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We at Sportsforce would like to congratulate Tyler Kleva on his commitment to Trine University. Here is Tyler’s recruiting story and interview after his commitment. Good luck as a Thunder!

Tyler Kleva

1. Share your recruiting story and status.

The recruiting process was long and a little stressful. SportForce was instrumental in guiding me through the process.  Once the initial campaign was put into action, I started receiving email replies from college coaches immediately. I received many emails from different schools, most of them inviting me to camps or their showcases. It was tough to decide which camps to attend and which camps were just moneymakers for the baseball programs. It wasn’t possible to attend them all, so I just decided to attend the ones that were near home or the schools I was really interested in attending. When I first started this process, I really had no idea what to expect and was just hoping to find the right fit to continue my education and athletic career. The process ended when I committed to Trine University on February 16, 2017.

2. What school are you going to, and why did you choose them?

I am going to Trine University in Angola, IN, because it best fits my criteria of location, size, academics and baseball. I feel it is the best fit for me. The baseball coach played a roll in my decision as well.  He came to watch me play several times, called to check on me, and basically showed a genuine interest in me.  I could tell he was recruiting me for baseball, but more importantly, he was recruiting me as a person. We developed a very good relationship during this process and this was a big part of my decision to attend Trine University.

3. How did SportsForce help in the process?

SportsForce helped me with this process in many ways: from initial contact, through my commitment, SportsForce was sitting alongside guiding me through every step.  The online tutorials were helpful with shooting video and developing the recruiting profile. Helping us contact college coaches was key for the initial communication process, then it was up to me to follow up with the schools that expressed interest in me. SportsForce has developed the system for student-athlete recruitment; one just needs to follow the system for success.

4. What advice would you give to other players and parents with the recruiting process (ex. start early, get a highlight video)?

I recommend to future clients of SportsForce, to start the process early in their freshman, sophomore or junior year of high school.  For some, the process can start early, at least identifying some schools of interest. I would also recommend staying calm throughout the process and having realistic expectations.  Not every athlete is DI caliber. Find a school that best fits your needs and then worry about the athletic portion. The recruitment process is a marathon, not a sprint.  Enjoy the process, visit schools, communicate with the coaches and find what is best for you – don’t worry about what offers teammates may be getting or what they are doing.  Do what’s best for you!

5. How excited are you on your future in college?

I am very excited to be continuing both my athletic and academic career at Trine University. It’s been a goal of mine for several years to play baseball in college. I am very relieved that I have found a school that fits my needs for a college. I very much look forward to beginning the next charter in my life and the next 4 years at Trine University.

6. Would you recommend SportsForce to any other student-athletes? Why?
I would recommend SportsForce to everyone wanting to play a sport in college. It’s a very easy process that gets you maximum exposure easily and quickly. Consider SportsForce your first ever-personal manager. They will assist you in every step of the process, from creation of a profile, your recruiting video, email and phone help…. Everything is included to make the recruiting process enjoyable.  I couldn’t imagine trying to do this all on my own.  I owe a lot to SportsForce for achieving my goal of playing college baseball.

Over the last five years SportsForce has helped over 1,000 student-athletes and families successfully navigate the college recruiting and athletic scholarship process while saving families on average $50,000 in college expenses.

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We at SportsForce would like to congratulate Joel Brown on his commitment to Chapman University! Here are Joel’s recruiting story and interview after his commitment. Good luck as a Panther!

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1. Share your recruiting story and status

I wasn’t up to speed with the recruiting process until the middle of my junior year. My dream has always been to play baseball at the collegiate level and to stand out on teams I play on. When I started playing with Trosky Baseball in the summer entering my senior year I began to realize how behind I was in the recruiting process when I realized the majority of my teammates were committed already. The reality of my current position in the recruiting process didn’t come easily to me because I had the mentality that I had to go to a D1 school. With the advice and knowledge passed on from Coach Ryan Thompson, I was able to sign on with SportsForce and dive into the recruiting process head on. We did research and selected at least fifty different schools that fit my interests. After my first email campaign, I was amazed at how many schools/coaches were interested in me and how many positive responses I received. I followed the instructions I received from SportsForce and created dialogues with numerous coaches. Eventually, I was able to showcase my skills in front of many of these coaches at tournaments and showcases. After the first month or two, I received my first offer and soon after I received 3 more. None of these schools were D1 colleges, but it didn’t seem to matter anymore. I realized the most important thing was a good education followed by a great degree. I found a school with a perfect social fit, location and baseball program. I am confident that I will be able to stand out and be an impact player in their program. I am thrilled that I committed before my senior season started because it is extremely stressful not knowing where you are going after your senior year. I am now able to completely focus on my last year of high school baseball and just have fun.

2. What school are you going to, and why did you choose them?

I will be attending Chapman University. I chose Chapman because of a handful of reasons. I like that it is a medium size student body so I won’t have to walk around campus and see the same faces every day. It is located an hour away from where I live in Southern California so my family and friends can come watch me play whenever they want, and it’s a ten-minute drive to the beach. Chapman offers a fantastic education and a variety of different degrees. The baseball program is a top D3 program where I know I will be able to excel and be coached by experienced coaches who know how to coach a championship team.

3. How did SportsForce help in the process?

SportsForce started off helping me by giving me the truth to the reality of recruiting. We then identified schools that would be the right fit for me academically and athletically. SportsForce did an amazing job at helping me create custom emails to send to coaches. SportsForce has a great staff that includes guys who were pro athletes and collegiate coaches so they know what specifically should and shouldn’t be said in an email. SportsForce also really helped in the dialogue process with coaches. When I didn’t know how to reply to a coach, I was always able to ask for help and I would always receive an immediate response.

4. What advice would you give to other players and parents with the recruiting process?

I would say to start off with a quality highlight video that includes batting and your position. Create dialogues with coaches as early as your sophomore and even freshman year because it is never too early to start. Don’t be afraid to call coaches and ask them where you currently stand with them in their recruiting process and how you can proceed with them. Understand the realities of recruiting and keep an open mind to any division of a school because you may fit a lot better in a school you may never think you would go to. Go somewhere where you know you can play and not sit on the bench for 2 or 3 years.

5. How excited are you for your future in college?

I couldn’t be more excited to go to Chapman. The reality of my commitment hasn’t even set in yet. It still feels unreal. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to commit there. I found a college where I will be happy for the next 4 years.

6. How much money do you anticipate your family saving in college expenses because of you being recruited? 

D3 schools don’t offer athletic scholarships, but I received a 40,000 dollar grant and the coach is helping me find other ways I can save money. On top of the 40,000, I expect to save double that.

7. Would you recommend SportsForce to any other student-athletes? Why?

I would recommend SportsForce to any other athlete because recruiting today is entirely different than it was 10 years ago. You can’t just be a star athlete on your high school team or have a good weekend at a tournament and receive a college scholarship. You have to go out of your way and contact as many schools as possible and SportsForce makes sure you are able to successfully do this. They helped me receive opportunities I wouldn’t have been able to receive on my own. SportsForce is the way to go if you are serious about playing college athletics.

Over the last five years, SportsForce has helped over 1,000 student-athletes and families successfully navigate the college recruiting and athletic scholarship process while saving families on average $50,000 in college expenses.

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We at SportsForce would like to congratulate Reed LaBar on his commitment to CSU San Marcos. Here are Reed’s recruiting story and interview after he committed. Good luck as a Cougar!

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1. What school are you going to, and why did you choose them?
CSU San Marcos –  I liked that they are in process of becoming a D2 school in 2017 and are aggressively recruiting a solid incoming group of baseball players who will be competitive.  I wanted a California school and feel like I will get to play and not sit on a bench at CSUSM. I committed November of my senior year. Academically, it offers 2 majors I am interested in – Business and pre-physical therapy/kinesiology.
2. How did SportsForce help in the process?
CSUSM  Head Coach Pugh contacted me from one of my Sports Force profile emails asking for more information.  The professional layout of the site is helpful and as coaches want to see a quick video and be able to contact athletes easily.  Coach Pugh set up a time to come watch me play at my high school and then invited me to tour CSU San Marcos.
3. What advice would you give to other players and parents with the recruiting process?
I would definitely recommend starting earlier than you think.  (At least sophomore year)  It is good to get on a school’s radar early. The highlight video is a key as well and keep it updated.  Follow up with your emails.
4. How excited are you for your future in college?
I am still enjoying my senior year at La Costa Canyon HS and can’t wait to play one last season with this team. A lot of us have been together since little league. My team, some goals to accomplish in San Diego before we head off to college. Hopefully a CIF title.
5. How much money do you anticipate your family saving in college expenses because of you being recruited?
I was offered a partial scholarship which was nice and it helps that CSU’s are affordable schools if you live in California.
6. Would you recommend SportsForce to any other student-athletes? Why?
I would highly recommend SportForce as a tool for an athlete to look for a college to play their sport.  The website format is easy to navigate and update on your own. You don’t have to rely on someone else to do it. (But you have to be proactive and use the tools they provide) Andrew was helpful with my initial college lists and made suggestions on adding some. Darrell kept me on track with sending out emails to college when I had upcoming tournaments. Communication was really good. Thanks, SportsForce!
Over the last five years, SportsForce has helped over 1,000 student-athletes and families successfully navigate the college recruiting and athletic scholarship process while saving families on average $50,000 in college expenses.

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Athletics:  Strength, Speed, and Health

Staying in top physical shape is critical to always performing your best on the field and gaining attention from college scouts.  Today’s top college athletes have a combination of speed, strength, and knowledge of the best methods to stay healthy, so developing these attributes early will result in higher levels of success.

Strength training is not just lifting weights for hours in the gym attempting to max out, but improving both explosiveness and muscular endurance.  Muscular power or “explosiveness” is a product of both strength and speed of movement.

The most effective way to increase strength without hurting your speed or flexibility is to complete plyometric exercises, these would include:

  • Lower Body: Squats, Jump Squats, Lunges
  • Upper Body: Push Ups, Medicine Ball Chest Pass

Speed is a crucial component to almost every sport, and getting faster is possible with hard work and discipline.  Flexibility training and regular sprint workouts will help make you quicker as well.  Sprinting during training sessions creates muscle memory which will be activated in game time situations.

A few exercises to increase your speed on the field are:

  • Uphill Sprints the steeper the better!
  • Calf raises try using weights to increase difficulty
  • Running Stairs

It may also be helpful to have a coach look at your form – sometimes even simple changes in your technique can help you get faster.

Health is important to maintain because it will allow for you to perform at your best on the field by taking care of yourself off of the field.  Eating healthy will provide your body with the proper nutrients to perform at the highest level.  Preventing injury is another major factor of health, because if you can’t train or play it is much harder to improve.

Putting the right “fuel” into your body is the foundation of performing on the field, some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • STAY HYDRATED especially while performing strenuous activity
  • Vitamin consumption in the form of fruits and vegetables
  • Protein and Carbohydrate intake to build and fuel muscles

Taking the correct steps to reduce the risk of injury would include:

  • Always wear the appropriate protective equipment (helmet, pads, cleats)
  • Stretching before and after physical activity, as well as on off days
  •  Knowing your body’s limits and how hard to push

 

Have a question or are looking for some potential help?

It all starts with an honest NCAA evaluation by an expert who knows what college recruiters are looking for and where you stand, an evaluation of what level of college is right for you.

Click here to learn about scheduling your NCAA evaluation & consultation

 

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Finding the right college fit can be one of the most difficult tasks in the college recruiting process…

However, once you do, it will be one of the most rewarding decisions you make in your entire life!

You’ll need to consider everything from athletics, academics and location to the financial costs and social atmosphere of each school. All this criteria goes into creating your college target list and what you and your family should consider when making a decision before you even contact a school.

 All these tools are in our College Recruiting Resources Section.

EXAMPLE CASE: Let’s say you’re a student who has a 3.0 GPA and a 1400 SAT score. Those are solid marks, but not in the upper ranks for academics. Likely, that student-athlete and family shouldn’t target Ivy League schools or schools like Stanford or UCLA on the West Coast. Rather, you should do some research and determine what schools are a better fit for you both athletically and academically.

ACADEMICS

There are some great websites like collegeboard.com that can help you determine what schools might be a great fit for you to attend.

Keep in mind if you are being actively recruited, you don’t have to have the same grades that are required for the listed academic requirements for most schools.

ATHLETICS

Athletically, the best thing you can do is to go out and see a college team play, or watch them on TV to see the caliber of play and if you are capable of developing into that caliber an athlete.

Visiting the athletic website for each college is a must as well.

Here you’ll want to look for the following:

– Get an idea of the type of roster they have and what positions are already filled

– See what their depth chart looks like

– Take note of what the backgrounds of the players are. Were they All-League in high school? All-County or All-State?

Remember, it’s great to dream and have a vision for your career, but it’s also important to be realistic and use your time wisely when you’re looking at the college decision and college recruiting process.

You can get started today by getting a personal scouting evaluation – CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED

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Hopefully you have created your college target list.  If you haven’t started your college target list yet, click here to see how to easily get started.

Once you have started your college target list you should really go through all of your schools and start ranking them based on how they score on some important decision factors.  Click here to review the different decision factors you should be using to help you create and rank your college target list.

The next step for managing your college target list is to use the different decision factors and start identifying which category to place each school in: Reach, Target or Safety.  We recommend that each category should have at least 5-10 schools.

In order to determine which category each school falls into, it is important to know which each category really means.  Below we have broken down each category and provided some additional information to help you identify which schools belong in each category:

Reach Schools

Definition: A reach school is a college that you have a chance of getting into, but your test scores, class rank and/or high school grades are a bit on the low side compared to the school’s profile.

These are schools that you just might get into.  These are labeled your dream or reach schools for a reason.  While you may fall short on some of the requirements you could try to make up for it in other areas.

Expect strong competition for your reach schools and make sure to manage your expectations when applying to these schools.  Your odds might not seem great, but you need to make sure you apply to your reach schools.  You definitely won’t get in if you don’t apply!

Target Schools

Definition: A target school is a college that you are pretty likely to get into because your test scores, class rank and/or high school grades fall in line with school’s profile.

These are schools that you should feel pretty confident that you will be accepted to.  Your target schools should be places that you really want to go to.  You should meet all or at least most of the requirements and test scores for these schools.

Be sure to consider multiple factors when reviewing the schools profile.  Your location could play a key role as State schools often favor in-state students.  If you are applying to out-of-state schools, you may need to exceed the requirements.

Safety Schools

Definition: A safety school is a college that you will almost certainly get into because your test scores, class rank and/or high school grades are well above average when you are reviewing the school’s profile.

These schools you should feel the most confident about: You are going to get in! These aren’t your dream schools, but you should have some interest in your safety schools.  You should be on the high end or exceed all of the requirements for these schools.

It’s important to have your safety schools just in case you don’t get into your reach and target schools.  Your safety schools might provide other criteria that is more beneficial for your family (i.e. less expensive than your target and reach schools).  They may also offer a scholarship or other perks that weren’t available at your other target schools.

Additional Advice:

Don’t Forget to do Your Research

•We recommend using a “bottom up” approach while making your college target list.  While determining your reach schools is important, you should first focus on finding the schools that fall under your safety and target criteria.

•Understand your eligibility for admission at a particular school by getting familiar with the school’s admitted student profile.

Be Well Rounded

•While you may fall short on some requirements, you can make up for it other areas.

•Athletics can help lower the requirements in other areas.

•Volunteer Work, extracurricular activities and involvement in school organizations are also other great ways to boost your opportunities

Separating your schools will help you manage your expectations throughout the admissions process.  It will help ensure you set some ambitious goals for yourself, but you also give yourself some back up options as well.

Tell us how your target list and different categories are coming along.  Leave us a comment in the comments section below.

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1.  Why did you decide to sign with Southeastern University?

I choose Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL. because of the location, the Christian environment, and the new coach. When I went to visit the campus it felt like the right place for me. I felt like I could do well in the classroom and on the court too.

2. Describe the excitement you feel about becoming a college student-athlete?

Well, it’s a blessing because I didn’t think any college would offer me a scholarship. I know it will be a lot of work but I’m ready to work, I can’t wait.

3. What advice would you give to other athletes looking to get recruited?

Please, please take advantage of your opportunities, never take anything for granted, always play hard where ever you are playing, you never know who’s watching you. Keep a positive attitude; never play lazy, trust God. Work on your skill set, develop your game always.

4. Who has been the biggest influence in your sports career and why?

My HS coaches and AAU coaches, but mostly my dad. He is a coach and he was always on me to work on my game to get better. If it wasn’t for him, I would not have a scholarship.

5. What would you like to accomplish during your college sports career?

Win a conference championship, national championship, graduate from college and hopefully play professionally overseas or get a job that pays well.

 

Over the last five years SportsForce Recruiting has helped over 1,000 student-athletes and families successfully navigate the college recruiting and athletic scholarship process while saving families on average $50,000 in college expenses.

Learn How We Help Families

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Michael Jordan Slam Dunk Competition

Watching Saturday night’s Slam Dunk competition was like watching a train wreck.  But it wasn’t one of those quick ferocious crashes that are over in a matter of seconds.  No, it was one of those slow-motion Michael Bay-esque train wrecks, that takes about 50 times longer than it should until everyone watching looks at their watch wondering when it’s going to be over so they can move on with their lives.

It’s bad.  I mean really bad.  It’s on par with a really bad Adam Sandler movie, or a really good Rob Schneider movie.  So how did we get here?  When did the NBA’s Slam Dunk competition become as entertaining as a mediocre D-list celebrity?  This thing used to be huge. We’re talking Cindy Crawford in her prime huge.  Even non-NBA fans would tune in to watch the dunk competition.   It wasn’t just a footnote of All-Star weekend; it was the whole damn book.  So let’s take a look at what happened to the once great Slam Dunk competition.

The Players

The Slam Dunk competition used to be THE contest to see some of the best and most athletic players in the NBA showoff their ridiculous skills.  Just look at this list of competitors from past competitions:

Dominique Wilkins, Michael Jordan, David Thompson, George Gervin, Spud Webb, Clyde Drexler, Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, Jason Richardson, Brent Barry

The list goes on and on.  Point being, you wanted to see these guys throw it down as hard as they could.  Dunks were memorable not just because they were spectacular, but because of the players who did them.  Dr. J’s Free Throw Dunk, Jordan’s BETTER Free Throw Dunk, 5’7” Spud Webb’s ridiculous performance, Kobe’s between the legs, Carter’s elbow dunk.   This was pure athleticism at its best, the crowd was raucous, and more importantly it was just plain FUN to watch.   You wanted to see what these guys could do, and how far they could push the limits of a human being dunking a basketball.

Now, the allure is gone; but more importantly the players are gone.  If you didn’t watch this year’s Slam Dunk competition, I’ll give you $1,000 if you can guess all 4 participants.  Lebron James, you say…no.  How bout Dwayne Wade…no.  Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Derek Rose, Carmelo Anthony. Ha, not even close.  Try, Derek Williams, Paul George, Chase Budinger, and Jeremy Evans.  That’s a rookie, two second year players, and Chase Budinger, who probably dunked more times in this competition that he has in his 3-year NBA career.  Yeah, I’ll be hanging on to that $1,000.  How do you even sell tickets around that line-up?  The marketing guy who can promote that should win some kind of award.  Jeremy Evans ended up winning it with some “OK” dunks I guess, but there lies the next problem with the dunk contest.

The Dunks

The dunks just aren’t that impressive anymore.  And it’s not because these guys aren’t athletic or creative, it’s that NOTHING surprises us anymore.  Everything has already been done.  Seriously, think about it.  One of the reasons Wilkins and Jordan and Kobe’s dunks were so memorable was because we hadn’t seen anything like it before.  They had the element of surprise, and being able to do things with a basketball that we had never seen before.  Now, jumping from the free throw line barely draws a response from the crowd.  A Windmill 360 is met with drones; Between the legs…Ho hum, what else you got?  And that’s the problem, there isn’t anything else left.  There are limits to what the human body can do, and unless they bring out the trampolines and let the players do front flips, ala, NBA JAM style, there’s nothing that will draw the kind of awe and amazement from the crowd that the earlier Slam Dunk competitions did.  Unless of course they use some kind of props or rely on over-the-top gimmicks in order to equal the same level of dunkness (I’m christening that word right now) of years past.  Speaking of which…

The Gimmicks

I know what you’re thinking, but the props are so creative.  Aren’t they so entertaining?  Remember last year when Blake Griffin jumped over a car?  Remember when Dwight Howard dunked on two basketball courts? Remember when…just stop, right now.  They’re gimmicks people.  They’re props used to try and create the illusion of something more impressive than it actually is.  Seriously, watch Blake Griffin jump over the car again…watch it.  Now take away the car and what do you have?  A pretty mediocre dunk at best.  Hell, watch Griffin’s top 10 in-game dunks…every single one of those is way more impressive than his jumping over the car dunk.  It’s just a gimmick, and unfortunately that’s what now defines the Slam Dunk competition.  Don’t believe me.  These are some of the things that have been used in the past few years in dunk competitions.  A car, A cupcake, A plastic basketball court, other players to jump over.  This sounds more like a circus act than a dunk contest.  What’s next?  A player gets hit in the face with a pie by a clown before he slams it home.  Is that really better than watching Jordan dunk from the free throw line, or watching Vince Carter do a 360 windmill dunk?  We’re one step away from the Slam Dunk competition turning into NBA’s version of David Letterman’s crazy pet tricks.  Let’s watch as Chase Budinger tries to dunk while throwing his pet Chihuahua throwing a flaming ring of fire.  Participants feel obligated to think of some crazy gimmick in order to entertain the fans and have a chance at winning the dunk contest.  Come out and just attempt a regular old-fashioned amazing dunk…you get booed off the court. Watching Jeremy Evans crotch plowing into the back of Roy Hibbert’s head is the reality of the Slam Dunk competition today.

So David Stern, for the love of all that is holy and great about the NBA, get rid of the Slam Dunk competition before Adam Sandler comes out in drag while Gordon Hayward tries to dunk Rob Schneider into a giant basket of chocolate pudding…actually, check that, cancel the competition after this.

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You may or may not know that the NFL combine is currently taking place in Indy right now.  So as an avid football fan, why should you even care about the combine?  With basketball season in full force, and baseball spring training right around the corner, why should a bunch of college football players participating in drills even register on your sports entertainment radar?  Here’s why:

What happens at the combine DRASTICALLY changes the draft strategies of every single NFL team and player. A mere tenth of a second can mean the difference between a bona-fide top 5 pick to a late 3rd rounder. We’re talking millions of dollars lost and won based on a weekend of workouts; this is the drama, and importance of the NFL Combine.  With that said, let’s check out some key players to look for:

Quinton Coples

Height: 6-6, Weight: 285 lbs. North Carolina defensive end Coples may be one of the best defensive end prospects for the 2012 draft. He has the most at stake, but also a lot to gain. After coming off of an outstanding junior season, he dropped off a bit in his senior season. He is one of the top pass rushers in the draft, but if his performance does not stay consistent, people will continue asking why he didn’t have the great senior season he was expected to have. This will be a huge week for Coples and he needs to perform exceptionally well on the combine stage.

Robert Griffin III (RG3)

Height: 6-2, Weight: 220 lbs. The QB spotlight this year will be on Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. 2011 Heisman Trophy winner, Griffin will likely wait to throw and save his pro day for March 21. In the meantime he’ll be focusing on team interviews, the 40-yard dash, and other drills this week in Indy. He has the speed and agility, like Michael Vick, to move around in the pocket but will need to maintain his strength in order to keep it up. He should be easy to spot working out, wearing those festive socks he loves so dearly.

Janoris Jenkins

Height: 5-10, Weight: 191 lbs. After shining in Florida, then getting dismissed from the Gators for drug-related incidents, Jenkins played his senior season at North Alabama. He was great, and really showed people he has first-round talent. He played well in the Senior Bowl, but must interview well and explain himself at the combine. As long as he shows people his baggage is behind him and he is really trying to mature and focus solely on football, the Detroit Lions may come knocking. They have drafted well over the years and are in need of a cornerback this draft.

Michael Brockers

Height: 6-6, Weight: 306 lbs. We couldn’t forget any LSU players now, could we? Keep an eye out for defensive tackle, Brockers. He is at the top of a talented group of defensive linemen who will be entering the draft. Brockers is a 300-pound monster with cat-like agility, in addition to his strength and mass. He holds a skill-set that virtually no other defensive tackle can match, and if he dominates at the combine, he could find himself in the top 10 draft pick.

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It is very easy to get caught up in training for your sport and day to day activities and not pay much attention to what you are putting into your body.  As a former First Team All-Academic Pac-10 steeplechaser for the UCLA Track & Field Team, I often went through my days without planning meals or giving nutrition much thought at all.  As an athlete, putting in countless hours of training with much at stake, it makes sense to maximize your chances of success in all ethical ways.

It is surprising how clear nutritional science is on the benefits of a core nutrition program in both protecting health and maximizing athletic performance, yet it is something that is so under the radar. I did not receive any training on nutrition at UCLA, and looking back, my running career suffered as a result. The good news is that it is relatively easy to take your health to the next level and some of the benefits that people experience are a stronger immune system, increased energy levels, quicker recover and improved brain function. To that point, when I implemented a core nutrition program a few years ago, I noticed it first in races, where I ran personal bests in the marathon and half marathon at age 31 (and then again as a 32 year old) and had better recovery time than when I was a student at UCLA.

Here are six nutritional tips you can utilize to give yourself the “slight edge” over your competition and feel increased strength and vitality along the way.

1.      Establish the habit of drinking 10 oz purified water first thing in the morning and steadily throughout the day.  Ideally you should shoot for half of your body weight in ounces daily (i.e. if you weigh 150lbs – 75 ounces daily is a great standard).

2.      You’ve heard it your whole life and here it is, the #1 health habit you could ever develop; eat six serving of vegetables daily. Why? They are rich in antioxidants which help to prevent oxidative damage (aging) of your cells.  You should also regularly include three low-sugar members from the fruit category; avocado, tomato and bell pepper.

3.      Consume dark leafy greens, such as spinach, daily. Greens are made of chlorophyll and heal and cleanse your organs while destroying harmful substances. They also promote bodily homeostasis, give you lots of insoluble fiber that rids your body of toxins, and greens are alkaline which promotes healthy cells and improved recovery.

4.      Processed carbohydrates are largely to blame for our countries health woes and MUST be minimized. Fast food, instant everything, enriched bleached flour, chips, bagels and baked goods are marketed to us incessantly and are convenient choices. The problem with these high-glycemic “foods” is that they spike your blood sugar levels, do not provide sustainable energy, and leave you hungry for more when your blood sugar rapidly drops back down.  Focus on a balance of  low-glycemic carbohydrates (such as – whole grains, pasta, greek yogurt, vegetables, fruits), lean sources of protein (organic chicken, grass fed beef, salmon, almonds, vegetables), and healthy fats (fish, avocado, olive oil, nuts)  as a foundation of your diet and you will have more sustainable energy throughout your day.

5.      Take a pharmaceutical grade, absorbable multi-vitamin, everyday, even if your diet is ideal. Quality supplements help to prevent sickness and disease, fill in the gaps in your diet, minimize oxidative (free radical) damage, and enable you to recover more quickly from workouts.

6.      Educate yourself and keep updating your nutritional strategies.  You will find it very empowering to know the benefits of your little bit of extra effort and attention. Some great books on the topic are “The pH Miracle,” “Healthy for Life,” and “The Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements.” Two great DVD’s are “Food, Inc.” and “Super Size Me.”

Incorporating even one of these habits into your daily routine will have a tremendous benefit to you in your athletic endeavors and beyond. Incorporating all of them into your active and athletic lifestyle will put your health above and beyond your peers, enable you to maximize your athletic talents and most importantly, will drastically reduce your chances of developing chronic degenerative disease.

You will find that when your health and energy levels improve, your athletic performance and every other area of your life will improve simultaneously.  Also, the positive influence that you will have for those in your peer group will have an impact greater than you know. So I challenge you, to give yourself the “slight edge” of optimal nutrition and you will reap the benefits immediately and for the rest of your life.

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