Lets be honest folks. The Sun Belt conference is not one of the more highly recognized conferences in the country and for good reason. Many of the teams in this conference struggle year in and year out. The only solid program in this conference are the Troy Trojans. They seem to be competitive every year. Everyone else is just trying to stay afloat. Here are my top returning Sun Belt quarterback’s for the 2011 season:
1. Casey Robinson, So, Troy University, 2010 stats: 321-505 (64%), 3,726 yds, 28 td’s, 15 int’s. Perspective: Robinson had one of the best seasons in the country for a Freshman. Robinson has the arm and accuracy to thread defenses in the passing game and is mobile enough to make plays outside of the pocket. Robinson really has an opportunity to help the Trojans gain some national recognition if he can continue to get better. The Trojans have a history of upsetting good teams on the road. With Robinson at the helm, Troy will have an opportunity to do that right off the bat as they have to travel to Clemson and Arkansas in back to back games to start the season.
2. Ryan Aplin, Jr, Arkansas State, 2010 stats: 250-408 (61%), 2,934 yds, 21 td’s, 11 int’s; 138 car, 477 yds, 11 td. Perspective: Aplin returns to the Red Wolves for his junior season. While Aplin’s numbers have been solid ASU has not done that well as a team. Arkansas State lost several close games last season and looks to finish better in 2011. With an improved Aplin at the helm, ASU may compete for a sun belt title this season.
3. Kolton Browning, So, Louisiana-Monroe, 2010 stats: 234-378 (62%), 2,552 yds, 18 td’s, 12 int’s. Perspective: Browning and the Warhawks look to improve on their 4-4 sun belt record in 2010. They showed signs of being competitive but just not consistently enough to be considered a contender for the conference title. ULM does have some upside with a solid young QB in Browning.
4. Wesley Carroll, Sr, Florida International, 2010 stats: 226-367 (62%), 2,623 yds, 16 td’s, 14 int’s. Perspective: Carroll lead FIU to a solid season in 2011. They went finished with a 6-2 record in the sun belt (2nd place) and played in a bowl game. FIU is definitely a contender for the conference crown in 2011.
5. Kawaun Jakes, Jr, Western Kentucky, 2010 stats: 149-291 (51%), 1,680 yds, 10 td’s, 6 int’s. Perspective: Jakes and the WKU Hilltoppers have a lot to improve on in 2010. They only won 2 games in sun belt play last season. Jakes is now a junior and needs to step up his game if WKU are to be competitive in 2011.
2. Florida International
3. Middle Tennessee
4. Arkansas State
5. Florida Atlantic
8. Western Kentucky
9. North Texas
Olympic Cyclist Kelly Catlin Dead at 23
Olympic track cyclist Kelly Catlin, who competed in the 2016 Rio Janeiro Games, was found dead in her California home this past Friday due to an apparent suicide, according to an announcement from her father, according to Reuters.
“There isn’t a minute that goes by that we don’t think of her and think of the wonderful life she could have lived,” her father, Mark Catlin said, according to VeloNews. “There isn’t a second in which we wouldn’t freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable.”
Catlin, 23, took the silver medal in Rio and was part of the teams who took home the gold in 2016, 2017, and 2018 World Championships.
Catlin had reportedly struggled with mental health in the past and her sister, Christine Catlin, said that Catlin was “a really special person – kind, funny, empathetic, and talented at literally everything she did, per the Washington Post. She just felt like she couldn’t say no to everything that was asked of her and this was her only escape.”
Tom Brady And Pats Play Record 8th AFC Championship Game, Seek 6th Superbowl
A season that most organizations would be happy with, was one of challenge for the Patriots. Usually a top tier team, they suffered bad losses to the Jaguars, Titans and Dolphins. However, in Patriot fashion along a weak AFC East, the Patriots finished 11-5, won a 10th straight conference title and secured a first round bye.
Kansas City will host New England in the AFC Championship game in what is a rematch from week six. That game featured an offensive clinic , As reported by CBS Boston, Brady went 24-35 passing for 340 yards and touchdown in that game; Mahomes went 23-36 passing for 352 yards and four touchdowns. The AFC Championship could very well play out the same way.
The Chiefs will be a tough out, They won their first home playoff game in 25 years last week against the Colts and are riding one of the most prolific offenses in history behind quarterback whisperer Andy Reid and phenome Patrick Mahomes who is arguably the NFLs best young QB.
In what is a David and Goliath matchup, Brady seems to imply they are the underdog. As he told CBS’s Tracy Wolfson, “I know everyone thinks we suck and, you know, cant win games,”. Will the dynasty continue? Or will Reid and Mahomes hoist the Lombardi?
I’m leaning towards the game plan of Bill Belichick and veteran experience of Tom Brady in this one. I think a Patriot/Saints matchup is in order. Either way, it will undoubtedly be one for the ages.
Game Time: Sunday January 20th at 6:40ET/5:40CT on CBS.
An Agency Changing the Sponsorship Game for Athletes
The following is an official press release from Eight Seven Media
Sponsorships and endorsements have changed significantly over the past few years. Historically, we know them as mainstream commercials and endorsements by top apparel and shoe brands with professional athletes and celebrities at the forefront. Until recently, the huge rise of influencer marketing has changed brands perspective and they have gravitated towards using social media stars as their advocates. Influencers are compensated with hundreds of thousands of dollars and brands have turned away from the traditional celebrity or professional athlete. Eight Seven Media is looking to turn that model on its head and bring sponsorship dollars back to professional athletes.
Founded by Dylan Scance and Derek Flodmand, Eight Seven Media creates social media content for professional athletes. Working on the talent buying side, they noticed that brands were only picking talent based on either their audience or their content. When they would pitch athletes to certain brands, they knew they were a perfect fit for the brand from a personality and lifestyle perspective, but the athletes had a tough time getting deals from brands. Aside from the lack of resources these agencies provided, the number one reason was their lack of content. Most athletes understand that having a social media presence is crucial in today’s market, but they don’t necessarily understand exactly how to leverage their channels to their maximum potential.
We’ve outlined Eight Seven’s process below:
Step 1: Identification
Along with a data-backed strategy, their team works hand-in-hand with both the athlete and agent to understand what types of brands they are interested in partnering with.
Step 2: Content Creation
Their team then works directly with the athlete to create rich, bespoke lifestyle social media content, specific to the verticals they have identified. They will meet directly with the athlete to bring this content to life.
Step 3: Amplification
As the athlete pushes out bespoke content via their social channels, their team leverages a specialized software called Social Ads to amplify top-performing content to target audience(s) based on the verticals we have identified. This provides the athlete with increased reach and exposure within the right audience segments- thus increasing their potential value to identified brands.
Step 4: Reporting
Via the Social Ads software, their team provides intuitive reporting on content performance, inclusive of demographic and geographic data which highlights the extended audience that has been exposed to the athlete’s content.
Athletes are a perfect fit for brands for many reasons. They have a highly engaged audience that’s not filled with bot accounts (something that’s been plaguing the influencer industry for years). They are inspirational, motivational, and have overcome many challenges and hardships in life that inspire generations of fans. They are the perfect example of a true “influencer”, but they are still getting overlooked for sponsorship deals.
Eight Seven Media also offers their “Athlete Incubator”, a service where they work with newly signed athletes that are being developed by agents and teams and completely rebrand their social channels out of college. These athletes go through a 12-month process with Eight Seven where they advise them on best practices for their social channels, how to create and leverage high-quality content on their own, what brands look for from a social media perspective, and how to engage with their audience. Along with content creation, Eight Seven Media provides its clients with an analysis of how well their athletes social channels are performing.
The content being created is leveraged by agents when they’re pitching an athlete for sponsorships or endorsements. With the huge rise in lifestyle and fashion brands, non-traditional endorsements are something that’s taking the industry by storm. Kyle Kuzma signing with the GOAT app is a perfect example of how optimizing your content to fit the brands you want to work with pays off in the long-term. Brands not only want to partner with athletes that they can trust to produce high-quality content, but they want to ensure that this can be pushed out to their brands owned and operated social channels by repurposing these assets.
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