Tag Archives: 2019 East-West Shrine Game

Wise beyond his years

DraftNasty's Corey Chavous sat down with former Kansas Jayhawks star defensive lineman Daniel Wise for a Q&A during the week of the 2019 East-West Shrine game to talk about the Wise last name, family lineage and what it meant to be a Jayhawk.

Q&A with Kansas DL Daniel Wise

Corey: What about this week (2019 East-West Shrine Game) and what it represents for you and the Kansas program?

Wise: It's huge for me to be able to just represent the University of Kansas. Throughout everything I'm doing at the Shrine hospital, on the field, having that Jayhawk on my helmet means a lot to me.

Corey: I know the team success wasn't what you may have hoped for during your career but individually you've been very productive the last three seasons. When you think about how you've been able to work the edges of guards and tackles by being slippery. Talk about your technique and what has allowed you to become that type of player.

Wise: My work ethic, my routine in the summer, my workouts, guys I train with, my teammates. Picking up things from them (teammates) and picking up things from my coaches. My dad (former NFL player Deatrich Wise, Sr.), my No. 1 coach, and my older brother (New England Patriots DL Deatrich, Jr.). Always being around football and always watching football.

Daniel's older brother, Deatrich, Jr. (No. 99 pictured), was a participant in the 2017 East-West Shrine Game and has since gone on to post 9.5 quarterback sacks in two seasons with the New England Patriots.

Corey: We actually spent time with your brother here at the East-West Shrine game a couple of years ago. What has his success meant for you in continuing on that family lineage?

Wise: It's huge for me to be able to follow his footsteps at the East-West Shrine game and hopefully one day maybe with him or wherever I go. But to be able to enter the league with him, it's been a journey.

Corey: What type of scheme do you think you fit best in? You've been a four-technique, five-technique and three-technique. You can line up in the reduced front over the center. What do you think is your best position to start at?

Wise: Just the experience that I got playing at the University of Kansas in a 4-3 and 3-4, playing all up and down the line. It has given me a lot of experience on the line. Can play just about anywhere on the line confidently. But I think I earn my best money at the three-technique.

Former Kansas defensive lineman Daniel Wise (No. 96 pictured) posted 151 tackles, 18.5 quarterback sacks, 44 tackles for loss (2nd in school history) and blocked three kicks during his time as a Jayhawk.

Corey: It's funny, when your brother was coming out, we asked him the exact same question. Because at Arkansas he was playing up-and-down the defensive front.

Wise: Yes sir, yes sir. That's right.

Corey: So I guess the family lineage spreads to positional versatility. Toughest opponent in school?

Wise: My toughest opponent in school I'd say would have to go to No. 55 at West Virginia.

Corey: Cajuste (Yodny).

Wise: Yeah...Cajuste. He was a good athlete. His ability to adjust. His hands and his feet. He was a nice athlete, nice guy to go against.

Corey: If an NFL scout wanted your best game of your career what would it be? I know one game I watched two years ago against Texas (2016)...in Kansas.

Wise: Yeah, when we beat 'em. I feel like that's one of my best games. Yes sir.

Corey: Give me another one.

Wise: Texas again this year. The West Virginia game (2018). The West Virginia game is kind of what sparked the season for me.

Corey: Best of luck. Enjoyed watching you play and good luck in the NFL.

Wise: Thank you.

The Barton gene

Cody Barton is a Utah Ute through and through.

The Utah linebacker is the son of two former Utes: his mother, Mikki, played basketball and volleyball. In 1993, she was named the WAC Player of the Year in basketball and led the nation in blocks in volleyball to earn all-conference honors. His father, Paul, played football and baseball in Salt Lake City. He went on to spend a year in the minors with the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization.

Paul and Mikki not only passed on the Utes genes to Cody but his older brother, Jackson, and his younger sister, Dani, also donned the red and white.

Cody's brother, Jackson (No. 70 pictured), is an NFL prospect in his own right after starting 29 games at both right and left tackle over a four-year span.

Dani plays volleyball while Jackson played offensive tackle for the last four years. Jackson finished this season as a first team All-Pac-12 performer while Cody was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention.

Despite having a brother on the team and a family of Utes, the person on campus Cody Barton might be closest to is linebacker Chase Hansen.

Last offseason, Barton helped Chase in his transition from safety to fellow linebacker.

“We had a strong bond,” said Barton during the week of the East West Shrine Game. “Me and Chase were very close. He’s one of my best friends on the team besides my brother, I stayed at his house a couple nights during the week.”

Barton said he and Chase would compete in everything from lifting in the weight room to running in the hallways.

Utah All-Pac-12 linebacker Chase Hansen, pictured left, working hand placement with fellow friend and teammate Cody Barton prior to the 2018 Holiday Bowl.

The bond translated from Chase’s studio apartment all the way to the gridiron. The pair finished as the team’s two leading tacklers.

Barton finished with 117 tackles while Hansen added 114. Barton also bested Hansen with four sacks to two. He added another piece of hardware to his trophy case during the week of the 2019 East-West Shrine game, when he won the Pat Tillman Award, which is given to a player who best exemplifies intelligence, sportsmanship and service.

“Throughout his career, Barton has demonstrated a relentless drive and great awareness on the field, frustrating offenses like the man for which the award is named,” stated a press release from the East West Shrine Game.

The Utes finished 13th overall in yards allowed per contest and that mark could be attributed in part to Barton’s work as the commander of the defense.

“Just about every play we’re communicating with (the defensive line),” Barton said. He also on occasion talks with the back end of the defense.

The communication between the three levels of the defense allows the Utes to run various stunts and shades in the front while timing blitzes between the linebackers.

Barton (No. 30 seen rushing Clayton Thorson in the 2018 Holiday Bowl) posted nine career QB sacks and 23.5 tackles for losses.

The NFL prospect credited Utah Utes defensive coordinator and safeties coach Morgan Scalley for the harmony among the Utes defense.

“We’re always disguising,” Barton said. “Everything we were doing we were always disguising.”

One thing Barton doesn’t disguise is the brotherhood he has with his fellow Utes and the personal competition he has with Chase.

“I hope he sees this and knows I’m faster,” said Barton. It’s worth noting, Barton finished with a 4.64 40-yard dash at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, while Hansen didn’t participate due to a hip injury.

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Fresno flanker’s NFL family

Fresno State doesn’t have the name recognition of other West Coast powers like USC or Stanford but one thing can’t be ignored, the Bulldogs have shown a propensity for producing NFL wide receivers.

Henry Ellard, Adam Jennings, Paul Williams, Devon Wylie, Davante Adams, Bernard Berrian, Rodney Wright… the list of receivers drafted from Fresno goes on and on.

Former Bulldog great Stephone Paige set an NFL single-game receiving yardage record in 1985 with 309 yards against the San Diego Chargers. The record stood until it was broken by Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Willie 'Flipper' Anderson in 1989 (336).

Former Fresno State wide receiver KeeSean Johnson caught 275 passes for 3,463 yards (12.6 YPC) and 24 touchdowns in his career.

The next in the lineage could be KeeSean Johnson and he doesn’t need a history lesson, he knows the guys who have come before him.

“I learned about their stats and learned what they did,” Johnson said during the week of the 2019 East-West Shrine Game. “Those type of guys come back to the school and talk to you and you have to take it all in.”

One person Johnson said he models his game after is Davante Adams, who was drafted by the Green Bay Packers before Johnson’s freshman season.

Adams went from Fresno to the NFL and worked his way into a reliable target for Aaron Rodgers, producing two Pro Bowl seasons.

Adams and Johnson also both attended Palo Alto High School, where Johnson played both football and basketball.

The 6-foot-1, 201-pound prospect said Adams' clean release off the line is what stands out to him. Johnson is a good route runner in his own right and says he also likes watching Cooper Kupp (LA Rams) and Keenan Allen (LA Chargers).

“You can learn anything from anybody on the field just by watching them,” Johnson said. “That's how I learned and that’s what helped me.”

Of Johnson's 66 career catches on third down, 47 went for first downs.

The film study has paid off for Johnson, who says he can see himself playing in either the slot or on the outside.

“Whatever team I get a chance to play for hopefully I get a chance to make an impact at wherever (position) they play me,” Johnson said.

He finished his senior season with 95 catches for 1,340 yards and eight touchdowns.

Among his other accomplishments include back-to-back nominations to the All-Mountain West second teams.

Over the last three seasons, Johnson has started all 40 games and has amassed 238 receptions, 3,126 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Three things are certain. Death, taxes and Fresno State will produce an NFL wide receiver. And if Johnson can produce like he did for the Bulldogs at the next level, look for him to return to Fresno and groom the next pup.

Utah PK Matt Gay: From the pitch to the gridiron

A football and soccer ball have striking differences but none of that seems to matter to this NFL hopeful.

Former Utah Utes kicker Matt Gay played just one season of high school football but after being named a consensus FBS All-American in 2017, he is preparing for the NFL Draft.

“It’s just a fitting ending to the hard work and the risk that I took kind of leaving soccer a few years ago.…and showing it’s paying off. It just shows the next step in the journey to go in the NFL,” Gay said during the week of practice at the 2019 East-West Shrine Game. “It’s a testament to hard work and I just really appreciate the opportunity being down here.”

Gay (No. 97 pictured) was 3-of-3 on field goals and hit all three of his extra point attempts in the 2017 Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl.

The former walk-on, who has a 71-percent touchback rate on kickoffs, has been able to translate his strong leg to the gridiron but he does note some technique differences between kicking the different balls.

“Kicking a soccer ball at my position of center forward was about trying to keep the ball low and on goal and now (in football) you have to get the ball up and above blockers,” Gay said.

Another difference Gay noted is most soccer kicks vary depending on the situation but in football every kick should be exactly the same.

According to DraftNasty analysis, Gay keeps an erect upper body on kicks that require power and he keeps his head inside of the football and in-between the plant foot and his kicking platform. 

However, the draft prospect still has to shake his soccer tendencies. Gay’s soccer background will occasionally show up and he’ll punch at the ball on some of his longer attempts, like he did on Day 2 of practices during the week of the East-West Shrine game, when he pushed a 58-yard field goal low and to his left from the right hash.

“Sometimes I find myself in a soccer mentality where you punch at it because I’ve done it my whole life,” Gay said. “It’s about getting the repetition in your body to change to certain techniques to make sure the kicks look the same.”

Before transitioning to the gridiron, Gay was a three-time all-state soccer player and a team captain at Orem High School.

From there, he played two years of soccer at Utah Valley, where he earned second-team NSCAA All-West Region honors.

It wasn’t until 2017 when he walked on to the Utah football team during preseason camp that he left the round checkered ball behind.

His acclimation to the oblong ball has been swift. Gay says he is comfortable kicking from 60 yards out and is even confident in himself from as far as 65 yards out.

The relative newcomer to the game of football has also proven he can play in all types of weather conditions.

“Sometimes you get a perfect night early on in the season but we’ve had games in Colorado where it’s raining or the ball is cold and flat. You have to be able to handle it because no one is going to give excuses,” Gay said. “You have to make kicks when it’s snowy or rainy or sunny.”

As he gets more and more comfortable, Gay said he has relied on former Utah Utes and Chicago Bears kicker Andy Phillips.

Phillips was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2014 and was a second-team All-American in 2015 before signing with the Chicago Bears during the 2017 offseason.

Despite being waived by the Bears, Phillips enjoyed a successful career at Utah, where he set the school records in makes (23) and attempts (28) in 2014. However, both of those records have been broken twice over by Gay.

“He’s around all the time, I talk to him and he’s good about giving tips and pointers about staying calm,” Gay said.

Gay missed on just nine of his 65 field goals attempts as a Ute.

The former pupil has turned into a master in his own right. Gay made all 85 of his extra point attempts and was 56-of-65 on field goals during his two seasons in Salt Lake City. The 86-percent success rate ranks him ninth all-time in the NCAA and first in the Pac-12 for kickers who have made at least 50 field goals.

The 24-year-old has also established himself as a team leader and was named a captain for the Utes.

Gay wants NFL teams to know that no matter who selects him they will be getting a kicker who is willing to take his lumps and learn from them.

“Failure teaches you more than success,” Gay said. “In those moments when you fail that’s a big learning lesson. Success is great and enjoyable but you learn more when you fail.”

If his transition from high school and collegiate soccer to winning the Lou Groza Award in college football is any indication, Gay is a quick learner and has the potential to be successful at the next level.