Lemming hopes to carry his weight

770624.png

Lemming hopes to carry his weight

If you've ever been on a diet, you know how frustrating it is to step on a scale in the morning and see that you haven't lost an ounce.

But Jake Lemming is frustrated because he can't gain an ounce. He eats all day long...protein shakes, steak, chicken, ham, turkey, eggs. You name it, he eats it. But Lemont's 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior defensive back can't gain any weight.

Why is it so frustrating? Because Lemming knows--and Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen, college coaches and recruiting analysts tell him--that if he can boost his weight to 175 without losing any of his 4.49 speed, he can realize his dream of being a Division I football player.

"It motivates me to get bigger and better," he said. "I'll eat anything to help me gain weight. I eat all day. I eat after 6 at night so I'll gain weight. But I'm stuck at 160. I can't get past it. I work really hard to perfect my game but nothing is coming out of it, no scholarship offers. My goal is to weight 170 to 175 before the season begins."

Lemming, who went from 140 pounds to 160 in five months after his junior season, is doing everything he can to gain 10 to 15 more pounds. He consumes a protein shake, oat meal and eggs in the morning, two big turkey, ham and salami sandwiches for lunch and steak or chicken for dinner.

He consumes protein shakes designed for gaining weight--milk, ice cream, strawberries, bananas, Whey protein. "I weigh myself every morning. But it's usually the same every day. I can't make a big jump. When I wake up, I think about eating more and more, at school and at home, any food that will help me to gain weight," he said.

And it wouldn't help if he changed his name. No, the fact that recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network is his uncle has no bearing on whether he makes it or not.

His father Terry is a celebrity of sorts, too. As commander of the North Region of the Illinois State Police, he was vice-chairman of transportation for world dignitaries who attended the NATO Summit in Chicago and in charge of 700 state policemen who were assigned to provide protection at the two-day event.

"Sometimes I wish my name was different so I can make a name for myself," Jake said. "I want to show I did it myself so nobody thinks I'm getting a break from my uncle."

Tom Lemming feels the same way. Last year, Jake was the most productive defensive back in the state, intercepting nine passes for 12-1 team that lost to Peoria Richwoods 34-31 in double overtime in the semifinals of the Class 6A playoff. He is ranked among the top 30 players in the class of 2013 in the Chicago area.

"It has been difficult to talk about him because people think because he is my nephew I'm just trying to build him up to be something he isn't," Tom Lemming said. "I told him I didn't want to talk about him or invite him to photo shoots until he earned it. But he had a better season than any defensive back in the state. He earned it.

"What he does is he outworks everyone. He has great football instincts. He is exceptionally quick to the ball. And he is confident. He understands leverage. He is a sure tackler. Realistically, he has Division I skills but he doesn't yet have Division I weight. If he can get up to 175, he will be a Division I player.

"But he has no offers. He must gain weight and strength. He must gain 15 more pounds. He played against some top wide receivers in the junior combine at Phoenix last January and did very well. If his name wasn't Lemming, I wouldn't have a problem. He is one of those kids you cheer for because he works so hard at improving his game."

Jake has been invited to attend several junior days...at Illinois, Indiana, Boston College, Tulsa and Northern Illinois. All are interested but waiting to see if he will tip the scales at 170 or more. To get more exposure, he will return kicks and punts next season, adding another dimension to his game.

"I tell college coaches that size shouldn't be a big factor in deciding how good a football player really is," he said. "It's all about heart and how bad you want it. When you're my size, nobody watches you. You have to work hard to get better every day and hope that someone will take a chance on you."

Tom Lemming often talks about two pint-sized football players who made it big in the NFL, Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders and wide receiver Don Beebe, but Jake prefers to single out two under-sized defensive backs who have made big reputations for themselves.

LSU's Tyrann Mathieu, a 5-foot-10, 175-pounder, was a Heisman Trophy finalist as a sophomore. Jim Leonhard, a 5-foot-8, 188-pounder was a walk-on at Wisconsin, became a two-time All-Big Ten selection, led the nation in interceptions and currently is a free agent in the NFL after playing with the Bills, Ravens and Jets.

"It proves it can be done," Jake said. "I'm motivated to make it."

He knows he could be in demand. He also is open to an appointment to Army, Navy or Air Force. Some schools project him as a safety, others as a cornerback. His uncle has often told him that cornerback is the toughest position to recruit on defense.

"I like both positions," Jake said. "You hit more and tackle more at safety. But as a cornerback, there is no better feeling than locking down a receiver and taking him out of the game. I feel like I should be able to do it. Someone should take a shot at me.

"I'll play anywhere for anybody. I prefer Division I. That's my goal. I set standards high for myself."

Panarin’s rep: “He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago”

Panarin’s rep: “He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago”

A little more than two years ago Artemi Panarin had many NHL teams vying for his services, the Blackhawks winning the bidding war and signing him. On Friday the Panarin-Blackhawks union was over, the 25-year-old traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But according to his agent, if Panarin had it to do all over again, he still would have signed with the Blackhawks.

Dan Milstein, who represents Panarin, said the Russian left wing is forever grateful to the Blackhawks for the past two seasons in which he put up stellar numbers in consecutive regular seasons.

“The experience, playing on the same line with [Artem] Anisimov and [Patrick] Kane, having coach [Joel] Quenneville and many other members of the organization help him along the way, providing the translation services and being there for him, the entire process made his transition to North America extremely easy,” Milstein said. “He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago.”

Milstein was in Chicago on Friday morning when he got the call from Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman on the trade – Bowman told the media on Friday that the deal “came together pretty quickly.” Milstein immediately called Panarin, who was about to get on a plane for a fishing trip in Russia.

“Initially he was shocked. But as the day went on we kept in touch and he understands,” Milstein said. “He said, ‘I understand it’s a business. I accept the challenge.’ His last words were, ‘I accept the challenge.’”

The deal, which sent Panarin and his upcoming two-year deal worth $6 million per season to Columbus, brought Brandon Saad back to Chicago. Saad will likely bring stability to the Blackhawks’ top line, which has missed his presence since he was traded in the summer of 2015. Who Kane’s left wing will be this season remains to be seen. Quenneville said on Saturday that Nick Schmaltz will probably get a good chance there; he played with Kane when Anisimov was hurt last season.

Still, the chemistry between Kane and Panarin will be tough to match. Milstein said he saw Kane briefly at the NHL Draft on Friday night, and that he told Milstein, “just let [Panarin] know that I love him.”

Panarin, like most of the Blackhawks, had a very quiet postseason. After recording seven points against the St. Louis Blues, Panarin had just one assist in four games against the Nashville Predators. Not long after the playoffs Panarin was interviewed in Russian. One of the quotes, translated into English, read, “I was not in the best shape and didn’t have enough strength” for the playoffs. Milstein didn’t believe that was an accurate translation.

“If you know Panarin, in his native tongue he’s very funny. If you use a translator, sometimes it takes things out of context. But I don’t believe that’s what he meant,” Milstein said. “He put a good [regular] season together, a fair season, but the performance in the playoffs, obviously, he was disappointed. He was frustrated with his performance.”

Milstein said Panarin will probably head to Columbus in a few weeks; he’s currently waiting on visa issues. Panarin’s time in Chicago was shorter than most thought it would be but his agent said he’s ready for the next challenge.

“Artemi is looking forward to coming here,” said Milstein, who was in Columbus on Monday. “This will be a good opportunity to shine.”

Cubs show why they are defending champs while Nationals still have something to prove

Cubs show why they are defending champs while Nationals still have something to prove

WASHINGTON – The Cubs already visited the White House. The Washington Nationals are still the team with so much more to prove.

Dusty Baker needs this October to cement his spot in Cooperstown, the way Joe Maddon put the final bullet point on his Hall of Fame resume. Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant took different routes out of Las Vegas, but only one has the World Series ring to go with the Rookie of the Year/MVP hardware. While the clock is ticking on Max Scherzer and that championship parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, the Jon Lester megadeal essentially paid for itself.

Cubs vs. Nationals is supposed to be a circle-your-calendar event. Except the Cubs rolled out a Cactus League lineup on Monday night and Nationals Park featured rows and rows of empty seats amid a crowd of 29,651 where the celebrity vibe became more George Will than A-Rod and J-Lo.

The Cubs still hung on for a 5-4 victory that might have been their best under-the-circumstances win in a season that will hit the halfway point this weekend, showing why they’re the defending champs in a game that lasted almost four hours.

“It is exciting – don’t get me wrong,” Maddon said. “It’s just that we’re attending with a different group than we thought we would be attending this party with.

“And that’s OK, because these guys now are getting the kind of experience that is going to be very beneficial to us in August and September.”

A rash of injuries forced the Cubs to start Jeimer Candelario at third base and Mark Zagunis in right field and Javier Baez kept making highlight-reel plays while Addison Russell rested his sore right shoulder, leaping to grab to a Harper line drive and racing across the left-field line and sliding into the wall to make another spectacular catch in foul territory.

With Kyle Schwarber more than 1,000 miles away in Des Moines and hitting the reset button at Triple-A Iowa, Willson Contreras became the leadoff hitter of the day and launched Gio Gonzalez’s fifth pitch of the game into the left-field seats.

The young Cubs manufactured an insurance run in the eighth inning when Baez stole third base and scored on Albert Almora Jr.’s perfectly placed bunt into the no man’s land between the pitcher’s mound and the first-base line. The bullpen is Washington’s Achilles’ heel and showed with a three-run meltdown in the ninth inning.

Eddie Butler – who began the season in the Iowa rotation – neutralized a powerful Washington lineup while getting just one strikeout in five innings. Maddon pushed a lot of bullpen buttons, not going to Wade Davis for a four-out save before summoning the All-Star closer when Hector Rondon couldn’t protect a five-run lead in the ninth inning.

The Cubs needed this with Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg looming the next two nights. But for all of their talent and regular-season dominance – three division titles since 2012 and close to a 100-win pace this year – the Nationals still haven’t won a playoff series in a city where the Senators once won it all in 1924.

This could be an epic matchup in October, bursting with stars and pumping with bad blood. Just listen to Baker during his pregame media briefing, responding to a question about a power hitter like Anthony Rizzo batting leadoff: “I ain’t worried about the Cubs. They can do their thing.”

Or Baker dismissing Maddon’s mind games and the possibility of intentionally walking Harper when Ryan Zimmerman is a Triple Crown contender: “It’s a new time and a new day.”

The last word from Maddon, who keeps insisting the 39-37 Cubs have a hot streak in them and that he digs the youth movement: “In a perverse way, it may benefit us in the long run.”