Saturday, April 30, 2011

Gates Taking His Talents to South Beach!

With the 14th pick in the 4th round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected ACU All-America wide receiver Edmond Gates. He was the 111th player taken overall and the first taken who didn't play NCAA Division I.

Moments before Miami made its selection, Gates got a call from Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland - himself an Abilene native and Cooper High School graduate - who asked Gates if he was healthy (Gates confirmed he was) and told him to look at the TV screen. That's when it became official.

It completes a life-changing six months in Gates' amazing life. Last October, he was reunited with his father, who completed an 18-year sentence for murder, for the first time since he was six years old. Now, the Vernon, Texas, native who came to ACU in hopes of walking on the basketball team and because his cousins Bernard Scott and Shaylom Richardson and junior college friends Johnny Knox and Courtney Lane had been recruited to play football for the Wildcats is in the NFL.

I asked Edmond what he was feeling. He kept saying "blessed" and wanted to make sure he gave God any glory that might otherwise come his way.

Ireland had been vocal about wanting to draft speed, and Gates certainly has that to spare, having run the fastest time by a wide receiver at the NFL Combine - despite having an injured groin. He's expected to get a great opportunity to return kicks, which he did at ACU in his first two seasons.

Gates joins a Dolphins team that went 7-9 last season and struggled to find healthy and productive quarterbacks. Chad Henne started 14 games, throwing for 15 TDs and 19 interceptions. Chad Pennington and Tyler Thigpen also started a regular season game. The Dolphins didn't use their early picks in the draft on a quarterback, suggesting that Henne will go into training camp this summer as the starter.

Miami had one 1,000-yard receiver in Brandon Marshall, who led the team with 86 catches. Davone Bess was next with 79 receptions. The Dolphins said they wanted a receiver in this draft, and Gates is their man.

Here's some information on Gates on the Dolphins' website.

And here's something to be thankful for: assuming there is indeed an NFL season, Gates will return to Texas on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, when Miami visits Dallas at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Draft Resumes

Round 4 of the 2011 NFL Draft is now underway with Carolina on the clock with the 1st pick.

Edmond Gates should go early today. There's a chance his teammates Trevis Turner (OL) and Raymond Radway (WR) could have their names called toward the end of the draft, as well.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Another Round

The 2nd and 3rd rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft have come and gone and ACU's Edmond Gates, projected as high as a late 2nd round pick, is still on the board. Four more wide receivers were selected in the 3rd round, upping the total for all three rounds to 11.

Gates told me he "can't explain" the feeling of waiting to hear his name called. I asked if the feeling was good? Bad? Nervous? He answered "good nervous."

That's how a lot of us who've followed him and cheered him on the last four years feel.

The 4th round begins Saturday at noon EDT. 

3rd Round Update

The 3rd-7th rounds of the draft move quickly. Just five minutes for each team to make its selection, instead of the 10 allotted in the 1st round and seven in the 2nd.

No receivers taken yet in round 3. And still no Division II players taken. Just one, in fact, has been selected that didn't play in Division I-A: Ben Ijalana from Villanova who went to the Colts.

Cowboys Up?

Gates said the two team visits he enjoyed the most were the Jets and Cowboys. Dallas is on the clock in the 3rd round.

Two Down

The 2nd round of the draft ended with a receiver being taken by the defending world champion Green Bay Packers. But not Edmond Gates.

The Pack went with Kentucky's Randall Cobb. In all, four wide receivers were taken in the 2nd round, meaning seven have now been selected overall.

The Carolina Panthers, who took Auburn's Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton with the 1st pick in the draft, are on the clock to begin round 3.

Quoth the Raven...Torrey Smith

Some speculated the Baltimore Ravens - whose running backs coach is ACU's all-time touchdown leader, Wilbert Montgomery - might take Gates late in the 2nd. But they just selected Maryland WR Torrey Smith.

Sleepless in Seattle?

One of Gates' recent visits was to Seattle - which is currently on the clock in the 2nd round. Gates met with head coach Pete Carroll and the rest of the Seahawks' coaching staff and front office. Said he enjoyed the visit...and that it didn't rain.

Second Round Winding Down

The Bears just took Stephen Paea from Oregon State with the No. 21 pick of the 2nd round. It would be almost incalculably unlikely that Chicago would take a third player from ACU in the last six drafts.

The Eagles just took safety Jaiquawn Jarrett from Temple. Gates told me several weeks ago that purely on preference, he'd love to play in Philly. There's not a defensive coordinator alive that wants to see a receiving corps of speedsters DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Gates. Not sure you actually could see them.

Gut on Gates

McElroy says he's not sure where or when Gates will go - except that it will happen sometime today, meaning the 2nd or 3rd round. Said his gut feeling is that he'll go in round 3.

Part of the Dalton Gang

Bernard Scott might soon be catches out of the Bengals' backfield from Andy Dalton. The former TCU QB, the winningest in Horned Frogs history, was drafted early in the 2nd round by Cincinnati. Incumbent Carson Palmer is threatening to retire if he's not traded.

Dalton and Edmond Gates are repped by the same agent, ex-Raiders safety Vann McElroy, whose son, V.J., played for ACU in 2009. McElroy didn't offer much commentary on Dalton going to the Bengals, saying only, "Happy he went."

The Cincinnati franchise is notorious for pinching pennies.

Inside the Gates

The 2nd round of the draft is underway. Edmond Gates is surrounded by friends and family at a cousin's house in Dallas where he's watching the ESPN coverage, waiting to find out which team will make him the latest ACU player to reach the NFL.

I asked him how many are there. He said, "A lot."

It's the same cousin's house where they all gathered two years ago when another cousin, Bernard Scott, was taken in the 6th round by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Inside the Gates

The second round of the draft is underway. Edmond Gates is surrounded by friends and family at a cousin's house in Dallas where he's watching the ESPN coverage, waiting to find out where he'll play football professionally. I asked him how many are there. He said, "A lot."

It's the same cousin's house where they all gathered two years ago when another cousin, Bernard Scott, was taken in the 6th round by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Big Day

With apologies to William and Kate, my focus today is on whether some NFL GM will say "I do" when asked if he wants to draft Edmond Gates or leave him at the altar for another day.

The 2011 NFL Draft began Thursday night with Carolina taking Auburn's Cam Newton. It's the 11th time in the last 14 years a quarterback has been the No. 1 overall pick. Like Gates' cousin, Bernard Scott, Newton's road to the NFL went through Brenham, Texas, and Blinn College. Both Scott (2006) and Newton (2009) led Blinn to NJCAA national championships before moving on to ACU and Auburn, respectively, where each won his NCAA division's national player of the year trophy.

The 2nd and 3rd rounds of the draft are scheduled for tonight, beginning at 6 p.m. EDT. Rounds 4-7 are tomorrow, beginning at noon EDT.

Three wide receivers were taken in the 1st round: Georgia's A.J. Green (Bengals at No. 4), Alabama's Julio Jones (Falcons at No. 6) and Pittsburgh's Jonathan Baldwin (Chiefs at No. 26).

Gates is rated by as the 7th best receiver still available. Various draft specialists project him to go as high as late in the second round. Most believe his name will be called before night's end.

Meaning if you're tired from waking up at 4 a.m. this morning to watch the royal wedding, you can sleep in tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Gates Wide Open

Former Abilene Christian University All-America wide receiver Edmond "Clyde" Gates is projected to be taken as high as the second round of this weekend's NFL Draft. Not bad for a guy who came to ACU hoping to play basketball.

Here's my profile of his amazing journey from the wrong side of the tracks to sports' biggest stage.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ACU well-represented at the Masters

The best golfers in the world are in Augusta, Ga., this week preparing for the year's first major at the Masters, and as usual ACU graduates are right in the middle of the action.

Play begins at Augusta National early Thursday morning, and you can hear the Voice of the Wildcats and ACU alumni relations officer Grant Boone ('91) anchoring Masters coverage online here.  Grant will provide hole-by-hole coverage of Featured Group 2 from Thursday-Sunday, along with his partner, former PGA Tour pro Scott McCarron.

Also in Augusta this week are Lance Barrow ('77) and Doug Ferguson ('83).  Barrow, of course, is the coordinating producer for CBS Sports and will be calling the shots from the production truck for the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday.  Ferguson is the longtime Associated Press golf writer and will be stalking the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Steve Stricker throughout the week.

So, make sure this weekend when you sit down to watch the final couple of rounds – or, if you're like me: when you turn on the TV in your office on Thursday – remember to send out a cheer for the three ACU guys playing a big part in the Masters ... without actually playing in the Masters.