Drew Van Maanen knew he was facing long odds heading into the three-day rookie camp of the National Football League Houston Texans in early May.
First of all, the former Chaparral football standout was an undrafted free agent out of Wyoming.
And second, he is a fullback which is a disappearing position these days in the National Football League. But he is a long snapper and hoped his versatility might be attractive to the Texans or some other NFL team.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get invited back,” said Van Maanen. “I really enjoyed my time down there. I was in an NFL locker room. I’m going to stay in shape and my agent will try to make something work out somewhere else. So it’s a waiting game right now.”
With spread offenses, many high school and college teams don’t regularly use fullbacks and many NFL teams have virtually eliminated the position. However, some teams still have prominent fullbacks, and flexibility is important.
Fullbacks play on special teams, block, carry the ball in short yardage situations and sometimes are secondary receiving targets.
Van Maanen was a four-year fullback at Wyoming and a backup long snapper until an injury forced him to snap full-time on special teams during his 2017 senior season. He caught 14 passes for 170 yards in four years, ran the ball twice for five yards and was the team captain his senior season.
“Fullback is not a glorified position in the NFL,” said Van Mannen. “It’s not used a whole lot. So I knew going in it was going to be a tough task. But long snapping is something even moving forward that I can bring to the table. I knew it was going to be a long road, but if you love the game, you give everything to try to make the team.
“I worked on snaps every day in practice at Wyoming. Anytime I can get on the field, I like that opportunity, no matter if is special teams, long snapping or fullback.”
Schultz, Sloan honored
Wrestler Cohl Schultz of Ponderosa and hurdler Emily Sloan of Rock Canyon were two of the athletes honored on the Xfinity Sports Award show which used online voting, a media panel and advisory committee to make the myriad selections.
Schultz was the chosen for the Most Outstanding Performance for a Male Athlete.
The junior heavyweight won his third straight state wrestling title and completed an undefeated 50-0 season. Before the high school season started Schulz became the first American Cadet Greco-Roman wrestler to win a world championship since 1997 when he won the gold medal in the tournament in Greece.
Sloan was selected as the girls Athlete of the Year. The senior, who will continue her track career at Oregon, is the three-time 5A champion in the 100-meter hurdles heading into this season’s state meet. She won the 2016 state 300 hurdles title and set a Colorado all-time record at the Continental League championships with a 40.77 clocking to break the old mark of 41.18. Her 40.77 is the second fastest in the country.
Seems like the Colorado High School Activities Association should think about hiring a meteorologist at least part-time during the unpredictable spring months. Then the CHSAA wouldn’t have to monitor online sites of the National Weather Service, Weather Bug and Weather.com.
The CHSAA condensed the 5A and 3A state tennis tournaments to two days because of stormy weather that was forecast for May 12. The CHSAA delayed the start of the double elimination 3A, 4A and 5A state baseball tournaments to avoid the rain that was forecast for May 18 and 19.
Each of the first two days of the baseball tournaments were pushed back to May 21 and 22. The second weekend of the tournaments will now be played May 26 and 27.
The National Weather Service predicted a 50 percent chance of rain for May 18 and a 60 percent chance for May 19.
However, the state track meet still was held May 17-18-19 at Jeffco Stadium.
CHSAA commissioner Jean Roberts-Uhlig told CHSAANow.com that the events on the track and some field events were able to be held despite rain. CHSAA had contingencies for some field events. Lighting, however, would force delays and interrupt the meet.
CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann pointed out the baseball tournament schedule was altered to ensure all games could be completed on the same day.
“To have one team or two teams play a game on Friday and use up a pitcher and have others not have to use a pitcher until Monday undermines pitch counts and interferes with the competitive integrity of the tournament,” Borgmann told CHSAANow.com.
If fields were not playable on May 21 and 22, games would move to May 25 and 26 with the semifinals and finals set for June 1 and June 2.
Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 303-566-4083.
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