The imposing top pick of the 2008 NFL Draft gears up for the season
At 6' 7'', 315 pounds, Jake Long is a big guy, so it's fitting that the offensive lineman -- who was taken Number 1 by the Miami Dolphins at April's NFL Draft -- arrives in South Florida facing some huge expectations. The two-time consensus All-America from Michigan talked to SI KIDS about the pressure to succeed, how he prepares for games, and why it's not always so easy being the big man.
What was it like being taken Number 1 overall in the draft?
It was a dream come true. It's a huge honor, and there's a lot of pressure that comes with it, but I'm ready. I'm just excited to start playing and prove that it was the right pick.
What makes your position so challenging?
The defensive linemen, especially the defensive ends who are running 4.5 second, 40-yard dashes. They're so much faster and stronger than they've ever been. So a lot of times, when you're pass-blocking, you're just retreating and trying to buy time. Having to block these huge, great athletes, especially at this level, makes it very challenging.
How do you prepare?
You have to watch a lot of film, and then go out and work on technique and do it to perfection. So when game day comes around, you're prepared.
When did you know you were going to be an offensive lineman?
I started playing football in elementary school, and they put me on the O-line. Of course, when you're smaller, you always want to play a different position. I wanted to play quarterback or running back, but I never got the chance. It was never going to happen, so I just stayed at O-line and I've been there ever since.
Your $57 million contract shows that it pays to be big, but what are the drawbacks?
I can't fit in small cars. Anything that involves me in small places doesn't work very well.
THE REPORT CARD
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
The colt won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. When asked if the pressure of winning the Triple Crown was getting to him, Big Brown said, "Naaay."
Forget Spider-Man. The D-backs have their own Webb-slinger. The righthander is the first pitcher to win his first nine starts in a season since 1985.
The Away Team
On the Road Again is not a song NBA playoff teams like to hear. In the conference semi-finals, the visiting team won only three of 25 games.
FACES IN THE CROWD
Jacob Callahan, 8
Wrestling * Greenwood, SC
Talk about a natural on the mat. Jacob didn't start wrestling until last October, but he's already a state champion and a national silver medalist. Jacob won gold in the bantam (age 7-8), 70-pound division at the South Carolina AAU Championships in March. Less than a month later, he took silver at the AAU Spring National Wrestling Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee. He lost the final match in triple overtime. Jacob's accomplishments earned him All-America honors.
COUNTDOWN TO THE 2008 Olympics
The 15-year-old U.S. national champion is a former gymnast who started diving only three years ago. Ishimatsu took to the sport like a fish to the water. "The basic flipping and twisting are the same. The only difference is in diving, you have to land on your head," she jokes.
Making a Splash:
One of Ishimatsu's trademarks is the back three-and-a-half pike. After jumping from the platform, she must complete three and a half somersaults while bent at the waist with her legs pointed out. She then straightens up and hits the water at around 33 miles per hour. Ishimatsu is one of only three women in the world doing the dive in competition.
Ishimatsu takes her preparation very seriously. She is enrolled in an online high school so that she can train six days a week for six to seven hours a day. As the Olympics approach, she's not letting the pressure get to her. "My ultimate goals are to have fun and do my best. If that gets me a medal, then that's great."
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
U.S. Olympic Team Trials
Track and Field (June 27-July 6)
Swimming (June 29-July 6)
Will sprinter Tyson Gay (right, center) be the top American in the 100 and 200 meters? Who will be the best in the U.S. in women's freestyle swimming, Katie Hoff (right) or Natalie Coughlin? And how many Olympic events will swimmer Michael Phelps qualify for? All these questions will be answered as the U.S. Olympic teams are selected for the Summer Games' most popular sports.
Forward-Center PAU GASOL of the Los Angeles Lakers is 28.
Center JOE SAKIC of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates his 39th birthday.
Forward HAKIM WARRICK of the Memphis Grizzlies turns 26.
Tight end CHRIS COOLEY of the Washington Redskins is 26.
Pitcher TIM HUDSON of the Atlanta Braves celebrates his 33rd birthday.
Manager JOE TORRE of the Los Angeles Dodgers is 68.
Guard RAY ALLEN of the Boston Celtics turns 33.
Midfielder KRISTINE LILLY of the U.S. women's national soccer team is 37.
Center MATT BIRK of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates his 32nd birthday.
Pitcher BILLY WAGNER of the New York Mets turns 37.
Guard DELONTE WEST of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates his 25th birthday.
Safety DEXTER JACKSON of the Cincinnati Bengals is 31.
Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist MISTY MAY-TREANOR turns 31.
"And Supergoalie comes to the rescue again."
-- Kian K., 10
San Carlos, CA
"He's looking at my unibrow."
-- Scotty P., 12
Palo Alto, CA
"Hey, Superman, where's your cape?"
-- Cris C., 9
Valley Stream, NY
"Whoa, I have that same shirt."
-- Mike M., 12
"Ahhh! It's the attack of the bear hug!"
-- William H., 10
Maple Grove, MN
"It's a bird, it's a plane... Wait, he's just a goalie."
-- Trevor P., 12
"Aha! You're the one who stole my hat. Give it back."
-- Christian P., 11
"The future of soccer... Matrix style."
-- Ronen B., 12
"Stand back! I know kung fu."
-- Max S., 10
Maple Shade, NJ
The MOST HILARIOUS caption as voted by you at SIKIDS.com
"You really caught a fish that big?"
-- Andrew E., 11
Uh, honey, I think I shrunk the kids.
Claire N., 11
That itch has been drivin' me crazy!
Kimball T., 10
I have five chins.
Drew S., 10
Up top. Down low. In the middle, you're too slow.
Emma S., 10
Hold me, I'm scared.
Cullen D., 13
Top 5 Switch-hitters
First baseman, Houston Astros
2007 stats: .278, 34 HR, 102 RBI
Berkman led all switch-hitters in homers (34) last year. In 2001, he set the single-season record for extra-base hits by a switch-hitter (94).
Third baseman, Atlanta Braves
2007 stats: .337, 29 HR, 102 RBI
Jones's 394 career homers through May 1 rank third all-time among switch-hitters behind Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle (536) and Eddie Murray (504).
Centerfielder, New York Mets
2007 stats: .276, 33 HR, 112 RBI
Through May 1, Beltran needed 12 homers to become the only switch-hitter in baseball history with 250 home runs and 250 stolen bases.
First baseman, Atlanta Braves
2007 stats: .306, 30 HR, 105 RBI
From 2004 through '07, Teixeira led all switch-hitters in RBIs (471). Last season, he was second among switch-hitters in slugging percentage (.563).
Shortstop, Philadelphia Phillies
2007 stats: .296, 30 HR, 94 RBI
Last season, the reigning National League MVP tied for second in the majors with 88 extra-base hits and led the NL with 139 runs.
102 of 110 sets that Roger Federer has won at Wimbledon since 2003. Over that span, he has won five men's singles titles. The 2008 Wimbledon championships start June 23.
TIPS FROM THE PROS
Blast Free Kicks with David Beckham
Midfielder, Los Angeles Galaxy
When taking a free kick, don't place the ball on just any spot. "Make sure you put the ball on a nice piece of grass, so it comes off your foot clean," says Beckham, who opened The David Beckham Academy to teach kids soccer in 2005.
"Look where the goalkeeper is [to see if he can] read where you're going to [kick the ball]," says Beckham. If the goalie is on the right side, aim left, and vice versa. Avoid giving the goalie any clues about where you plan to kick the ball.
Try to kick the ball with enough power so that even if the goalie can see it coming, he can't catch up to it. "I like to strike the side of the ball with just the instep of my shoe," says Beckham. Imagine that the ball is a face looking at you. If you're kicking with your right foot, you should make contact at the bottom of the right side of the ball (the face's left ear). Lefties should aim for the same spot on the left side of the ball.
The Simple Life
Beckham doesn't eat anything fancy for his pregame meals. "I like pasta and salads," he says. "You want the plainest pasta possible. Literally, just pasta and tomato sauce." If Beckham wants to add some protein, he puts grilled fish or chicken on top of his pasta. He also has a side dish of fruit and a salad.
Are YOU a Face in the Crowd?
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MARC SEROTA/GETTY IMAGES (LONG, ACTION)
Long won't get much of a summer break. He reported to rookie mini-camp only six days after he was drafted (inset).
NOAH K. MURRAY/THE STAR-LEDGER/US PRESSWIRE (LONG, INSET)
[See caption above]
HEINZ KLUETMEIER (BIG BROWN)
JASON WISE (WEBB)
V.J. LOVERO (BUS)
BILL FRAKES (GASOL)
SIMON BRUTY (COOLEY)
GREG NELSON (ALLEN)
HEINZ KLUETMEIER (WAGNER)
HAMISH BLAIR/GETTY IMAGES (MAY-TREANOR)
BILL FRAKES (TRACK)
L.G. PATTERSON/AP (HOFF)
DOUG EATON/USA SWIMMING (ISHIMATSU)
HARRY HOW/GETTY IMAGES (ISHIMATSU ACTION)
SIMON BELLIS/MANCHESTER UNITED/GETTY IMAGES
HEINZ KLUETMEIER (BELTRAN)
BOB MARTIN (FEDERER)
TRACY ALLEN/ISIPHOTOS.COM (BECKHAM)
"Warmup." Sports Illustrated Kids July 2008: 9. General OneFile. Web. 19 Nov. 2010.
Gale Document Number:A179868759
Friday, November 19, 2010