nearest competitor. Hank Aaron broke the record in 1974.
  9. Ruth won only one MVP award: It may seem like a major injustice that he didn't win several MVP awards — Dale Murphy, for example, who isn't in the Hall of Fame, has two — but for a portion of Ruth's career, it either simply wasn't given or he wasn't eligible, as repeat winners weren't allowed. Considering that Barry Bonds currently holds the record with seven, it's interesting to speculate just how many Ruth could've won by today's standards. One metric that could be used to determine where he ranked statistically in each season during his career is Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which indicates how many more wins a player is worth than a replacement player. According to Baseball-Reference, he led the league in WAR 12 times. Accounting for the unique narratives provided by other successful players each season and the repetitiveness that would've come with winning 12 MVP awards, one could reasonably conclude that Ruth would have a total close to Bonds' seven.
  10. Ruth was the first high-dollar baseball player, setting the precedent for modern players: Upon joining the Yankees, Ruth received the $20,000 contract he requested from the Red Sox, and by 1930, his salary had risen to $80,000, by far the highest in baseball. He earned more than President Herbert Hoover, who made $75,000, which he rightly defended by saying "I know, but I had a better year than Hoover." When he retired, Gehrig became the highest-paid player in the league, earning $30,000 — much less than Ruth, but much more than baseball players earned before Ruth emerged as a star. Over the course of his career, Ruth made about a million dollars in salaries and bonuses and even more money from endorsements, writings and other ventures.

10 Underrated Picks for This Year’s NFL Draft

April 21st, 2011 in Entertainment, Feature

A team's draft fortune is often determined by its least celebrated selections. Every football fan is familiar with the stories of Tom Brady, Rodney Harrison and Donald Driver, each of whom were late-round draft picks not expected to make significant impacts. There were draft day unknowns such as Jerry Rice, who honed their skills at small, lesser known colleges and blossomed into Pro Football Hall of Famers. As you follow your team's every move on draft day, keep the following potential diamonds in the rough in mind — one just might propel your team to the next level.

  1. Will Rackley, OL — Lehigh: The transition from blocking FCS defensive linemen to blocking NFL offensive linemen can be steep, but at 6'4, 307 pounds, Rackley appears to be up to the task. His combination of size and textbook technique enabled him to dominate the Patriot League and enabled his offense to rank among the best in the conference. He's earned numerous All-American and first-team selections, but perhaps most impressive, he was a member of the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll.
  2. Pat Devlin, QB — Delaware: Devlin's involvement in a murky quarterback situation at Penn State prompted his transfer to Delaware, where Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco previously developed into a first-round selection. The move paid off, as he emerged as perhaps the FCS's most potent passer. In 2010, he was named CAA Football Offensive Player of the Year after tallying 3,032 yards, 22 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His completion percentage of 68 led the nation and his quarterback rating of 151.64 ranked fifth. Possessing a fluid throwing motion and excellent accuracy, he could develop into an NFL starter in the right situation.
  3. Graig Cooper, RB — Miami: A torn ACL sustained in the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl — after leading the team with 695 rushing yards on 5.2 yards per carry and 1,417 all-purpose yards during the regular season — knocked Cooper from the top of draft boards, limiting his production in the 2010 season. He did show improvement during the combine, however, running a 4.6 40-yard dash and posting a 6.66 3-cone drill. As a result, some scouts are optimistic that he'll return to pre-injury form.
  4. Rob Housler, TE — Florida Atlantic: Given his size, speed and production, Housler is one of the most exciting unknowns of this year's draft. He's 6'5, 248 pounds and he ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at the combine. With an 80-inch wingspan, he exhibits good blocking potential. Last season, he posted 629 yards on 39 catches with four touchdowns, not bad for the former 225-pound receiver.
  5. ZaVious Robbins, WR — Hardin-Simmons: Often compared to DeSean Jackson, Robbins has blistering speed — he ran in the 4.3s during pro day — and the elusiveness to make big plays with regularity. At 5'9, 175 pounds, he figures to be inserted into the slot as a receiver, and, of course, he'll be utilized as a potentially dangerous kick returner — he made a few long returns during his college career. In his senior season, he tallied 1,271 yards on 89 receptions, 12 of which were touchdowns. Another plus for Robbins: he was named to the 2010 ESPN Academic All-America Football Team with a 3.92 GPA.
  6. Ricky Elmore, DE — Arizona: Leading the Pac 10 in sacks with 11, Elmore anchored a solid Arizona defense that surrendered just 21.6 points per game last season. He's adept at getting into the backfield using his excellent technique and relentless energy, qualities that good, consistent NFL defensive ends must possess.
  7. Kenrick Ellis, DT — Hampton: Who knew the FCS could produce such monstrous linemen? Standing at 6'5 and weighing in at 346 pounds, Ellis originally occupied a spot on South Carolina's roster, but was kicked off the team for repeatedly violating team rules. He rebounded nicely at Hampton, accumulating 22.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks in two season, garnering first-team All-MEAC honors. A promising prospect, he'll need to keep his attitude in check in order to forge a productive NFL career.
  8. Chris Carter, LB — Fresno State: Fresno State is associated with high-powered offenses, but one of its defensive players, Carter, drew rave reviews for his performances over the last couple of years. Named the 2010 WAC Defensive Player of the Year and twice named first-team All-WAC, he tallied 19.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss during his career. He's expected to move from defensive end to linebacker because of his size — 6'1, 248 — where he could be an effective pass rusher. During his attention-grabbing combine performance, he ran a 4.58 40-yard dash, a 6.88 3-cone drill and benched 225 pounds 27 times.
  9. Justin Rogers, CB — Richmond: Good corners are always difficult to come by, which is why scouts have taken notice of Rogers, another FCS standout. In four seasons at Richmond, he received first-team All-CAA honors four times. His versatility is most remarkable — not only did he record 12 interceptions during his career, but he also participated in several offensive possessions and broke Brian Westbrook's CAA record in career kickoff return yards. He has the speed to smother NFL receivers, running a 4.45 40-yard dash, 4.2 20-yard shuttle and 7.21 3-cone drill.
  10. Jeron Johnson, S — Boise State: Defense is a primary reason Boise State has won so many games in such a short amount of time, and Johnson was a big part of it. Starting 44 games during his career, he led the team in tackles three times with 98, 91 and 82, garnering him a first-team All-WAC selection in 2010 and second-team All-WAC selections in 2008 and 2009. He may not have the measurables that would indicate he'll be an elite safety at the next level, but he has shown the consistency and toughness that NFL teams covet from the position.