ESPN NFL Draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay were taking a look at the 2014 wide receiver and tight end class and Kiper Jr. chose Pittsburg State receiver John Brown as his "under the radar" pick.
"You think about it, Division II player who can fly," Kiper said, "and who also is very versatile. He returns punts, kickoffs, this kid is a touchdown waiting to happen in a variety of ways. You get him in the late portion of the draft, sixth-seventh round, you've got yourself a kid that's going to help your football team."
"I like that. Small school guy," McShay said.
NFLDraftScout.com has Brown ranked 30th at wide receiver and 230th overall, projected a sixth-seventh round selection.
In the blog of NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt, titled "John Brown of Pittsburg State brings NFL intrigue," the former VP of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960-1989 concluded, "Brown — because of his speed and ability to run back punts — is one of these type of prospects that an NFL team will take a chance on in the later rounds if they have an extra selection."
Seven different NFL teams had representatives at last week's Pro Day at Pitt State, including a New Orleans Saints wide receivers coach and Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts special teams coaches.
Brown's stock began rising at East-West Shrine Game practices and only accelerated at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, when he recorded the third-fastest overall 40-yard dash time of 4.34 seconds.
"At the combine, it was a great experience, being around some of the top players in the whole division of college football," Brown said in the Pitt State media room. "I stepped up to the plate and I think I competed well and better than a lot of them. It wasn't no need for me to run the 40 (at his Pro Day) or anything because I had one of the best 40s at the combine. I prepared for it well and I dominated.
"Today, it went really good. I've been preparing before the combine and even after the combine, so I felt like it was great. I knew what they were going to throw at me and I think I did pretty good. It's a great feeling, like a dream come true. It's just that I've been showing them on film what I can do and then it's just they come and see me work out in person, I think I did the same thing."
Brown's represented by his agent Dave Butz, the son of the former 16-year NFL defensive lineman, also Dave Butz, who played for the St. Louis Cardinals (1973-74) and the Washington Redskins (1975-88).
INDEPENDENCE — Pittsburg tennis began its season by making a racket at the Independence Invitational on Tuesday, rolling through competition 16-0, perfect in No. 1 singles, No. 2 singles, No. 1 doubles and No. 2 doubles.
Veteran head coach John Seal called it "a milestone," including winning every match against traditional powerhouse Independence on the Bulldogs' home court.
"We really played well," Seal said. "This is one of the best teams I've ever coached and I've coached a lot of good teams. They're real good. We're really proud of these guys. They work so hard."
Pittsburg returned five of its school record six state qualifiers from last season, all except the graduated Jake Creech.
On Tuesday, Seal played Logan Benham at No. 1 singles, Adrian McAfee at No. 2, Micah Hashman-Nick Powers at No. 1 doubles and Hank Cloninger-Josh Dial at No. 2. Seal said that he will use both Benham and McAfee at No. 1, interchangeable high-quality players.
Against Independence, Benham won 8-7 (7-1 tiebreaker), McAfee 8-2, Hashman-Powers 8-7 (7-4) and Cloninger-Dial 8-1.
Those two 8-7 matches were the only challenges of the night: Hashman-Powers were pushed to 8-4 by Iola but the rest of the scores were 8-0, 8-1, 8-2 and 8-3.
Benham, McAfee, Hashman, Powers and Cloninger are the returning qualifiers.
Pittsburg won the tourney with 16 points, Independence took second with 12, Iola third with six, Chanute fourth with five and Fort Scott fifth with one.
ARMA — The Northeast Vikings baseball and softball teams opened their seasons in style Wednesday at their invitational tournament.
Northeast senior Josh Rose will always remember the first game of his senior season, tossing a no-hitter in a 16-1 win over St. Paul.
Joey McDowell and Dennis Hensley each collected three hits for the Vikings, McDowell in three at-bats, Hensley four.
Liberal defeated Chetopa 14-1 in the other semifinal game.
The Northeast-Liberal championship game was rained out and will be made up at a later date, and Chetopa defeated St. Paul 10-0 in the third place game.
Northeast softball rocked and rolled during its season opener, collecting its 26 runs on just nine hits in 26-0 three-inning run-rule victory over St. Paul.
Freshman pitcher Kelsea Choate surrendered only three hits in the circle, on average one hit per inning, and fellow freshmen Haley Robinson and Autumn Walker had two hits apiece. Choate struck out four Indians.
In the run production department, Walker led the way with four RBI, Amber DeMaranville added three, Choate, Kamryn Osborn and Jaycie Polhlopek two apiece. The Vikings scored 19 runs alone in the second inning.
Liberal defeated Chetopa 14-4 in the second semifinal.
Chetopa run-ruled St. Paul 22-7 for third place, while Liberal was ahead of Northeast 6-1 in the bottom of the fourth of the championship game before the rains came and forced a makeup game.
EVANSVILLE, Ind. — The last Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association team standing, the Central Missouri Mules, advanced to the Final Four with a 98-88 win Wednesday over Southern Connecticut at the Ford Center.
The Mules shot the ball well, real well — 33-65 (50.8 percent) from the field, 8-20 (40 percent) from deep and 24-29 (82.8 percent) at the line. That field goal percentage jumped in the second half to 63.3 from 40 in the first half — Central Missouri made 19-30 after halftime.
Daylen Robinson led the Mules with 28 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals in 37 minutes, including going 11-12 from the stripe. Dillon Deck recorded a double-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals. Charles Hammork added 18 points and eight rebounds, Jon Gilliam 11 points and T.J. White 11 points in just 13 minutes.
Michael Mallory led Southern Connecticut with 22 points, while Tylon Smith had 20 points, five rebounds, seven assists and one steal, Greg Langston 19 points on 10-10 at the line and Deshawn Murphy 16 points and nine rebounds.
Central Missouri improved to 28-5 and dropped Southern Connecticut to 30-3. The Mules have won four straight games since a MIAA Tournament loss to Northeastern State, 84-82, in Kansas City, Mo.
Central Missouri will now face the Metro State Roadrunners (32-1) on Thursday.
West Liberty knocked off defending national champions Drury, 74-62.