SPORT NOTES: MSJC’s Jordan lands at Utah, Jones heads for Lobos … MSJC golfer gets shot at Longwood Univ. … Pritchett ranks in top 10 in Top Fuel … Derron Smith football camp Saturday, attracts Darqueze Dennard.
College football’s Jim Thorpe Award winner, Darqueze Dennard, will be part of the second annual Derron Smith Football Camp this weekend.
This year’s July 14 camp will host 350 players, Smith has said, who will battle for a spot on this year’s Cleveland Browns’ roster for the 2018 season. He’s headed into his fourth NFL season after being drafted by Cincinnati in 2015.
From all outward appearances, last year’s inaugural camp was successful.
Besides Smith, there were a handful of other NFL players, alongside a few past collegiate players.
The camp, which will be held at Banning High School, will be held from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (check-in from 8-8:45 a.m.) A mandatory on-line registration (derronsmithnfl.com) must take place for the free camp.
Last year’s camp was filled to its 250-player capacity. The key, said organizers, was to register early.
The clinic will include a series of football drills with NFL players and coaches, plus some mock 7-on-7 (no blockers) drill.
Detroit Lions’ cornerback Charles Washington is set for a return so far this year. Cincinnati’s Darqueze Dennard, a former teammate of Smith with the Bengals, is another NFL player headed for the clinic. There may be other NFL players.
Dennard, while playing for Michigan State, was named the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in college football. He was a first round draft pick by Cincinnati in the 2014 NFL draft.
There will be a breakfast bar, lunch, plus a gift bag and an autograph session after the clinic. Among the gifts were items provided by the Browns in support of Smith’s camp.
Currently, Smith is playing in organized team activities in Cleveland.
Two years ago, Smith appeared at a camp hosted by former Banning High coach John Stockham, who was Smith’s coach from 2007-2009.
So far, five players off last year’s Mt. San Jacinto College squad have committed to NCAA Division 1 programs.
Sheriron Jones, who played quarterback at Moreno Valley Rancho Verde in 2014, is headed for the Univ. New Mexico.
His top offensive threats — wide receiver Kefa Cort and running back Jomari Becnal — are also committing.
Cort is headed for Tusculum (Tenn.) University while Becnal was picked up by Southeastern Louisiana.
Defensive tackle Jeremiah Jordan has already attended spring workouts at his next stop, University of Utah.
Cornerback Tyler Freeman has landed at Stephen F. Austin (Texas) College.
The Eagles, coming off a 5-5 season, produced plenty of fireworks on offense.
Jones hit on 208 completions for over 2,100 yards (17 TD, 14 interceptions) while rushing for 345 yards (5 TDs).
Becnal, MSJ’s top rushing threat, racked up 841 yards (10 TD).
Cort caught 55 passes (5 TD) for 644 yards, tops among MSJC’s receiving core.
Jordan, who had 45 tackles, 4-½ quarterback sacks and a dozen hits for lost yardage, was a key part of MSJ’s rushing defense.
Freeman, who did not have an interception, forced three fumbles, recovered two, had a quarterback sack and broke up three passes.
Jones, a first-team All-Conference pick, is headed for a Lobos’ team that finished 9-4 two seasons back (3-9 last year), capping their season with a 23-20 win over Texas-San Antonio in the New Mexico Bowl.
Playing in the Mountain West Conference with the likes of Boise State, Fresno State, Air Force and San Diego State, among others, Jones was a key figure at Rancho Verde, a team that finished 10-3 after losing to area rival Perris Citrus Hill, 35-33, in the division semifinals.
One season later, Jeff Steinberg, now at Beaumont, was hired to coach the Mustangs.
Jordan, another first-team All-Conference player, showed up at MSJC from Stone Mountain, Ga., turning his two seasons into a shot at Pac-12 Conference member Utah.
Fourteen-year veteran Kyle Whittingham replaced legendary Urban Meyer as Utes’ coach in 2005. Utah has been a consistently strong contender in the Pac-12.
Plenty of Utes have wound up in the NFL, including Kylie Fitts, a defensive end from nearby Redlands East Valley High School who was drafted by Chicago last spring.
Utah, coming off a 7-6 record, opens the 2018 season against nearby Weber State on Aug. 30, playing in Pasadena’s Rose Bowl against UCLA on Friday night, Oct. 26.
Freeman, who prepped at nearby Hemet West Valley, landed in the same Southland Conference as Becnal, who racked up 1,076 all-purpose yards, averaging 5.5 yards a carry during his two-year MSJC career.
It took a near 330-mph burst by Blake Alexander to knock out former Cherry Valley resident Leah Pritchett in the semifinals at the June 21-24 Summit Racing NHRA Nationals in Ohio.
In all-out drag racing warfare in the Top Fuel category.
Pritchett, who was No. 1 seeded in last weekend’s New England Nationals, had beaten Doug Kalitta with a 328-mph burst in the opening round, following that up with a 327-mph effort to knock off top-seeded Clay Millican in the next round.
Alexander went on to beat Terry McMillen in the Top Fuel finals.
In losing to Alexander in the semifinals, Pritchett sputtered to a 254-mph, her reaction time at a relatively slow 4.185-second effort.
In the New England Nationals one week later, Pritchett ran into Antron Brown in the semifinals, who bested the onetime Cherry Valley resident with a 315-mph to her 304-mph. Brown wound up losing to series leader Steve Torrence in the finals.
Pritchett, who beat Audrey Worm in the opening round and Kalitta in the second round, is fifth in this season’s standings, trailing Torrence by 228 points.
Mt. San Jacinto College’s Kieran Blundell, who took seventh in the State junior college championships, committed to Longwood (Va.) University last month, continuing his education at an NCAA Division 1 school.
Blundell, who shot 148 over 36 holes at State, is a two-time qualifier for the California Community College Athletic Association championships.
The Birmingham, England native shot 74.1 average over 18 holes, second best in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference. He was All-PCAC in both years at MSJC.
The Eagles were 66-33 over his two-year career.
Individually, Blundell finished in the top six at the Southern California Regional Tournament in both his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Longwood University, located in Farmville, Va., is part of the Big South Conference that includes such schools Liberty (Va.), Campbell (N.C.), High Point (N.C.), Gardner-Webb (N.C.), Charleston Southern (S.C.), Radford (Va.), Winthrop (S.C.) and Presbyterian (S.C.).
Longwood’s Lancers did not place a single golfer in the top 10 at last year’s Big South Conference championships, won by Liberty.
Among the courses Longwood plays on its schedule includes legendary Pinehurst Country Club, which has hosted such events as the U.S. Open, U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and other top-flight events.