Digest for 01-23-14


LOCAL

Nixon, Ursin play in all-star game

HOOVER, Ala. — Arkansas-Monticello senior football players Jamal Nixon and Calvin Ursin competed in this past Monday’s USA Football Bowl at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

Nixon, a two-year letter winner for the Boll Weevils and a second-team All-Great American Conference honoree this past season, was the top receiver for the Admirals team in this past Monday’s bowl game. The Harvey, La. native hauled in five passes for 60 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown reception from Wittenberg University’s Reed Florence to open the game’s scoring at the 3:39 mark of the first quarter.

Two plays earlier, Reed and Nixon hooked up for a 25-yard pass completion to get the Admirals into the red zone to set up the first quarter’s only score from either team.

Ursin, a first-team All-GAC honoree, joined Nixon as the Admirals cruised to a 37-13 win over the Generals in Monday’s senior all-star game. Ursin finished the game with three tackles, including one quarterback sack for a loss of eight yards. The Kenner, La. native was also in on a pass deflection in the win.

The USA Football Bowl showcases outstanding senior student-athletes at all levels of NCAA football.

McGee, Ursin earn all-America honors

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Freshman kicker Jamie McGee and senior defensive lineman Calvin Ursin have added another line to their postseason achievements list by being named to the Don Hansen NCAA Division II All-America Honorable Mention team, announced Tuesday.

McGee and Ursin were both named to the Don Hansen All-Region First Team in December. McGee was named Super Region No. 3 Freshman of the Year in addition to his all-region honor.

In addition to his Don Hansen regional and national honors, McGee earned spots on the Beyond Sports Network All-America Third Team, Daktronics All-Region Second Team and All-Great American Conference First Team.

The Lake Charles, La. native is UAM’s first ever placekicker to earn All-America honors. He broke the school and Great American Conference season record with 17 made field goals during the 2013 season. He was a two-time GAC Special Teams Player of the Week and tied the UAM and GAC record with threemade field goals in a game on two different occasions.

Ursin was also an All-Great American Conference First Team selection after finishing the 2013 season with 63 total tackles, including 29 solo stops, 9.5 tackles for losses of a combined 34 yards, three sacks for 21 yards, one forced fumble and recovery, one interception and one blocked kick. The Kenner, La. racked up a season-high of 10 tackles in UAM’s win over Northwestern Oklahoma State at home.

STATE

Four-star tight end decommits from UA

FAYETTEVILLE — Plantation (Fla.) High tight end Ravian Pierce is no longer committed to Arkansas.

Pierce announced his decision via Twitter Wednesday morning with a simple message: “Sorry but I’m decommiting.”

Pierce made a verbal commitment to Arkansas last October. He was one of the highest-rated prospects committed to Arkansas for its 2014 class. Pierce was rated as a four-star prospect on a five-star scale by Scout.com.

The Razorbacks were hoping Pierce would help a group of tight ends that includes sophomore Hunter Henry, who earned freshman All-America honors after finishing second on the team in receiving last season. Arkansas now has one tight end among its 2014 verbal commitments — Bentonville High’s Jack Kraus.

Arkansas has 19 verbal commitments for 2014. National signing day is Feb. 5.

Former Hog Holmes transfers to McNeese State

FAYETTEVILLE — Former Arkansas running back Nate Holmes has transferred to McNeese State.

The school announced Wednesday that Holmes was one of three transfers enrolled in classes this semester. Two of them came are from Southeastern Conference schools. Holmes joins former Mississippi State running back Derrick Milton.

Holmes left Arkansas after a sophomore season in which he had six carries for 17 yards. He was the Razorbacks’ primary punt returner as a freshman in 2012, averaging 6.4 yards an attempt.

McNeese State, which is a Football Championship Subdivision school located in Lake Charles, La., went 10-3 last season. It included a 31-10 loss in the FCS playoffs.

Holmes is one of four players who left the Razorbacks after the 2012 season, joining cornerback Ray Buchanan, Jr., and linebackers A.J. Turner and Myke Tavarres. Turner has transferred to Arkansas State, according to Scout.com. Buchanan, Jr., said earlier this month via Twitter he has transferred to Northern Iowa.

NATIONAL

Yankees snag Tanaka

BRONX, N.Y. — The New York Yankees have landed Japanese hurler Masahiro Tanaka.

Multiple sources reported on Wednesday that the Yankees had won the sweepstakes for Tanaka with a 7-year, $155 million deal that also includes an opt-out clause after the fourth year. The Yankees will also pay a $20 million posting fee to Tanaka’s former team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, under the terms of baseball’s revised posting system with Nippon Professional Baseball.

The 25-year-old right-hander finished an astonishing 24-0 with a 1.27 earned run average and 183 strikeouts against 32 walks in 212 innings over 28 games (27 starts) for Rakuten of Japan’s Pacific League.

Over the past three seasons Tanaka has gone 53-9 with a 1.44 ERA and 593 strikeouts over 611 1/3 innings. he’s also won two Sawamura Awards, an honor given to the top starting pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball.

In seven professional seasons, all with the Golden Eagles, Tanaka has posted a 99-35 mark and 2.30 ERA in 175 games — all but three as a starter — while fanning 1,238 batters in 1,315 innings.

The total value of Tanaka’s contract is the fifth-highest for a pitcher in Major League history, falling in line behind those of the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw ($215 million), the Tigers’ Justin Verlander ($180 million), the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez ($175 million) and the Yankees’ CC Sabathia ($161 million).