David Andrews started every game at center his final three seasons at Georgia yet was unwanted by the NFL scouting combine and undrafted when the league ran its annual cattle call four years ago. Less than six months after that draft he was the starting center of the New England Patriots, proving it’s not where you start that counts. It’s where you finish.
Andrews has finished at or near the top for three straight seasons now, starting 11 games as a rookie and then unseating previous starter (and former fourth-round draft pick) Bryan Stork the following summer to win the starting center’s job. Andrews has started all but two games since, including in the past two Super Bowls.
The nephew of former Super Bowl coach and Dallas Cowboys running back Dan Reeves (who also entered the league undrafted), Andrews has tied his uncle not only with his undrafted start but also with his two Super Bowl appearances. They’re tied with a ring a piece as well, but Andrews’ came in the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, the Patriots’ 34-28 overtime win over the Falcons in which they had to battle back from a 25-point third quarter deficit.
“This is what you dream of as a six-year-old,’’ Andrews tells the Talk of Fame Network this week on its weekly radio show. “I always wanted to bet on myself. I fell into a pretty great situation in New England.’’
One NFL guy facing a potentially not-pretty-great situation is Los Angeles Rams special teams coach John Fassel. Like all special teams coaches in the NFL, Fassel is preparing for what he hopes won’t be a life without the kickoff even though league officials are threatening to ban it if new ideas don’t lead to reduced concussions and other injuries on the play.
While Fassel concedes the concussive nature of the collisions born from players running 30 yards at each other must change, he doesn’t believe that change should eliminate the kickoff.
“I can’t wrap my head around taking that (play) away,’’ Fassel told the Talk of Fame Network this week. “If you cut out kickoffs you’re cutting out kickoff returns. I think kickoff return is a beautiful play in football. There’s so much blocking and tackling technique required.’’
Fassel admits that the play has to change. He’s not exactly sure how but believes the central issue is eliminating the 30-40 run at each other in favor of “close quarter combat. We’re headed to something a little bit different. But I hope they keep it a football play.’’
Speaking of the kicking game, our co-host and Hall of Famer Rick Gosselin states the Hall of Fame case for one of the game’s first pure kicking specialists, Sam Baker. Gosselin calls Baker “a pioneer’’ who spent 14 seasons in the NFL as a pure kicker and punter with four NFL teams. Baker was a four-time Pro Bowl selection, which is one more than Adam Vinateri, and led the NFL in scoring in 1957, punting average in 1958 and in 1962 set a franchise record for the Cowboys with his 45.4-yard punting average, a record that stood for 44 years.
Our series on the college programs that produce the most NFL players continues this week with a trip down to David Andrews’ alma mater, the University of Georgia. Georgia has had four players selected first overall in the draft, produced two Hall of Fame running backs and seven first-round choices at that position as well as a bevy of NFL quality defensive linemen and two wide receivers in Hines Ward and A.J. Green who would be as good a tandem as any the NFL has seen. Ward caught 1,000 passes for 12,000 receiving yards during his career and has already been a Hall of Fame finalist, while Green has made the Pro Bowl in each of his seven seasons in the NFL. If you’re looking for potential NFL talent you don’t have to go anywhere but Athens, GA., where the Bulldogs have three potential first round picks this year, linebacker Roquan Smith, running back Sony Michel and guard Isaiah Wynn.
Draft expert Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com also drops by to discuss not only the talent coming out of Georgia but who the keepers and sleepers will be next week. He also has some sound advice for Cleveland Browns’ GM John Dorsey, who holds the first and fourth picks in the first round, as well as the names of some guys you may not have heard of that he believes bear watching.
There’s all that and much more during the two hour show. You can find it on your local SB Nation radio station or by downloading out free podcast at iTunes or on the TuneIn App. You can also hear the show anytime by going to our website, talkoffamenetwork.com, and clicking on the helmet icon.