Kylie Fitts should be easy to spot on the field when Arizona takes on Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco in this week’s NFL opening weekend.
Fitts, the former Redlands East Valley star, will be wearing No. 49.
He’ll be the guy trying to slide past newly-acquired 49ers’ tackle Trent Williams or second-year Notre Dame product Mike McGinkley.
The guy Fitts’ll be aiming for is S.F. quarterback Jimmy Garappollo.
Believe it, or not, the NFL is up for its 2020 season. After all we’ve been going through.
Maybe it won’t be the highly-expected opening we were all hoping for, especially with SoFi Stadium set to open for the Rams and Chargers. It’s an elite place, as one who’s taken a tour can validate.
I couldn’t help shake the feeling that I once watched Bill Shoemaker ride a bunch of winners on that piece of land when it was Hollywood Park.
Now it’s a football stadium. Reminds me that every time I’m at Ontario Mills -- and I mean every time -- that there used to be a NASCAR track on that site.
At least football replaces horse racing. In Ontario, shopping replaced auto racing. Not the same.
Wish I could say I’ve seen a game at SoFi.
Fitts’ Cardinals will be at SoFi on Jan. 3.
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Cornerbacks were falling like flies off the Minnesota Vikings’ roster as the team cut down to its final 53-man roster for a curious 2020 season.
Nate Meadors, a top prospect out of San Gorgonio High School in 2013 headed for UCLA, remains solidly in Minnesota’s mix.
Back on Aug. 18, the Vikings waived Marcus Sayles. A few weeks earlier, on July 23, Minnesota trimmed Cameron Dantzler. We could go on with a bunch of names few have ever heard of unless, of course, you’re one of those NFL draft/free agent gawkers.
There was a crowded field of corners in Minnesota, a team looking for a deeper playoff run than last season’s NFL division loss to S.F.
Meadors, meanwhile, was listed as a safety.
Last Saturday, he was waived. One day later, he was signed to the Vikings’ 10-man practice squad -- a spot he fell into last season.
Last Jan. 10, right before Minnesota’s playoff game against San Francisco, Meadors was signed to the 53-man squad.
It’s quite a journey for a player that played QB on a strong Spartans’ squad … before landing at UCLA on a four-year up-and-down journey in the Bruins’ secondary.
Camp concluded with the Vikings making a flurry of moves, keeping Meadors involved in the organization.
Practice squad signings included fullback Jake Bargas, blocking linemen Brett Jones, Blake Brandel, Aviante Collins, Kyle Hinton, plus QBs Nate Stanley and Jake Browning, tight end Brandon Dillon, another CB, Mark Fields II, plus receiver Alexander Hollins, linebacker Blake Lynch and safety Josh Metellus.
That’s 13 players, though. NFL rules limit practice squads to 10; more moves to come.
Meadors, incidentally, won’t have to cover WR Stefon Diggs any longer since he was traded to Buffalo.
There are plenty of cornerbacks remaining in Minnesota’s camp.
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Speaking of cornerbacks.
A story on Jeff Hector, a two-year fireball cornerback at the University of Redlands, is set to be published. Hector, who is a transfer from Los Angeles Southwest College, picked off a nation-high (for NCAA Division III) nine passes last season, returning three for touchdowns, was an undrafted free agent pickup by Baltimore last spring.
All that COVID-19 stuff probably interrupted a true opportunity for him. He’ll tell you himself in the piece.
When he got cut, the New York Giants flew him into their camp.
It’s such a longshot to make an NFL team, anyway, so something like COVID-19 will fleece any longshot hopes for a player like Hector.
Face it: NFL will pick up on anyone that can play, but their first stops are always major colleges.
So wide receiver Brian DeRoo, a 1978 draft pick by the Giants, of all teams, remains the only NFL draftee out of Redlands.
These days, DeRoo is a retired school teacher from out in Indio.
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More on this to come, but it sure seems strange to view San G High’s football schedule -- Friday, Jan. 15 against Irvine Woodbridge followed by another home game against Riverside Notre Dame.
In case you’ve forgotten, Rich McClure is still head coach there.
That’s the guy that got the Spartans their 2018 CIF championship rings, plus a spot in the state finals.
He was also on since-departed head coach Ron Gueringer’s San G staff that won the 2016 CIF championship.
If there’s anyone out there that thinks this isn’t a football area, consider three of the close-by campuses -- Redlands Citrus Valley, nearby Aquinas, plus San G -- are coached by Kurt Bruich (state champion, Redlands East Valley, 2014), Jordan Brusig (two CIF titles, state finalist, one CIF runner-up) and McClure.
The resume for each man is still active.
That’s a big deal, folks, to have three top coaches in an area so small that it defies logic.
(Got a sports tip? Want to talk sports? Contact me at email@example.com)