Jags After High School

June 5, 2009

Anwar Phillips tries to separate himself from the crowd

Filed under: Uncategorized — nwhsfb @ 6:13 pm
Friday, June 5, 2009
by: Edward Lee
The Baltimore Sun

It’s difficult to gauge a player’s effectiveness during an Organized Team Activity because, well, it’s an OTA and not training camp or the regular season. But cornerback Anwar Phillips had a pretty good day during Tuesday’s passing camp.

Phillips hauled in an interception when a Joe Flacco pass bounced off wide receiver Marcus Smith’s hands, deflected away a Troy Smith pass to wide receiver Justin Harper, and broke up Smith’s pass to wide receiver Ernie Wheelwright.

“I’ve had a couple rough weeks in the beginning,” Phillips said. “I just have to start doing things and go back to doing what I was doing before I got here. Just have to focus on the defense and realize what I’m asked to do and just got out there and just play.”

Phillips’ future with the Ravens is unclear. With Fabian Washington, Domonique Foxworth, Samari Rolle, Frank Walker, Chris Carr and rookie third-round pick Lardarius Webb appearing to have cemented the first six cornerback spots, it would seem that Phillips is competing with Derrick Martin and Evan Oglesby for what might be one or two spots on the team.

After signing with the Ravens at the beginning of training camp last summer, Phillips was cut and re-signed by the organization four different times. Phillips said he has grown accustomed to the sport’s yo-yo nature.

“That’s the NFL,” he said. “Every day, you’ve got to work because you don’t know when it’s your last. Be grateful every day for the chance to get up and the opportunity to play. You just hope that your play gets you to the next day and the next day and the end of the season.”



March 17, 2009

Trivers joins football staff at Rutgers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — nwhsfb @ 7:48 am
March 17, 2009
The Gazette
by: John Y. Wehmueller

Victimized by a house-cleaning of the Syracuse (N.Y.) University football program at the end of last season, former Northwest head coach Randy Trivers landed his second college coaching job last week.

On March 5, Rutgers (N.J.) University announced it had hired Trivers as its running backs coach, the same position he held for two seasons at Syracuse. He was on the job that day, when the Scarlet Knights opened spring practice.

“It’s been fast and furious,” Trivers said. “It’s my job to make sure the running back position continues to be productive for this program, and to enhance the productivity of that group, as far as all the things running backs are asked to do.”

Trivers is a former running back himself, having played at both Sherwood High and the College of the Holy Cross (Mass.), which plays in NCAA Division I-AA. After graduation, he became a graduate assistant at the University of Maryland before becoming Northwest’s first-ever varsity football coach when the school opened in 1998.

In nine seasons at Northwest, Trivers’ teams went 73-27 and made the playoffs six times. His only losing season was his first, when a team with no seniors went 2-8. The Jaguars went 9-2 the following year, and went on to win the Class 3A state championship in 2004.

After an undefeated regular season and 4A West Region championship two years later, Trivers made the jump back to the college level, signing on to coach the Orangemen backs under Greg Robinson. The team went 5-19 during Trivers’ two seasons in Syracuse, and the entire staff was let go.

“It’s not easy when you’re in a situation where it’s an unknown, you don’t know where you’re going to land,” Trivers said. “Fortunately for me, I landed at a fantastic program with a highly successful head coach in Greg Schiano.”

There was some speculation within the county that Trivers might return to the high school sidelines, speculation that only increased after his successor at Northwest, Andrew Fields, stepped aside after two seasons.

“I certainly will always look fondly upon my time as a high school football coach,” Trivers said. “Right now, my priority is trying to be as good as I can be as a college football coach.”

One of Trivers’ new running back charges is junior Jourdan Brooks, a former rival from Seneca Valley. Trivers said he did not know Brooks well when each was plying his trade in Germantown. That was not the case with junior safety Joe Lefeged, a member of Trivers’ final Northwest team in 2006.


January 28, 2009

Patience is Dewayne Whitaker’s virtue

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — nwhsfb @ 8:01 am
Former Northwest standout readies for shot at professional football
January 28, 2009
The Gazette
by: Dan Greenberg

The adage “good things come to those who wait” has been the story of Dewayne Whitaker’s life. For the 2003 Northwest alumnus, success has never come quickly.

But it’s always come.

Now, after being drafted in the first round by the Georgia Stallions of the new United National Gridiron League, Whitaker is again taking the road less traveled. With his professional career slated to begin Feb. 8, the Germantown native is ready to make the most of his first big break, one for which he’s waited for over a year.

“It’s been a lot of ups, a lot of downs,” said Whitaker, 23, a four-year starting cornerback at Hofstra (N.Y.) University before graduating in 2007. “But I’m just thanking God for the opportunities I have. I’m anxious to show if you can play, you can play.”

At Northwest, he was “a late bloomer” according to former assistant coach Andrew Fields. He started as a junior and captained the team as a senior, but first began turning heads the following summer at the 2003 Maryland Football Coaches Association East vs. West Senior All-Star Game. In a showcase for the state’s top college recruits, Whitaker’s star shined brightest in the eyes of many.

“That was the first time me and Mr. [Randy] Trivers mentioned the word ‘pro’ with Dewayne,” recalled Fields. “A few of the coaches were talking about how every all-star game has a few marquee guys, but who would be the one that might wind up in the NFL, and the name we came away with was Dewayne’s. They say Steady Eddie wins the race and that’s what he was. He was one of those guys who you didn’t see too much at first but just has a steady upward curve from freshman to senior year.”

The first real test of his mettle came in his second year at Hofstra, when he blew out the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, forcing him to redshirt the 2004 season. Though he immediately grabbed back his starting job in the Pride’s defensive backfield in 2005, Whitaker said he didn’t feel 100 percent again until his senior year. At least, mentally.

“My rehab was actually only for six months and I was basically running full speed again, but it wasn’t just my knee getting back to what it was,” he said. “Even though I wasn’t hurting and running just as fast if not faster, me being away from football for a whole year made it hard to get my instincts back. … A lot of guys come back afraid to make that cut, to ever really test their knee out. Once you fully test it and you realize, ‘I’m back,’ that’s the biggest hurdle.”

Whitaker’s final career hurdle will be his most difficult, however. After his senior season, 2007, Whitaker earned workouts with several National Football League teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

He essentially travelled North America seeking a roster spot, earning a three-day workout with the Columbus Destroyers of the now-suspended Arena Football League and another with the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League.

He found out that his alma mater — a Division I-AA school, the level below I-A — often made more of an imprint than his performance. But the story of his college roommate, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston, gives him faith that his day will come.

“I was the cover corner, he was the go-to guy,” Whitaker said. “I still talk to Marques very week. He was the [fourth] to last pick of the draft and only because of his size. No one gave him a chance. People slept on his ability to play football, and now look at him; one of the best receivers in the game.”

Whitaker came back to his roots this past year, serving as Northwest’s JV defensive coordinator and working with the varsity defensive backs. But he isn’t ready to give up the game on the field.

On the contrary, if you ask him, his career’s just getting started. His track record is all the evidence he needs.

“On [the Stallions], there are only like one or two DI-AA guys and the rest are D-I,” Whitaker said. “This league is supposed to be an opportunity to get a fair chance. It’s not going to be political. So when I get my chance against these guys that are supposed to be better than me because they’ve played in bowl games, I want to show I’m better. I think I can play for a long time.”


October 30, 2008

UMass boasts what Rams lack in experience

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — nwhsfb @ 12:48 am

By Ryan Fleming

The Daily Collegian

After the Massachusetts football team blew out Bryant, 42-7, the Minutemen gained the confidence they need in traveling to Rhode Island on Saturday.

Quarterback Liam Coen and wide receivers Victor Cruz and Jeremy Horne at their sharpest and could go a long way against the Ram defense. This game is a must-win for the No. 15 Minutemen (5-3, 2-2 Colonial Athletic Association) if they want any hope to get to the postseason.

In last Saturday’s game against the Bulldogs, Coen was at his best, completing 11-of-18 passes for 389 yards and five touchdowns.

When Coen was pressured, which was a rarity due to the outstanding play of his linemen, he calmly slipped outside of the pocket, evaded tacklers while gaining more time and released his near-perfect throws.

Saturday should be no different.

Coen and his targets are going up against one of the worst defenses in the CAA.

Rhode Island (2-7, 0-5 CAA) has allowed 31.6 points per game and almost 1,700 yards rushing. Its passing defense is much of the same: 2,160 passing yards allowed and almost 13 yards per catch.

Part of the season for the lack of defensive output by the Rams is that they’re very young. A large portion of the URI defensive corps is either sophomores or freshmen.

Rhode Island’s leading tackler Matt Hansen is a sophomore. Hansen played in all of the Rams’ 11 games last season and was second on the team in tackles (73). With the experience that Hansen got last year, the defensive linemen/defensive back used it to his advantage in his playing time this year.

Many of the Rhode Island defenders don’t have that luxury. For many of them, this is their first season of seeing any live-game action and that inexperience is costing the team.

Redshirt junior tailback Tony Nelson should also have a good day on the ground. Nelson left in the first quarter of last week’s game with an injury, but according to UMass coach Don Brown after the game, Nelson should be ready to go against URI.

In comparison, the Rams have allowed 171 more rushing yards than the Minutemen. Rhode Island has given up an average of 5.2 yards per carry so far this season.

Another vital aspect the Minutemen have on their side is the experience that their second-string obtained last week.

Midway through the third quarter UMass coach Don Brown took out most of his starters and replaced them with their substitutes.

Backup quarterbacks Scott Woodward and Spencer Whipple, in addition to backup running backs Korrey Davis, Alphonsus Aguh, Jonathan Hernandez and Brandon White were some of the players that entered the game on the offensive side of the ball. Sam Besong, Anthony Rouzier and Shane Viveiros were a few of the players who played for the defense.

Ryan Fleming can be reached at rfleming@student.umass.edu.


Cut & Comeback

Filed under: Uncategorized — nwhsfb @ 12:35 am

The Baltimore Ravens cut and resigned cornerback Anwar Phillips to the practice squad. The re-signing of Phillips was due to having kicker Steve Hauschka promoted to the roster opening a practice squad spot for Phillips. The Ravens continued to be heavily plagued with injuries including cornerbacks Chris McAlister (knee) and Samari Rolle (neck) has been ailling all season. The resign of Phillips counts as the third stint with Baltimore.

In other in-county news, former Georgetown Prep runningback Marcus Mason was signed to the New York Jets active roster from the Ravens’ practice squad.

October 27, 2008

Rutgers defense getting reputation as being hazardous to health of other QBs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — nwhsfb @ 12:58 am

by Tom Luicci/Star-Ledger Staff

Monday October 27, 2008, 11:21 AM

Rutgers’ defense is quickly gaining a reputation for being hazardous to the health of opposing quarterbacks.

Are we saluting injuries? No way, but the trend can not be ignored.

Editor’s note (8 p.m. update): We’re surprised by some of the reaction. In no way is there a suggestion that this is intentional, dirty or unsportsmanlike. It is not. And we are not suggesting that it is. The item simply points out that Rutgers defense is knocking opposing QBs out of games with some regularity. Just as the Rutgers defense is shutting down top RBs with some regularity. Just as the Rutgers defense is having trouble forcing turnovers with regularity. Again, there is no implication that this is being done intentionally or malicously.

Remember the hits that safety Joe Lefeged delivered on Syracuse’s Andrew Robinson and Maryland’s Jordan Steffy last season? The latter was knocked out of the game with a concussion after Lefeged drilled him.

This year, Rutgers has forced three Big East quarterbacks to the sidelines with head and/or neck injuries. West Virginia’s Pat White didn’t play the fourth quarter against the Knights and then missed his next start against Syracuse because of a head injury. Connecticut’s Zach Frazier didn’t play on Saturday against Cincinnati because of a head injury — one week after meeting up with Rutgers’ defense.

And Pittsburgh’s Bill Stull was knocked out of Saturday’s game with a neck injury and had to be carted off the field on a stretcher.


Bowie St. 14, Va. Union 13

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — nwhsfb @ 12:56 am

BOWIE, Md. — Andre Johnson threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Dean Boateng and Michael Gagne added the extra point with 51.7 seconds left to lift Bowie State (4-4, 3-0 CIAA) to victory.

Patrick Mills gained 135 yards rushing and had a TD on 16 carries for Virginia Union (5-4, 3-3).


October 23, 2008

WVU Was Rehearsal For ‘Nova

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — nwhsfb @ 1:04 am

by Mike Barber

The Daily News Record

October 23, 2008

HARRISONBURG – Villanova’s best preparation for Saturday’s football game against No. 1 James Madison may not have taken place on a practice field in suburban Philadelphia this week. It might have come on Aug. 30 in Morgantown, W.Va.

That’s when the Wildcats played the Mountaineers and their vaunted rushing attack, led by star quarterback Pat White.

Although WVU beat Division I-AA Villanova 48-21, the Wildcats got a dress rehearsal of sorts for Saturday’s matchup with the No. 1 Dukes (6-1 overall, 4-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association), who run the same spread option attack as WVU.

“West Virginia did help us get ready for JMU,” senior cornerback Salim Koroma said Wednesday. “They run some of the same plays with Pat White and the quarterback for JMU, Rodney Landers. They’re like the same player. They’re both running backs in the backfield.”

No. 7 Villanova (5-1, 3-0) also runs basically that same offense, so the Wildcats’ defense – like the Dukes’ – spends much of its practice time defending the same plays it will see Saturday.

In the loss to WVU, Villanova held the Mountaineers – a team still struggling to transition out of the Rich Rodriguez era — to just 149 yards rushing and White to just 63.

Villanova plays a 3-3 defense – a scheme normally designed to get extra defensive backs on the field in an effort to stymie passing. But the Wildcats have still excelled against the run, giving up a league-low 80 rushing yards per game.

How? According to junior linebacker Osayi Osunde, the lion’s share of the credit goes to the team’s three down defensive lineman, ends Greg Miller and Dave Dalessandro and nose guard Phil Matusz.

In the 3-3 defense, the three linemen clog the gaps and create a virtual wall at the line of scrimmage. The next line of the defense, the three linebackers, can rush into any open lanes to stuff running plays.

“Our D-line, I think, is one of the top in our conference,” Osunde said Wednesday. “After they get their jobs done, it just leaves everything up to the linebackers. “We come down the line fast and hard. We blow things up after they blow things up.”

In the middle, the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Matusz is a massive space eater, in the mold of the NFL’s Ted Washington. Miller (6-3, 250) and Dalessandro (6-3, 265) on the ends have the size and strength to jam up the line of scrimmage, but they also run well enough to help when backs inevitably bounce plays to the outside.

That’s also when defensive backs – like Koroma – get involved in the run defense. In all, eight players have at least 20 tackles this season for Villanova. But like Osunde, Koroma said run-stopping starts with the three big bodies at the line of scrimmage.

“We have a relentless defensive line,” Koroma said. “Our defensive line is probably one of the best or the best in the CAA. We feel as though if we can stop the run we can win the game. I know we have a scheme and everything, but it’s really about how hard we play and how relentless our D-line is. Our D-line is the pride of our defense.”

JMU’s offensive players have noticed.

“I think that’s their whole mindset,” Landers said Wednesday after practice. “They want those guys to basically protect their linebackers, try to free them up so they can make some plays. …  They like to get their hands on you and disrupt the action in the backfield.”

Getting their hands on Landers will be the key to slowing down JMU’s offense, which leads the CAA at 261.7 rushing yards per game. It’s an attack that has become even more Landers- based than last year.

Despite the return of senior tailback Eugene Holloman, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, Landers has accounted for 797 of the Dukes’ 1,832 rushing yards this year. Holloman has 424 and Griff Yancey has added 312.

Landers is second in the CAA in rushing, averaging 113.9 yards per game.

“We think he’s the best offensive threat in the league,” JMU coach Mickey Matthews said Wednesday. “We’ve encouraged him to have the ball in his hands. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we’re a better football team when we’re carrying the ball.”

Wednesday, Holloman – who hasn’t had the explosive element to his game that he did last season – admitted he hasn’t been completely healthy for the first seven games of the season.

“I don’t know. My legs just feel, I can’t even describe it,” Holloman said. “I wasn’t 100 percent.”

Holloman said he’s been bothered by a strained left quad, and has no lingering problems with his surgically repaired knee. Matthews acknowledged that Holloman hasn’t been the weapon he was in 2005 – when he scored on five runs of 50 yards or longer.

 Still, the coach said that Holloman at “90 percent, he’s one of the top running backs in the country.

“I don’t think he’s quite the back he was. But he’s still a dadgum good football player. Is he the Eugene Holloman of two years ago? He’s probably not. But he’s an excellent running back.”


October 8, 2008

Anwar Phillips signed to Ravens’ Practice Squad

Filed under: Uncategorized — nwhsfb @ 5:21 pm

OCTOBER 8, 2008

The Baltimore Sun reports the Ravens have signed CB Anwar Phillips to the practice squad and released DT J’Vonne Parker from the practice squad.

This is Anwar Phillips’ third stint at an NFL practice squad; his first year with Baltimore while spending the first two with New Orleans.

Anwar Phillips initially made the 53-man roster by making the final cuts on August 30 until being waived by the Baltimore Ravens days later after the club signed Evan Oglesby from the Dallas Cowboys.


October 3, 2008

UMass Speedster Makes It Happen

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — nwhsfb @ 7:27 am


Written by: Kyle Belanger – editor in chief, WMSJ

October 3, 2008

Tony Nelson understands patience. He knows what it means to wait for his opening.

Fortunately for the UMass football team, the 5-foot-10, 210-pound dreadlocked tailback also knows how to make a huge impact when he gets his chance to explode.

In this season’s opener, his first game as the team’s featured back, Nelson was nothing short of outstanding, rushing for 171 yards on 20 carries, including a monster 64-yard touchdown strike, as the Minutemen downed Albany, 28-16. Nelson’s coming-out party against the Great Danes also included a 2-yard TD catch from Liam Coen.

“When I first got here, I was a pretty quiet guy. I got here a week before the first game, and didn’t make it to camp, so I didn’t really know anybody, and that was frustrating,” he recalled. “But I was behind Steve (Baylark) and Matt (Lawrence), so I had two great guys to watch and learn from. And (coach Don Brown) kept telling me, ‘Be patient and work hard. Your time will come.'”

There’s no question that Tony Nelson’s time is now.

With a running style that can be likened to that of Marshall Faulk (“There’s a reason I switched my number from 17 to 28 this year,” he quips with a cool laugh), Nelson has proven a valuable part of a high-powered UMass offense. Going into a pivotal early-season road tilt against James Madison, Nelson’s 253 yards accounted for more than 82 percent of the team’s ground gain.

“UMass has always been a run-first type team, and I’m honored to be that guy,” he added.

Nelson’s presence in the UMass locker room is a bit of a tale in itself, and one that speaks to the caliber of talent he possesses. Unfortunately, it’s also the tale of just how duplicitous the big-time college recruiting game can be.

Heading into his senior year at Northwest High School in Germantown, Md., Nelson had already verbally committed to Division I Clemson University, where he was to play for coach Tommy Bowden in the nationally-acclaimed Atlantic Coast Conference.

“I really truly thought I’d be going to Clemson,” he said. “Really did.”

With his college choice seemingly made, Nelson took his foot off the college recruitment gas and assumed that he had nothing to worry about.

That could not have been farther from the truth.

With some serious turnover in the Clemson coaching ranks, the phone calls from Clemson to the Nelson family began to wane, until, at last, the school rescinded its scholarship offer – on the basis of academics. In fairness, Nelson had yet to meet the NCAA requirements, but it was by such a small margin that qualifying wasn’t causing him to lose any sleep.

While it certainly isn’t unprecedented for a college to sour on a recruit, the fact that Nelson’s divorce from Clemson came in January of 2005 – just five months before high school graduation – left the standout scatback in the lurch.

“When Clemson dumped me, all the other schools had already filled their scholarships, so I just figured my football career was over,” he said.

And while the whole incident was certainly one that no young man should ever have to endure, it’s safe to say that the UMass football family – and even Nelson himself – is thrilled with the way everything has turned out.

“Coach Brown stepped in and offered me a scholarship, and I thought, ‘Here’s someone who really believes in me. He wants to give me a chance,'” he said.

According to Nelson, the transformation from a dominating high school running back into the football player he is today wasn’t always easy. In fact, he learned from coaches and teammates that physical ability is only a portion of success on the Saturday gridiron.

“I remember when I first started learning about how to pick up blitzes, how completely different it was from what I’d done in high school, because – you know, high school tailbacks don’t block; they get the ball and go,” he said. “It took some time to learn about the proper way to use my hands and footwork, and all that stuff that makes you a good football player.”

Moving forward, Nelson is also keenly aware of the potential he has to post some intimidating career numbers. With another full year of eligibility left after this season, there’s really no telling how far the 21-year-old former Maryland state football champ can drive this train.

Just don’t try to get the humble tailback to project any numbers.

“I never really think about that kind of stuff,” he finished. “I’m just focused on the next game, the next play, and I’m going to run hard every chance I get. Hopefully, if we keep on winning, the numbers will come.”


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