Age in Footrace with CB Newman
A Tuesday notes column including a former teammate’s perspective on ageless Terence Newman, and speculation about who the state’s most coveted 2019 prep football recruit will choose for college tonight.
That was no golden parachute the Vikings gave the 39-year-old cornerback Newman by re-signing him. He started seven of 16 regular season games last year, and could even be a regular again.
“Oh, for sure,” said Ben Leber. “There’s definitely a little bit of a step that he’s lost, but he’s still better than 80 percent of the rookies and the young guys out there.”
Leber, the retired Vikings’ linebacker who provides analysis during team radio broadcasts, played with Newman at Kansas State where the former Wildcat was also a track star. Leber estimates his former teammate still has “90 percent” of his top football speed.
Newman’s 15 years of experience allows him to mentor other defensive backs, and to use his knowledge most effectively for his own benefit. “His mind is invaluable as far as leadership…(he also) puts himself in the right position,” Leber said. “You watch the way he plays the game now. He’s so precise with his angles. He knows exactly where the receivers are going to end up.”
Newman is returning for his fourth season with Minnesota. He has the most career interceptions (42) among active NFL players and is the oldest active defensive player in the league. He has participated in 47 games with the Vikings, making 33 starts.
It wouldn’t surprise Leber if the Vikings and Newman agree on another contract a year from now. He describes Newman as “a machine,” while acknowledging people may kid the veteran about playing at such an advanced age.
“If you’re 39 going on 40 and you still have sweet hips like he does, no, you’re not old,” Leber said. “It’s fun to rib him about it because it just doesn’t happen in our league. But he’s definitely put himself in position to earn that, keep doing it and to keep collecting checks—and to keep chasing that (first Super Bowl) championship.”
Sounds like Edina’s Quinn Carroll will announce Notre Dame as his college choice tonight on KARE 11. The offensive tackle is among the most sought after prep players in the country for the class of 2019 and he has shown considerable interest in the Golden Gophers, but I will be surprised if Carroll doesn’t verbally commit to the Fighting Irish during the 10 p.m. newscast of the Minneapolis NBC affiliate.
“I would be absolutely flabbergasted if it’s not the Notre Dame Fighting Irish,” said Ryan Burns of GopherIllustrated.com. “They’ve been the consensus favorite here for many months.”
Burns believes Notre Dame’s football prestige and the Catholic focus of the school favors an ultimate commitment for the Irish. “It also doesn’t hurt that Notre Dame just had two offensive linemen go in the top nine picks of the NFL Draft, while Minnesota hasn’t had an offensive lineman drafted since 2006,” Burns said.
Carroll’s dad, Jay, was a tight end for the Gophers and named the team’s Outstanding Offensive Player in 1983. Burns estimates the younger Carroll has visited the Minnesota campus more than 10 times since Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck was hired in January of 2017. “It’s not every day you see a guy keep coming back to campus…and not end up choosing the University of Minnesota,” Burns said about so many unofficial visits.
Burns predicts the Gophers will finish as Carroll’s No. 2 choice. As of late the Gophers have been “bridesmaids” on high profile recruits including Council Bluffs, Iowa quarterback Max Duggan who chose TCU.
Fleck received good news recently when the NCAA granted medical redshirts to two of his more promising young players. Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and wide receiver Demetrius Douglas, both 19, have been given additional eligibility following injuries last season. Winfield will be a redshirt sophomore next season, and Douglas a redshirt freshman.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said at Sunday’s Minnesota Football Honors Awards that coach Mike Zimmer wanted to use the team’s first round draft choice on an offensive tackle but Spielman and the scouting department opted for cornerback Mike Hughes.
Jake Wieneke, the free agent wide receiver from Maple Grove signed after the NFL Draft by the Vikings, prompts comparisons with Adam Thielen but Wieneke had a much more impressive college career. Wieneke was named to All-America teams all four seasons at South Dakota State and is the Missouri Valley Conference’s all-time leader in career receptions and receiving yards. Detroit Lakes native Thielen, who was signed as a free agent by the Vikings in 2013, has become one of the NFL’s better wide receivers but in college at Minnesota State his highest honor was being named All-Northern Sun Conference South Division as a senior.
A source close to the Wild told Sports Headliners there probably isn’t anyone within the organization that will fit the candidate pool to possibly become owner Craig Leipold’s next general manager.
Former North Star and ex-Tampa Bay GM Brian Lawton is interested in the position. He said on WCCO Radio’s “Sports Huddle” on Sunday that he has spoken with Leipold.
Former Sharks and Kings executive Dean Lombardi, with ties to the old North Stars, might be another name to follow.
While Wild GM Chuck Fletcher was let go last week, it appears head coach Bruce Boudreau will return for a third season. No NHL coaches were fired during the regular season for the first time since the 1960s.
Kevin Gorg, the Fox Sports North reporter on Wild and Twins games, will be sharing his wagering expertise again this year at Canterbury Park which opens for live racing Friday. He’s sold a $2 tip sheet at the Shakopee racetrack for years.
Not a good start for new Twins pitching coach Garvin Alston whose staff has an American League second worst ERA of 5.29. Dating back to last Friday’s first game of the homestand, the Twins have given up 30 runs in four games.
The inaugural Cretin-Derham Hall Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet will be May 17 at the University of St. Thomas. Matt Birk, Joe Mauer and Chris Weinke are among those who will be inducted.
Early birthday wishes: Lynx point guard and Gopher women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen turns 36 on May 9.