SockFancy.com simple, easy, and funky

SockFancy.com simple, easy, and funky

Socks

Disclosure: I was provided a box from Sock Fancy for review purposes. Any opinions expressed are my own.

For about the past ten years socks have been all the rage for the dapper gent. For the about the past 5 years, socks have the thing for sneaker heads as a crucial accessory.  Sock Fancy straddles the fence with funky designs and innovative patterns that complement a businessman in full suit, or a kid looking for socks to match his Air Jordan Grape 5’s.  

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Sock Fancy rides the current wave easy access monthly subscription fashion delivered to your door, but what separates them from the pack is their ability to give you the option to customize your delivery options. Everything from the style of socks you receive to the pair of socks actually being created in your size (something someone like me can appreciate as I wear a 14), Sock Fancy’s designs are colorful, trendy, but not cookie cutter. Some of my more muted pairs I wear to work with slacks and dress shoes.

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Sock Fancy socks are comfortable; their 200 needle count socks made of combed cotton are produced here in the US in the great city of Atlanta, Georgia. They go on light and the hug the foot just enough for you to know they are there. They breathe well so you feel like you don’t have sweat socks on and they are soft and cozy enough to wear around the house by themselves. When the Mrs. takes me to one of our numerous amusement park visits I will wear my Sock Fancy socks with lightweight running shoes and feel great for hours.

Here are some my favorite designs…

Let's do it, Monday. #sockfancy

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This geometric 3D box design pair I like a lot! I wear them to the office with navy chinos and chocolate wing-tip dress shoes kind of like what you see in the picture.

Riding out! #sockgame #sockfancy

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I actually wore these on an interview not too long ago with a navy suit two-tone shirt and red & blue bowtie.

I wore these while in Honduras on my cruise perfect for the occasion! 

Thought these were cool, a sock designed to commemorate 1996 Atlanta Olympic games.

Always keeping an eye on the hottest trends ?⚫⚪ #pokemon #gottacatchemall #notreally

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Who doesn’t love Pikachu! I might grab these for my Kids.

I'm going in #weekendvibes #sockfancy #sockgame #subscriptionaddiction | ? by @jeyr3333

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The conservative red and black stripe looks great with the Jordan 3M Retro 13’s.

Dress Socks

Overall I have been nothing but pleased with my Sock Fancy 6 pack sock box. They fit for any occasion, give me a reason to be festive in my daily dress, and give a nice style injection to a simple pair of jeans and t-shirt. Sock Fancy being delivered to you monthly makes it easy so you don’t have worry about going on and ordering them yourself. If you want to add life to your black, brown, and blue sock drawer please check out www.sockfancy.com

Save with a special code for Nicki’s Random Musings fans, enter “friend15” on the Sock Fancy website to save 15% off your first order.

Top 10 2017 Draft Winners

Top 10 2017 Draft Winners

So I can say as a pro football fan this year’s NFL draft was pretty deep at several positions, deep enough in fact that guys with 1st and 2nd round grades and production slid, some as low as low as the 4th round. Minicamps just finished and fans got a preview of their newest talent and with that in mind I am rolling out my inaugural OK-Gent’s Top 10 NFL Draft winner’s reports.  I believe these 10 teams got stronger in the draft by…

Building Depth – Can these draft picks come in and start or be a backup.

Instant Impact Playmaker– A player that comes in and produces at a high level immediately

Value of the draft pick– Did your team draft a player in the third round with first round value?

Ideal fit for scheme– Does the player fit the offense/Defense they are being drafted to play in?

College Production– Stats and numbers the player produced regardless of college level of play.

  1. Minnesota Vikings
Photo Credit: Fox Sports Network

2017 Class- Key Draftee Delvin Cook RB Florida State,  

Members of the Vikings draft class include

Pat Elflein/ Center / Ohio State- Jaleel Johnson / DT / Iowa- Ben Gedeon / ILB / Michigan- Rodney Adams/ WR/ South Florida- Bucky Hodges/ TE / Virginia Tech Danny Isidora / Guard/ Miami-

Ifeadi Odenigbo / DE/ Northwestern- Elijah Lee / OLB/ Kansas State Jack Tocho / CB/ N.C. State

I thought the Vikes put up a solid draft; they satisfied a lot of areas of need, in particular, replacing future NFL Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson at RB with the Florida State Seminole Dalvin Cook (and free agent Latavius Murray). I think Cook will be an instant contributor and a solid back for years to come.  If he can stay healthy, he reminds me of another great Florida state back Devonta Freeman, now making a name for himself in Atlanta. Cook aside Minnesota did a great job of building instant depth in the draft. The Buckeye product Pat Elflein should fall into the two-deep depth chart and the addition of Michigan’s Ben Gedeon and the super athletic Kansas state Production Elijah Lee could add depth to one of the NFL’s youngest and more talented linebacking corps with budding stars Kendrick and Barr. I would go as far to say that Lee could possibly be Greenway’s replacement in few years if he sticks on at the other outside linebacker spot.  In the past few Iowa has rolled out some really good Defensive Tackles and Jaleel Johnson looks to fall in that line. The Vikings have a hole at DT that Johnson can fill nicely. New offensive targets Bucky Hodges at tight-end and Rodney Adams both look to be consistent targets posting similar stat lines in back to back seasons during their time in college. Hodges should slide into that number 2 TE spot behind Randolph easily in my opinion. Danny Isidora was run blocking specialist and could produce at either guard position. From what I am hearing N.C. State corner Jack Tocho has been making a wave at rookie camp so we will see what happens there too.

Summary All and all Minnesota getting a running back that was projecting to go top 15 in the second round was a steal. They also added quality depth at some key positions and may see a few starters emerge from this class in years to come.

Draft Rating 82%

  1. Cincinnati Bengals
Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Class- Key Draftee Joe Mixon RB Oklahoma

Members of the Bengals draft class include

John Ross / WR / Washington- Jordan Willis / DE / Kansas State- Carl Lawson/ DE / Auburn- Josh Malone / WR / Tennessee-  Ryan Glasgow / DT / Michigan- Jake Elliott / K / Memphis-  Jordan Evans / LB / Oklahoma – J.J. Dielman / Center / Utah- Brandon Wilson / RB / Houston- Mason Schreck / TE / Buffalo

Ok I know some fans took issue with the Bengals drafting Joe Mixon in the second round, and I get it. Let me say that as a father, son, and husband if any man ever put his hands on any of the women in my life it would be repercussions for those actions. However, as a former coach, I have dealt with situations with players who made mistakes and those that truly atoned for their actions often ended up being successful because they never made the mistake again. After serving a 1-year suspension his freshmen year at OU Mixon did just that, because of his skillset and dominant play the Bengals took a chance on him with their second round pick and I think they will be happy they did. With Hill and Bernard aging Mixon can come in and contribute in a rotation or be the every down back that Cinci needs. I know John Ross was their first round pick but I smell bust on him. A frail frame and history of injury I don’t see him being the true compliment to AJ Green long term. The Bengals also get a youth injection at defensive end by bringing in two stellar players in Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis both guys were stellar players in college and they can both get to the QB. With a year or so under their belt, they would a nice upgrade to the aging Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap. They also add two smart and athletic Linebackers in Jordan Evans who joined him OU teammate Mixon in Cincinnati and Hardy Nickerson Jr. from Illinois, I was a huge fan of his dad when I was a kid. The big wide receiver from Tennessee Josh Malone and the Buffalo Tight end Mason Schreck could provide depth also.

Summary I believe the Bengals gambled taking Ross in the 1st round, many experts had Ross falling down their boards due to his injury history.  If he can stay healthy he may prove some those folks wrong. Mixon was a steal in the 2nd round many experts believe (myself included) that he was the best running back in the draft.  The combination Willis and Lawson will pay dividends down the line, and the Bengals also pick a solid Kicker in Jake Elliott and quality back up running back in Brandon Wilson out of Houston. The Bengals added some good depth but there first 3 round picks will pay in the long run.

Draft Rating 84%

  1. Carolina Panthers
Photo Credit: Carolina Panthers

2017 Draft Class- Key Draftee Curtis Samuel / Athlete / Ohio State & Christian McCaffrey / Athlete / Stanford

Members of the 2017 Draft class include

Taylor Moton / Guard / Western Michigan- Daeshon Hall / DE/ Texas A&M- Corn Elder /  DB / Miami-

Alex Armah / FB / West Georgia- Harrison Butler / Kicker / Georgia Tech

Once again (just like the Bengals)  I did not like the Panthers 1st round pick of Christian McCaffrey, I feel like he is undersized and in the middle of the First round was too high to draft him. However, when I saw what they did in the second round I LOVED the pick. Curtis Samuel was one of the most talented players in College football last year; the kid can do it all. His talent level to me exceeds McCaffrey, but McCaffrey is no slouch! The combination of these two gives Cam Newton 4 players on the field instead of two! They can both line up in the backfield or play the slot position. Having them on the field at the same time!? Wow! The Carolina offense just improved by leaps and bounds with these two picks. Taylor Moton the big guard from Western Michigan was a good pick but I really liked adding D-end Daeshon Hall, you don’t hear his name often because he played across from the number 1 player drafted in Myles Garrett, but Hall is great athlete in his own right the 6’5 260 pound end racked up 13 tackles for loss at Texas A&M and added 4.5 sacks. The real enigma here is Corn (yes corn) Elder the DB out of the U. Elder is a solid tackler and plays the run superb.  He has nickel back written all over for the Panthers.

Summary– The drafting of McCaffrey and Samuel is as intriguing of a combination as I have seen in recent years. I believe they will wreak havoc on the NFL south (My Bucs included).  I think Hall is a dark horse to start by next (2018) season after he spends a year in the weight room. Moton will provide depth along the interior offensive line and Elder will help immediately. Overall the Panthers got Cam two shiny new toys to play with, helped the pass rush, and added depth to their O-line and Defensive backfield.

Draft Rating 86%

  1. Houston Texans
Photo Credit: Houston Texans

2017 Draft Class- Key Draftee DeShawn Watson / QB / Clemson

Members of the 2017 Draft class

Zach Cunningham / LB / Vandy- D’Onta / RB / Texas- Julien Davenport / OT / Bucknell- Carlos Watkins / DL / Clemson- Treston Decoud / Safety / Oregon State- Kyle Fuller / Center / Baylor

I have to say that the Texans had the best first five rounds of any team in the draft; every pick they made was a quality pick. Many people gave DeShawn flack saying he was not pro ready but I disagree, he is the most complete QB in the 2017 draft class, some may be more talented, some may have a better arm but there is not a more total packaged QB than Watson. The secret to drafting a good QB (90% of the time) is find a high production guy, from a winning program, that is Watson all day long. After getting in the first round the Texas continued to win by drafting Vandy linebacker Zach Cunningham. I felt like Cunningham could have easily been taken in the first round but slipped due to a hot run on QB’s. I only had two LB’s ranked higher than him, Reddick and Foster. I believe Zach will be the Heir to the injury-riddled Brian Cushing and will add more depth to the LB group. Then the Texans hit the jackpot again by the big power back D’Onta Foreman from Texas.  The two picks I really liked for them were in the trenches. Julien Davenport an intelligent O-lineman from Bucknell and Carlos Watkins the underappreciated and talented D tackle from Clemson. Treston Decoud and Kyle Fuller bring up the rear, but I believe in 2 to 3 seasons their first 5 picks could be starters with at least two pro-bowlers coming from this class.

Summary– What more could you ask for in a draft a future franchise QB, possible anchors at Running back and Linebacker, a new D-lineman to add to your already dangerous rotation and an O-lineman that adds depth. Great draft my only issue was trading up to get Watson you all lost a few picks but it’s always quality over quantity.

Draft Rating 87%

  1. Washington Redskins
Photo Credit: Redskins

2017 Draft class- Key Draftee- Jonathan Allen / DE / Alabama

Members of the 2017 Draft class include

Ryan Anderson/ OLB/ Bama- Fabian Moreau / CB / UCLA- Samaje Perine / RB / Oklahoma- Jeremy Sprinkle / TE / Arkansas-  Chase Roullier / Center / Wyoming-  Robert Davis / WR / Georgia State-  Josh Harvey-Clemons / Safety / Louisville- Joshua Holsey / DB / Auburn

The Redskins solidified a steadily improving defense with their first 2 picks. Due to a run on skill positions, Jonathan Allen regarded as one of the best D-linemen in the draft fell to the Skins at 17th. The Skins chose to stay in the state of Alabama and go with another defensive standout in Ryan Anderson. Anderson and Allen led the Crimson Tide in Sacks and tackles for loss last season.  These two guys can anchor your front 7 for years to come. Offensive skill guys Jeremy Sprinkle and Robert Davis provide a big blocking tight end and an under appreciated but quite productive wideout at the Division 1-AA level. I really liked the Davis pick, I feel like he was punished for playing at Georgia State but watching his film he was every bit of a top ten receiver in this year’s draft.  I also believe Washington grabbed a gem in the 4th round with Sooner Running Back Samaje Perrine.  In 3 seasons Perrine became OU’s all-time leading running back passing the great Billy Sims. Perrine is a power back with nimble feet, and I believe had he not had a few injuries in college and ran a 4.66 40 yard dash he would have been drafted in the second round. Speaking of the second round, the Skins other 2nd round picks DB Fabian Moreau from UCLA’s big cornerback at 6’0 and 200 pounds who led the Bruins in pass deflections in 2016.

Summary- the Bama Duo of Anderson and Allen will do big things in the nation’s capital drafting them when got them was a double steal! Moreau who got injured in training camp should provide a good role player for the defensive backfield and Perrine may be the starter in DC in the next season or so.

  1. Arizona Cardinals
Photo Credit: Arizona Sports

2017 Draft class- Key Draftee- Hasan Reddick / LB / Temple

Members of the 2017 Draft class include

Budda Baker / Safety / Washington- Chad Williams / WR / Grambling- Dorian Johnson / Guard / Pitt

Will Holden / OT / Vandy- T.J. Logan / RB / North Carolina- Rudy Ford / Safety / Auburn

The Cardinals lost some key pieces to their mega defense from last year. The one thing you know about the NFL is it is almost impossible to keep a super talented team together.  The Cardinals lost pro-bowler Calais Campbell, and stalwart safety Tony Jefferson, Arizona made it their goal to feel in those spots. They may not have filled them all but they drafted the best players available.  Hasan Reddick is jack of all trades linebacker who plays the run, just as good as he edge rushes. I thought he was most complete linebacker in this draft. Looks like they will play him at inside which should give them the presence in the middle they have wanted for so long. In replacing Jefferson they wanted to make sure they got it right so much so that they drafted two safeties in this past draft. Budda Baker was one of my favorite safety prospects in the draft and Rudy Ford out of Auburn looks like he is either still in negotiations or fighting to make the team at this current moment. I am a fan of both T.J. Logan the shifty speed back out of North Carolina and Chad Williams the big athletic receiver out of Grambling; they will give the offense more weapons to utilize. The Cards also beefed up the o-line adding Vanderbilt tackle Will Holden and the athletic guard out of Pitt Dorian Johnson.

Summary-Reddick and Baker will be an instant boast a great defense that has some holes to fill. Look for Williams to have a breakout year under the teaching of future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, and Logan to come in and contribute behind current top 10 NFL back David Johnson. I really pushed the Cards high on this list based on Drafting Reddick, I had him that high and I loved his film. This is a gamble for me but we will see how well he does in that defense. I am predicting Reddick to be in the running for Defensive Rookie of the year Honors.

Draft Rating 87.5%

  1. Los Angeles Chargers
Photo Credit: Chargers

2017 Draft Class- Key Draftee Forrest Lamp / Guard / Western Kentucky & Dan Feeney / Guard / Indiana

Members of the 2017 Class include

Mike Williams / WR / Clemson- Rayshawn Jenkins / Safety / Miami- Desmond King / DB / Iowa

Sam Tevi / OT / Utah- Isaac Rochell / DL / Notre Dame

The Chargers knew exactly what they wanted to do in this draft and they did just that. L.A. drafted two of the best offensive lineman in this draft at the end of the first round and into the second with Forrest Lamp the athletic stud from Western Kentucky and Dan Feeney run blocking sensation out of Indiana. Not to overshadow the fact they probably drafted the most complete wide receiver in draft in the first round with Mike Williams from Clemson. The L.A. Power also added some ball hawks to their defensive back field in D-Back Desmond King from Iowa and safety Rayshawn Jenkins from the U. Adding another offensive lineman in Sam Tevi from Utah is just more insurance to make sure they keep the aging Phillip Rivers upright and healthy. Isaac Rochell a big D-Lineman from Notre Dame should also add depth as he a can play both D-tackle and D-End.

Summary- I believe Lamp and Feeney will both have the opportunity to compete for starting jobs along the Chargers o-line. The current starter at left guard is Orlando Franklin is really a right tackle, so I believe one of these guys will slide in at that Guard position.  Mike Williams is an instant starter unless he just performs horribly in camp. King and Jenkins are day 1 rotation guys who I expect to contribute early and often.

Draft Rating 88%

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers Draft Class

2017 Draft Class- Key Draftee T.J. Watt / LB/Edge / Wisconsin

Members of the 2017 Draft Class include

JuJu Smith-Schuster / WR / Southern Cal- Cameron Sutton / CB / Tennessee- James Connor / RB / Pitt

Joshua Dobbs / QB / Tennessee- Brian Allen / DB / Utah- Colin Holba / Long Snapper / Louisville- Keion Adams / OLB / Western Michigan

This was a classic Steelers draft! They filled needs but drafted those gritty blue collar players that fit the Steeler profile.  Pittsburgh has taken time rebuilding in famed linebacking core drafting Ryan Shazier in the first round 4 years ago, 2 years ago they took Bud Dupree in the first round, and this they may have found the heir apparent to James Harrison (if he ever retires! The man is bionic!) in T.J. Watt yes the little brother of All NFL Defense king  J.J. Watt. Watt is prototype edge rushing LB build for a 3-4 scheme at 6’4 250 he is an athlete that can cover and play the run. If I am the Steelers I slide Harrison inside and get 3 more years from him and put Watt at the outside Linebacker spot.  In the second round of the draft, they picked JuJu Smith-Schuster the speedy WR out of Southern Cal, at the beginning of last season many experts had him being drafted in the middle of the first round so Steelers got a quality player in 2nd round. Looks like Pittsburgh did well in Rocky Top Country drafting extremely intelligent QB Joshua Dobbs and battle tested corner Cameron Sutton. I also like Keion Adams who was an active pass rushing force at Western Michigan, look for him dark horse candidate to see playing time at least on special teams.  The pick that I feel fits the true Steeler profile is James Connor right in their backyard at Pitt. The bullish running back beat cancer and went through chemotherapy all while actually practicing and playing games with his teammates, but don’t think that the Steelers drafted Connor for a media story; he was the reigning (2014) ACC player of the year and a 1st team All-American before becoming injured and then being diagnosed with Cancer.

Summary- the Steeler’s draft class was one the deepest most talented drafts this year. If T.J Watt is half as good as his brother he will make the Pro-Bowl by next season.  Adding JuJu to the combination of the Electric Antonio Brown and the big receiver Martavius Bryant will pay dividends down the line similar to what the Giants did with Sterling Shepard last season bringing in as reliable number 3. I think Dobbs slides in at the automatic #3 QB spot in the rotation and Connor will be the Thunder to LaVeon Bell’s lightning and the if coaching staffing can unlock  Adams potential they will have one of the most dangerous pass rushing rotations in the NFL

Draft Rating 90%

2. Jacksonville Jaguars

Photo Credit: Jaguars

2017 Draft Class- Key Draftee– Leonard Fournette / RB / LSU

Members of the Draft Class include

Cam Robinson / OT / Alabama- Dawuane Smoot / DE / Illinois- DeDe  Westbrook / WR / Oklahoma- Blair Brown / LB / Ohio- Jalen Myrick/ CB / Minnesota- Marquez Williams / FB / Miami (OH)

Building off of last year’s draft taking the talented Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack in the first and second round, the Jags decided to add more weapons to their young and dangerous offense by grabbing Leonard Fournette the much revered Running Back from LSU. Many experts think Fournette is next great back to enter the league; I am not one of them. Don’t get me wrong, Fournette is a definite first round pick there are some questions about his top end speed, as he posted a 4.51 40 yard dash time. I believe he will do well in the NFL I just don’t think he is next Adrian Peterson like many compare him to.  The Jags added another offensive line anchor in Cam Robinson in the second round which was great! He is plug and play guy at Right Tackle and guard and a developmental player at left tackle. Dawuane Smoot from the Fighting Illini is pass rush specialist who will touch the field on third downs like Elvis Dumervil didn’t early on in his NFL career. Once again a team gets another Oklahoma Sooner steal in the late rounds; DeDe Westbrook was taken by the Jags in the 4th round.  The reigning Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top college wide receiver, Westbrook’s senior year was astounding however not attending the senior bowl and skipping combine workouts may have hurt his stock. Jalen Myrick was a golden late round pick out of Minnesota I can see him working his way up the depth chart into the dime package.

Summary- Extremely high quality picks in the first four rounds have the Jags looking to reload for the second time is as many years. Fournette, Robinson, Smoot, and Westbrook have the chance to start or contribute as rookies. Blair Brown the super athletic yet undersized LB from Ohio may make the rosters as a special teamer. I really like Myrick and think he may be an x-factor. Westbrook joins a deep talented bunch of 4 year wide out with Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, I predict he will crack the top 3 and take the slot receiver spot.  Overall the Jags added quality talent and depth in this class and I am really high on their first four picks.

Draft Rating 92%

  1. Miami Dolphins
Photo Credit: CBS Miami

2017 Draft Class – Key Draftee- Raekwon McMillan / LB / Ohio State

Members of the Draft Class include

Charles Harris / DE / Missouri- Cordea Tankersley / CB / Clemson- Isaac Asiata / Guard/ Utah

Davon Godchaux / DT / LSU= Vincent Taylor / DT / Oklahoma State- Isaiah Ford / WR / Virginia Tech

If you are dolphins fan you are thanking the football deities about this last draft. If you play your contract negotiations right with this rookie class your defense will be strong for at least the next 4 years, taking it from the top with Charles Harris the edge rushing technician out of Missouri. Watching Harris’s film you can see how this guy burst onto the scene from nowhere to become one of the most coveted D-end prospects in this year’s draft. Harris’s inside spin move is vicious and he works well with his hands at the line of scrimmage. Accompanying Harris to the land of sunshine is stellar middle linebacker Raekwon McMillian for Ohio State. I believe has the potential to be a poor man’s Luke Kuechly with a year of development in the NFL. Cordea Tankersley is long cornerback prospect out of Clemson who played some of his best football down the stretch last season, including picking off a potential game-winning pass in the end zone of the national championship bowl series against Ohio State. Isaac Asiata had a good enough showing at the combine to be projected into the 3rd round in the draft and the Dolphins were able to get him in the 5th. Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor out of LSU and Oklahoma State will add serious depth on the defense interior with Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips as incumbents. Isaiah Ford from Virginia Tech was a solid receiver for the Hokies racking up back to back 1000 yard seasons in the ACC.  All and all the Dolphins had the most solid top to bottom draft this year, anxious to see what they do with all this talent!

Time will only tell how these rookies do but it is going to be fun watching try and succeed.

 

Yours truly,

The OK Gent

The Oklahoma Gentleman’s Top 10 2017 NFL Draft Sleepers

The Oklahoma Gentleman’s Top 10 2017 NFL Draft Sleepers

It’s my favorite time of the year! The time when smart NFL franchises get better, some gambles pay off, and overrated bust will be overpaid. The NFL draft is here! With that in mind this my third annual OK Gent’s top 10 NFL sleepers report! These are the guys who may have gone to a small school, may not have been in the right system in college to fit their skill set, may not have the optimum size NFL scouts like, or just need to get the right coaching at the pro level to be productive players. I have always looked at the drafting of players is like dating, right match, right time, equals great results. Here are my top 10 sleepers for the 2017 NFL draft, in no particular order.

  1. Greg Ward, Jr. QB/Athlete 5’11 175 lbs. / University of Houston/ Tyler, Texas
Photo Credit – Daily Cougar

At the beginning of the college football season, there was no one player who was as strong a contender for the Heisman as Ward. After beating my beloved Sooners at the beginning of the season he went on an excellent run. A slight injury hampered him along with a couple of hard losses but I believe Ward is the truth.

Strengths– Great middle to short distance passer, some of the best feet I’ve seen in a QB since Mike Vick came out of Virginia Tech, good speed for a QB, normally make the right decision under pressure.

Development Areas- Has an average at best deep ball, at 5’11 will get dinged for his height,

Summary- Ward is a difference maker, but with his lack of size, and QB accuracy issues, he decided to enter the draft as WR. I don’t agree or disagree with his decision but in the end, it may work best for him. I most definitely see Randal Cobb comparisons here and those are well deserved. I believe he will make a roster and contribute automatically. Eventually, could see a pro bowl or two.

  1.  Gerald Everett TE/ 6’3 240 lbs. / University of South Alabama / Atlanta, Georgia
Photo Credit: AL.com

This young man blew up the Senior Bowl! He went from relative unknown to a potential day 2nd-day pick. Everett is former high school wide receiver that put on some size at UAB the school attended before going to U.S.A. because he had good (not great) speed running a 4.62 they moved him to tight end. It paid off well with Gerald posting 8 touchdowns his junior season and over 700 yards his senior season.

Strengths- Gerald is essentially a big receiver so he has soft hands and played his best football with the lights were the brightest. Against Mississippi State, South Alabama’s biggest name competitor of the season Everett posted 8 catches for 95 yards and touchdown.

Development Areas- To be a former wideout Everett’s route running skills are below average; his hands are considered small and can struggle with breaking coverage away from safeties.

Summary- Testing well at the combine helped his stock rise, he has the potential to be a strong backup and contribute to a team with a year or so development.

  1. Tyler Orlosky C/ 6’3 298 lbs. / West Virginia University/ Cleveland, Ohio
Photo Credit: NFL.com

This kid does a lot right! A 3-year starter at center for the mountaineers, Tyler’s film is very stellar. I rarely see him get overpowered by defensive linemen; he normally reads defenses well and picks up blitzes superb. Orlosky was one of the bright spots for a WVU offensive line that struggled a lot this year.

Strengths- Handles nose guards well, powerful enough to play center at the NFL level, a smart center which is a coach’s dream, hardworking no plays off type of player. Has played against some quality defensive linemen in Big 12 and stood his own. Plays with a mean streak!

Development Areas- Can be tight-hipped at times, needs to work getting to the second level for blocking linebackers

Summary- I will be bold with this one, I think Orlosky is good enough to start day one in NFL, but not a center, Guard will be his calling if he can work at guard and slide into center after a few seasons he will do just fine.

  1. Connor Harris LB/ 5’11 245 lbs./ Lindenwood University/ Kanas City, Missouri
Photo Credit: NFLDraftBlaster.com

As former small college football player, I know it’s not about what school you come from but about the production. I played with several guys that played in the NFL and they all had the intangibles, size, speed, and serious production at their level of play. Connor Harris checks off just about every box on this list.

Strengths– Connor is all-everything at the division 2 level, he has averaged over 100 tackles every season since his freshman season playing for the Lions. Harris amassed over 633 tackles which make him the all-time leading tackler in NCAA history. Winning every award imaginable Harris is truly the over achiever, he needs to be to catch the eye of NFL scouts coming from such a small school. As a middle linebacker, he is a prototype in my opinion at 5’11 240 plus, the question can he cover?

Development Areas- His combine numbers were pedestrian at 4.73 in the 40 yards and 18 reps of 225, and I still wonder if he can cover, however to his benefit most Mike backers are not asked to provide too much coverage in the NFL.

Summary- I get the feeling the Harris is a boom or bust type here. I think he will boom, starting out providing depth and possibly move into a starting role eventually. One thing I truly stand by is that no matter where you played production is king!

  1. Keevan Lucas WR/ 5’9 190 lbs. / Tulsa University/ Abilene, Texas
Photo Credit: Tulsa World/Brett Rojo

There is not a player on this list that is more deserving of being drafted than Lucas, losing his mother and grandmother in the same week due to illness and stroke. However, Keevan turned his tragedy into treasure by accepting a scholarship to T.U. Lucas was one of TU’s earlier elite recruits in the past couple of years as 4 star WR coming out of High school, he chose Tulsa because he could play early and they did not discriminate on him due to his height.

Strengths- Good route runner, soft hands, plays bigger than his height, reminds me of Sterling Shepard who plays for the Giants. Great instincts saw him make some great plays out of broken plays

Development Areas- overemphasizes on running routes, has had some injuries during his time at T.U. that could scare off some teams.

Summary- Will be a day 3 steal, has to want it takes to play in the NFL, and being overlooked because of height will only make him more hungry, see Wes Welker.

5.  Jessamen Dunker OT/ 6’5 290 lbs. / Tennessee State University/ Boynton Beach, Florida

Photo Credit: SBNOL.com

Jessamen is a prototypical NFL offensive linemen, he has excelled at both Tackle and guard earning Ohio Valley Conference honors at both positions. He very athletic running a sub 5 flat forty yard dash at the NFL combine

Strengths- As I said earlier Jessamen is extremely athletic, that is what leaps out on his film! The fact that he played multiple positions will give him value due to some team’s lack of offensive line production. Jessamen’s frame is still slight to me even at 298, which mean he could add another 15 pounds!

Developmental Areas- Had some disciplinary trouble that caused him to leave the University of Florida, and transfer to Tennessee State. The level of competition is considered a step down from them the SEC

Summary- Jessamen’s athleticism and SEC pedigree give him NFL caliber validation, but his past drama issues may hurt his draft stock. But whichever team pick should be happy.

  1. 4. Jordan Evans MLB / 6’3 235 lbs. / University of Oklahoma/ Norman, Oklahoma
Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

This young man is truly a good example of maximizing your talent. Coming out of high school as 6’2 205 pound running back and safety, Evans was not middle linebacker material. However, he had two intangibles he could run and was not afraid to hit someone. OU brought Evans in bulked him up and turned into a solid inside linebacker.

Strengths- Evans is one of the best pass coverage inside backers I’ve seen in a while. Evans was recruited to OU while they ran a 3-4 defense, he was able to use his coverage skills from his high School years as a safety to excel at inside linebacker. His coverage instincts paid off well for him his senior year yielding him 4 interceptions and 2 ran back for touchdowns. At 6’3 235 he is prototype NFL size and he ran 4.59 at OU’s pro day which is great speed for a Middle Linebacker.

Developmental Areas- Evans is not a physical as some teams in the NFL would like, also needs to read QB’s better. Jordan played one of his worse games against Pat Mahomes (who would have made my list but his stock is quickly rising) of Texas Tech this year because he didn’t trust his instincts.

Summary- Jordan will make a team happy on day 2 of the draft. He has the tools; he just needs to be coached by a pro. He wowed scouts at OU’s pro so I believe he can make a splash in the draft this year. His coverage skills are pretty good and he willed himself to play well by the end of the season.

  1.  Dan Skipper Jr. OT / 6’9 310 lbs. / University of Arkansas/ Arvada, Colorado
Photo Credit: 247Sports.com

Skipper has always been an intriguing prospect due to his size alone; however going to Arkansas may have been the best decision for him. Skipper was a top prospect coming out of high school and chose Arkansas over some great schools. During that time Arkansas hired Bret Bielema from Wisconsin a coach known for his run-heavy offensive lines. Bielema’s run-first offense made Skipper a better player.

Strengths- Long prototypical frame built to play Tackle in the league. Does well with edge run blocking, has a good motor you don’t see him get tired often.

Developmental Areas- You don’t see him bend well in pass blocking, can struggle against shorter defensive ends with quick inside moves.

Summary- Skipper is built to play in the NFL, I think right tackle may be is calling for years to come. He will be a late round pick that blossoms if he goes to the right organization.

  1. Chidobe Awuzie CB/ 6’0 190 lbs./ Colorado University/ San Jose CA.
Photo Credit: CLIFF GRASSMICK/Daily Camera

Chidobe Awuzie is probably the highest rated draft prospect that you have never heard of. Projected to go in the first two rounds of this year’s draft Awuzie is the archetype of what an NFL corner should be standing 6 feet tall and weighing over two hundred pounds. Chidobe is more than just a big corner he also has some speed running a 4.43 forty yard dash at the NFL combine.

Strengths- Smooth cover corner, who can hit if he has to (as evidenced by the picture above) played against good receivers in the PAC-12, so he is no stranger to good competition.

Developmental Areas– Though he played against good competition he struggled against elite players I watched him play against James Washington (remember that name) of Oklahoma State in last year’s Alamo Bowl and was abused by Washington he simply could not cover him. Also making sure he is recovered from his injuries from last season.

Summary- Chidobe has the measurables NFL scouts drool over and a good film to go with it; he has to recover from his performance in Alamo bowl once he gets into camp if he can do that I see a starting nickel position at least for him.

  1. Tarik Cohen RB/ 5’6 180 lbs. / North Carolina A&T Univ. / Bunn N.C.
Photo Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Now I know what I said about this not being a Top Ten list and listing these players in no particular order, but if there was a true number one sleeper it would this guy right here! Tarik Cohen is a monster! A great football player in high school every major program in the state overlooked him except for the North Carolina A&T Aggies, a Historically Black College in Greensboro, N.C. Cohen is lightening in a bottle, a small running back in the mold Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren Sproles, and the legendary Barry Saunders. Cohen Cuts on a dime and leaves 2 nickels, his play in National HBCU championship game against Grambling last season made me a believer.

Strengths- As I said before Cohen is cat quick with good speed, catches well out of the backfield, all-time leading rusher in the Middle Eastern Athletic Conference history, put up over 1000 yards all four years at A&T.

Developmental Areas- Can take unnecessary hits fighting for extra yardage, and often is tackled for a loss trying to extend plays. Some may field the competition he played against in the MEAC was less than.

Summary- Cohen is a special player that you don’t see very often, regardless of his size he is magic with the football in his hand. In the right situation, he could contend for rookie of the year honors.

The 2017 Mazda 6 GT: Stopping Traffic and Getting Attention #DriveMazda #DriveShop

The 2017 Mazda 6 GT: Stopping Traffic and Getting Attention

So it was a very nice day for February day in Maryland, considering that around this time of the year we are normally buried in 20 plus inches of snow. It was a normal day in the Stephens home the kids were playing, the wife was cooking and I was relaxing, that translates to watching sports or reading.

My wife asked me to run to the grocery store to grab a few things for what she was cooking and of course, I was like sure, can’t refuse to go to the store knowing the rewards that would await when my wife finished cooking. So I throw on my shoes, grab my coat, and go to the bookshelf to get my keys; instead of grabbing my keys a little voice said: “take the Mazda”. I put my keys down a grabbed the keys to Mazda 6.

The 2017 Mazda 6 is the swiss army knife of sedans, what you could call a crossover vehicle. On the outside, the 6 is a stylish sedan that can compete with a Mercedes C-Class or BMW 5 series. The lines on the car are clean yet trendy and the front grill is aggressive but classic, picture a Mustang and Audi having a baby.

Inside your have supple white leather with black piping, a white headliner accompanied with a sunroof, a leather-wrapped dash, and touchscreen media center with a seven-inch display screen. From a person that has driven some nice cars for the price point, Mazda 6 always exceeds my expectations.

So we have it established you get the style of a mid-series luxury sedan in this car but what about the what’s the under the hood? Here Mazda comprises and gives you an eco-friendly 2.5 liter 4 cylinder with sky-active technology, so you won’t get a robust V6 here but the 4 cylinder pushes out 184 horsepower and with 6-speed sport mode, the Mazda 6 changes gears smoothly and accelerates like a sports car. The front wheel drive is great for getting the car up steep hills and hatchback makes for extra space giving the 6 an SUV type of feel.

Photo Credit: Mazda USA

So back to my story, I grab the 6 keys head downstairs and get in the car. Turn up the music and head to the grocery store. I pull up the grocery store and park in the loading zone (my wife hates that by the way) because I’m only to grab a few items. One of the store workers walks outside sees me getting out of the car and says “whew! What year is that it looks like a spaceship!” I say “it’s a 2017, pretty nice right?” He said “Nice? That car is beautiful I have to have one of those!” I said thanks clicked the alarm and walk inside leaving him outside admiring the car.

Taking the road less traveled is a breeze with the @mazdausa CX6 Grand Touring. #drivemazda #driveshop

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Everywhere we went from taking my son to a birthday to going to my in-laws for Sunday fellowship people stopped and looked. The Mazda 6 is aging like fine wine, getting better each year.

We enjoyed riding around in the car for the week we had it. Although it’s too small for our family of six, it’s a great car. It would make a perfect work vehicle, first car for a teen, college-aged student, or recent college graduate. It’s also a perfect ride for seniors with ample trunk space for anything you plan to carry around with you.

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We celebrated my wife’s birthday in February, and she snapped a few shots with the car sporting her new haircut and color. She was impressed with the cupholders and charging ports since she likes being connected to her social media channels for her blog. Even the kids when around bragging (sharing) about the new ride to their friends. They even brought a few of the neighborhood kids around to sit in the car and get a spin around the parking lot.

It was hard giving back this ride after our week was up since I was the carpool king at work that week. If you’re in the market for a new car be sure to visit the Mazda website to learn more about the 2017 Mazda 6 Grand Touring. The car has an MSRP of $30,695 standard, and the top of the line model which we reviewed has an MSRP of $34,530.

Mitsubishi Mirage G4 Review – Perfect for College Students and Young Professionals

Mitsubishi Mirage G4 Review – Perfect for College Students and Young Professionals

For the past year, I’ve had the pleasure to review vehicles for Drive Shop, and the Mitsubishi 2017 Mirage G4 SE sedan is definitely a vehicle that stands out. A well-priced economy car that is minimal on features but great on gas mileage. The car starts at just under 17k, and looking at it, you see a small yet trendy automobile that does what Mitsubishi is known for, handle wear and tear all maintaining the high of mechanical performance that company with the 3 diamonds in their logo stands by.

When I first saw the Mirage I remembered the earlier version of the car from my youth, a stylish mid-sized car that would be akin today’s Nissan Altima. However, the new Mirage is a lot smaller, more like a compact car. Being a bigger guy the ride was not that comfortable, but the stylish touchscreen media outlet which served as the focal point of the convenience features of this car which was pretty cool. So after settling in for the first time and finding my favorite radio station, I was ready to ride.

The Mirage G4 rides smooth considering its a smaller car Mitsubishi’s 12-valve 3 cylinder engine. Acceleration is mostly smooth and the car shifts well between gears. For a smaller car, it has good trunk space and seats 4 average sized people comfortably. Of course, the gas mileage in the Mirage is phenomenal. The convenience features such as the 6.5” display media screen equipped with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, push button start, and Bluetooth hands-free phone.

This Mirage G4 sedan priced at $16,995 new off the showroom floor represents a car that matches several groups of people.  Group one the kid in high school who gets good grades and you want to reward them with a brand new car for all of their hard work and efforts. Group two the young professional fresh out of college and looking to change the world but wants to make economically sound decisions. Group three the senior citizen that is looking for a nice looking compact option that is dependable and can get them from point A to point B with no worry.

All and all the Mirage G4 is not high on the bells and whistles but was created to do what a car is supposed to do. Get you where you need to be safe, on time and efficiently.

To learn more about the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 visit their website for additional features, safety specs, and more.

Disclosure: Thanks to Mitsubishi and Drive Shop for providing the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 on loaner to facilitate this review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

A LONG OVERDUE ROAD TRIP – PART TWO

A LONG OVERDUE ROAD TRIP – PART TWO

After getting a fresh haircut by my fraternity  brother Jamaal we headed to another frat brother’s house, he hosted several brothers during homecoming weekend. When Ryan and I arrived we were greeted by Ken, his wife Sabrina, and a host of fraternity brothers.  In an instant it started to feel like old times.

Conversations started about our time on the yard (campus), our achievements, our brawls, but most importantly our epic parties. African-American fraternities and sororities pride themselves on serving their community through volunteerism, partnering with other community organizations, along with assisting with projects and youth mentoring, but we still are still fraternities so we love to party. So many of our stories included talks about late nights and early mornings. It was truly great to see so many of my frat brothers and catch up on how their families are doing, their career aspirations, and their plans for the future.

So after laughing about stories our and fraternity, university, and friends; we drove down to LU for the Step-Show.  Step-Shows are competitions of rhythmic dance and synchronized foot movements normally set around a theme (see Stomp the Yard or School Daze). Amongst greeks they are very serious competitions and the winners earn bragging rights until homecoming the next year.  My fraternity went first and the steps are stellar, which is to expected from my fraternity (Phi Beta Sigma) as we are known for a high level and complex stepping.

The chapter step team does a Scooby Doo theme which was quite entertaining. In the end my chapter won for the best fraternity so it was good night. Afterward we planned on going out to an after party, but we got back from the step show and started talking and reminiscing  and realized it was 1AM in the morning. We all decided to just keep talking and enjoying each others company until we got sleepy.

I woke around 9AM, grabbed some leftover barbecue for breakfast, and started talking again. Nothing like great conversation and that was the theme for the weekend. My other frat brothers Ryan, Alfred, and Keith joined in discussing everything from jobs, kids, to our faith. After breakfast we got dressed and headed to the yard for the homecoming festivities.

Normally homecoming day looks like this; the homecoming Parade, the pregame battle of the Bands, food vendors, live music, and a lot of conversation! Now mind you it’s been a long time since I’ve gone to homecoming so it really felt good. I immediately noticed all the changes to campus, I had seen a lot of them on videos and social media but to see them in person those videos and pictures didn’t do them justice. First I noticed the Student Center had been expanded to two levels, a new Physical therapy building had been added, and numerous other projects I saw during my time there.


We parked and I immediately ran into old classmates, teammates, fellow greeks, and student leaders that I had not seen in years. I took me an extra hour to make a 15 minute walk because of being stopped for conversation, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Made it to our fraternity bench and caught up with more fraternity brothers, sorority sisters (Zeta Phi Beta) and numerous friends, wives, husbands, and children. The day was just underway, had a chance to speak with a university president Dr. Kent Smith we had a great conversation about his vision for the university and the new changes that were underway. I even saw my advisor from my term as Freshman Class President Mr. Lawrence, had a great conversation about books to read and stories from my freshmen year.

Headed to the game and saw my Lions play. I admit I was worried at first but in the 4th quarter the pulled out the win in true Langston Lion fashion!

After the game my frat brother Keith and I went to visit Dr. and Mr. Clark. Dr. Joann Clark was the Dean of our honor’s program at Langston and probably one of the sweetest women I have ever met in my life. Her husband Mr. Lester Clark who was also a professor at LU, have lived in small town of Langston for years, so whenever I am in town I always go by their home. After spending time with them and grabbing some great food we headed back to campus for couple of minutes and then went back to Ken’s house in OKC. Once we got back we ate and then got ready to go out. Some good friends of mine Marc and Kerry were throwing an afterparty and some of fraternity brothers and I brought a table. Enjoyed the music, had some great drinks, and got to talk more classmates and friends I had not seen in years.

 

The next day Ryan and I hoped in the CX-3 drove about an hour and a half northeast to my hometown of Tulsa so I could see my friends and family there. Got there around noon and started the rounds around town to see some of my neighborhood landmarks including my grandfather’s park, Langston’s Tulsa campus, my childhood home, and the historic Greenwood Ave also known as “Black Wall Street” because it produced more African-American millionaires than any other neighborhood in the country.

Then went by one of my best friends Devin’s home. He and my other longtime best friend Marco were there. We watched football, listened to music, talked about music, and enjoyed the day.

Later on that day my mother Janice, brother Jeremy, nephew Jeremiah, and my brother’s girlfriend Diamond all drove in from Omaha to catch up with me. I was very happy to see them all. I did not know it would be my last time seeing my little brother Jeremy alive. Last Friday (12/09/2016) he passed away in his sleep due to health complications.

So I am very thankful for my time home also thankful Mazda and Drive shop for providing my the Mazda CX-3 as a great car to get us around Texas and Oklahoma for a great weekend.  I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I did without having the Mazda CX-3 to drive around and spend time with friends and family.  It was an amazing road trip.  

The CX-3 has a starting price of $19,660 for the sport model and increase depending on upgrade or model choices.  It’s a compact ride that’s perfect for teens, college students, young professionals, newlyweds, and even small families or retirees.  To learn more about the Mazda CX-3 visit their website, and be sure to connect with them on Facebook & Twitter.

A LONG OVERDUE ROAD TRIP – Part One

A LONG OVERDUE ROAD TRIP

This is Part One in a two-part series documenting my trip home for Homecoming this year at my alma mater Langston University.

Anybody that knows me, knows that I am very proud of everything that has had a hand in making me the person I am. Being born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, spending time with my family in Tampa Florida and Atlanta Georgia, and traveling and living in numerous cities across the country. However the one the thing that ranks high atop that list is my Alma Mater John Mercer Langston University. Named for the 1st elected U.S. congressman in post civil war history from the state of Virginia, and the great uncle of the legendary Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes (whom many confuse the name of my university for) Langston is a gem in the state of Oklahoma.

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Founded 1897 through the United States 1890 Land Grant Act Langston was 1 of 19 Historically Black College and Universities founded during that period. HBCUs are institutions of higher education that were either founded for or by African-Americans during a time of segregation when “separate by equal” was standard. Many of these university now flourish with diverse student enrollment population of people of all races and religious affiliation. Langston means so much to me because it represents a time in my life where I came into my own as a young man, learned who I was, who I wanted to become, and most of all learned from the people at L.U. who saw potential and cared enough to develop it.

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To say this trip home was big for me would be an understatement, I hadn’t been back to Langston since 2006 Homecoming and I had not been back home to Tulsa since my grandmother’s funeral in 2012.  So to touch Oklahoma’s red dirt felt wonderful!

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I flew into Dallas so I could pick up my Fraternity Brother Ryan. Ryan and I came in together playing football at LU he was from Oakland and I was a local boy from Tulsa. We didn’t talk much until we both decide to join Phi Beta Sigma, Fraternity Inc. at the same time then we became the best of friends. Ryan and I were roommates at LU and I am Godfather to oldest son.

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Landing in Dallas I went to the parking spot to pick up my car and I was pleasantly surprised to see the Mazda CX-3 in a brilliant royal blue (One of my frat colors).   I put his address in the GPS and cruised to his apartment in Fort Worth. The ride was smooth and I enjoyed listening to local Dallas radio station 97.9, after making it to his apartment I went to Jack in the Box (another Texas favorite) to grab a burger and went in and laid it down for the night. Next day Ryan made breakfast and we hit the road.

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I think the drive to Oklahoma City was one of my favorite parts of the road trip, we talk about life, our kids, our careers, our faith, and of course our time in college! The classes, the parties, football, the frat, and just college life overall.

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As soon as we got to OKC I ran to see my other frat Jamaal another teammate of ours at LU who is now a barber that runs local barbershop called Dixon’s. I didn’t get my hair cut on purpose because barbers back home take their time on a haircut and make you look and feel like a million bucks. Jamal had me fresh and ready to hit the yard (campus)…

Be sure to come back for the second part of my series about my time at Homecoming.  Thanks to Mazda and DriveShop for providing the Mazda CX-3 for my epic road trip from Dallas to Oklahoma City.  The CX-3 has a starting price of $19,660 for the sport model and increase depending on upgrade or model choices.  It’s a compact ride that’s perfect for teens, college students, young professionals, newlyweds, and even small families or retirees.  To learn more about the Mazda CX-3 visit their website, and be sure to connect with them on Facebook & Twitter.

MISSION Athletecare’s RadiantActive Review – Holiday Gift Guide Feature

MISSION Athletecare’s RadiantActive Review – Holiday Gift Guide Feature

I have been an athlete my whole life, started at age 7 playing soccer and went all the way to playing 3 years of college football at my alma mater Langston University. The one thing I have always realized about sports is that the technology evolves just like the players. When I was a kid (1990) Reebok’s Pump basketball shoe was the state of art shoe technology. A shoe that pushed air into the sneaker’s tongue to create a better secure fit was unheard of, Reebok laughed all the way to the bank with this revolutionary now iconic shoe.

Now fast forward 26 years later and many great athletic technologies have emerged since then. You have Nike’s Air Max bubble, Adidas Adizero lightweight performance shoe, and Under Armour’s performance workout gear. The advances in performance athletic clothing is amazing, synthetic fibers that stretch, push sweat away from the body etc., are much better those tight fighting thermal shirts and track tights I wore my senior year at Tulsa Central High School during our playoff run in November.

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So I was more than happy to find that Mission Active reached out to my wife to request to be apart of her annual Holiday Gift Guide. Mission Active is a next generation athletic performance apparel company that is making great strides in the advancement of sport training clothing.

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I was sent the Radiant Active winter line that is designed to retain and remove sweat for the body and keep the body warm in cold temperatures.

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As someone who is a gym rat, I work out 5 to 6 days a week for 30 minutes to two hours a day, I go through a lot of work out gear. I have it all, Adidas, Nike, Under Armour, New Balance, etc, I am not picky at all. However I notice differences om the Mission Active apparel.

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The fit is outstanding as a bigger guy ( 5’11 305 lbs) I always have issue with base layer tights and shirts fitting properly.  Too tight around the thigh and with the shirt the neck gets stretched because my shoulders are broad. With the Radiant Active apparel I noticed that it did not shift or move when I ran or lifted. It also worked as advertised by pulling sweat from my body and keeping me warm.

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Also with the base layer shirt and tights I was sent the light and midweight performance gloves and beanie. I prefer the midweight glove because it has wrist straps and I like those when I bench press to give my arms added support. Overall the Mission Active gear is excellent as a matter of fact I don’t really wear my other athletic performance gear anymore, Mission active has become my favorite.

Product Highlights and Prices:

  •  Baselayer Tights, $49.99:
    • Compression Fit
    • Breathable Mesh Panels
    • Odor Resistant
    • Lightweight
  • VaporActive Baselayer Top, $49.99:
    • Fitted Design
    • Breathable Mesh Panels
    • Odor Resistant
    • 4 Way Stretch
  • Lightweight Performance Gloves, $29.99:
    • Proprietary Heating Technology
    • Lightweight Insulation
    • Touchscreen Compatible
    • 4 way stretch
    • Silicone Palm Grip
    • Lightweight Fabric
    • Touchscreen Compatible
    • Moisture Wicking
  • Midweight Performance Gloves, $39.99:
    • Proprietary Heating Technology
    • Lightweight Insulation
    • Touchscreen Compatible
    • Adjustable Hook & Loop Closure
    • Silicone Palm Grip
    • Nose Wipe
    • Moisture Wicking
    • Water Resistant
  •  Balaclava, $39.99:
    • Moisture Wicking
    • Laser Cut Mouth Ventilation
    • Fitted Construction 
  • Neck Gaiter, $29.99:
    • Moisture Wicking
    • 4 Way Stretch
    • Wind Resistant
    • Dimensions: 14” x 10”
  • Performance Scarf, $19.99:
    • Lightweight Wicking Material
    • Fleece Lined for Comfort and Soft Touch
    • Loop Construction for secure Athletic Fit
  • Headband, $19.99
  • Beanie, $24.99

Visit the MISSION website to learn more about this line of products and all they have to offer.  These product are perfect gifts for the fitness lovers on your gift list this year.

The 2016 Mazda 3: All of the Places We Will Go! #DriveMazda #DriveShop #ad

The 2016 Mazda 3: All of the Places We Will Go!

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Over the past week I had the chance to drive the 2016 Mazda 3 and I can say I was pleasantly surprised with many aspects of the car. First I will start with size, I am about 6 feet and 300 pounds and I normally do not like driving smaller or compact cars but the room inside of the 3 was deceivingly large. The cabin was large enough for myself and 3 of my co-workers to head to lunch and all ride in comfort.

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Secondly I love the handling and the sport feature. I normally drive SUV’s or mini vans so I don’t get to open up the gas and push the pedal, but on my rides to work let’s get just say I enjoyed driving it a lot! Anybody in the greater Baltimore area is familiar with the 695 beltway around the city. When traffic is light the expressway is quite open, and I really had fun popping open the sunroof and turning up the Bose sound system and taking the drive. I liked driving it so much that we took it to a couple of other places…

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Every year with head to the beach to celebrate my summer children’s (Kennedi, Trey, and J.B.) birthdays as they all are in May and June. So this year instead of taking our normal mini van we took the Mazda 3 out to the beach and the kids loved it. I loved the blue tooth music feature it let me access song files from my phone and play them in the car. My wife is now a fan of Bryson Tiller’s Trapsoul album because this.  The touch screen navigation was flawless and the Sirius XM radio kept us all entertained on every ride.

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When the cold weather breaks we make a drive to the Loch Raven reservoir about once a month, it’s a beautiful hidden gem in the Parkville/ Towson area. We take a private one way road to get there but it is filled with scenery of rushing streams, lush greenery, and amazing views. Once we arrive, we drive through the reservoir gate and then some times we park and go for a walk, or sometimes we just keep driving and take in the beautiful views along the ride. The 3 was great for the trip it handled the sharp turns, mini dips and drops like a pro.

Overall I was supremely satisfied with the Mazda 3, after looking at the size I was  not pleased but after I drove it I fell in love.  A great driving car with many cool features and great safety features also. I didn’t think I would want to drive a small car but the Mazda 3 definitely has me rethinking that…

This 2016 Mazda 3 in Soul Red Metallic has a top of the line package.  This model has a MSRP of $30,270, the starting price of the Mazda 3 is $26,495.  To learn more visit MazdaUSA.com

We received the 2016 Mazda 3 in Soul Red Metallic for a week-long review from Drive Shop and Mazda.  Any opinions expressed are our own.

The 2016 Kia Optima SXL: A Driver’s Delight #DriveKia #DriveShop #ad

The 2016 Kia Optima SXL: A Driver’s Delight

Over the past year of my wife receiving cars to review KIA has done nothing but change my perception of the quality of automobiles it produces and shows that they are serious about being one the flagship car companies of the future. In the early 2000’s I saw KIA as a cost-effective car that offered little to no frills in exchange for a car that ran forever. The early KIA cars were built for substance but not style in my opinion. Fast forward 15 plus years and KIA is progressing towards being one of the best cars for the value on the market. The 2016 KIA Optima SXL is one of the most fun cars I’ve even had the pleasure to drive.

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KIA has spared nothing in this car, (which really has me excited to see their top car the K900) and it shows in the key areas it matters most.

Safety

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Easily access safety features on the driver's side panel
Easily access safety features on the driver’s side panel

Working to provide one of the safest cars on the road, KIA in putting their money where their mouth is in the 2016 Optima SXL Turbo. The 360 parking camera shows you every angle of the car during reverse parking, and keeps you from having to turn your head around to look out the window. The automatic braking feature is excellent and KIA also offers a drivers knee air bag to protect the knees and lower leg of the driver in case an accident occurs.  The traction control feature is excellent and alerts you when it has been disabled due to excessive rain.

I just loved how this blue jumped out at you.
I just loved how this blue jumped out at you.
The details on this car was incredible, like these door handles that match the exterior silver trim.
The details on this car was incredible, like these door handles, and the panel that matches the exterior
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The Kia Optima has lots of leg room.
Top quality speaker sound
Top quality speaker sound

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Wow factor

My co-workers marveled at the Optima SXL, I have never heard “That’s a KIA?!” so much in life! But it was well earned. The Optima in the beautiful electric blue pops out at you. Accented with those sexy red brake shoes it intrigues you and take your imagination with it. The interior makes you feel like you’re the pilor of a fighter jet, a very luxurious fight jet at that. With a full panoramic roof and Harman Kardon audio system the car sets the mood especially for night driving. The turbo has a nice kick but accelerate very smoothly, and highway driving is truly an adventure.

The trunk is very roomy and had enough space for our groceries for two weeks for a family of 6.
The trunk is very roomy and had enough space for our groceries for two weeks for a family of 6.
You can move your seat, forward, backward, up, down, and even adjust the seat back
You can move your seat, forward, backward, up, down, and even adjust the seat back
These quilted seats were the talk of the car.  Everyone loved them
These quilted seats were the talk of the car. Everyone loved them

Kia Optima (1)

Overall opinion
The 2016 KIA Optima SXL is a car that rivals luxury sedans that not in it’s price range, and destroys everything in its
car class. The car has great safety and luxury features with an eco car price, and the performance under the hood with not disappoint. At 35,700.00 fully loaded this car will blow you away and with KIA’s top of the line warranty you won’t have to ever stress about repairs and maintenance. KIA is winning with the 2016 Optima SXL and you will love every minute of driving it.  To learn more about the 2016 Kia Optima SXL visit Kia’s website.

The OK Gent’s 12 NFL Draft Sleepers

The OK Gent’s 12 NFL Draft Sleepers

At this time of year I always get excited about the possibilities of watching these young players have their futures sat out before them. Regardless of good team, bad team, or horrible team, being drafted into the NFL is life changing. The power the media and sports writers hold in how these kids are perceived is overwhelming at times. Tapping someone to be “the next” or “the best” either makes coal or diamonds. However because some kids who come from small schools are may have been slow developers are often seen in the same light as the kids who are considered as perennial first rounders.

Special thanks to my nephew Jailen K. for helping me piece this article together.

With that being said here are 12 names you need to know that I feel will have an immediate or significant impact in the NFL but are not seen as elite or 1st round talent… (In no particular order)

12. Evan Boehm Center Missouri 6’3 315 lbs

Evan Boehm (77) prepares to hike the ball to freshman quarterback Drew Lock as the Tigers push into the third down near the south endzone, Thursday evening. The Tigers scored 13 points total against the Bulldogs.
Evan Boehm (77) prepares to hike the ball to freshman quarterback Drew Lock as the Tigers push into the third down near the south endzone, Thursday evening. The Tigers scored 13 points total against the Bulldogs.  Photo credit: University of Missouri Football

This kid is a player, smart like a center should be, uses wits to outsmart players when possible and not having to maul players with his strength, but strong enough guy that once he get his hands on you, you know it. Good in pass block protection and better in better run blocking but he will make his money pulling and blocking players in space which I believe he may be the best center in the draft at. He will need to get stronger to compete with bullish nose guards in the NFL but with work in weight room he can get better there.

Prediction– 2nd to 3rd rounder who can start for a team with a need and develop into a possible multi-year starter

11. Pharoh Cooper WR, South Carolina 5’11 208 lbs

Cooper
Photo Credit: South Carolina Football

I turn on the tape and this wideout is electric! Reminds me Randal Cobb catches sweeps out the backfield, throws touchdown passes. He attacks the ball at its highest point and snatches it out of the air, plays physical and makes the catch after absorbing a big hit. He will need to work on his routing running skills and possibly learning a huge NFL playbook, but I believe he will be a valued asset to whoever picks him up.

Prediction– Strong 3rd-4th round prospect, I believe can outside but is an ideal slot. He will make an NFL roster because of his diverse skill set.

10. Jordan Howard RB, Indiana 6’1 225 lbs

Howard
Photo Credit: Indiana Football

The Jordan Howard story has always been about him being hidden gem, so it’s only fitting that it continues to the NFL. Jordan started off at University of Alabama Birmingham because he suffered an injury his junior year of High School and many of the major powers backed off. When UAB’s football program folded he headed north to Indiana university and set himself up as one of the best running back’s in the big 10. A 220 plus pound bruiser with good speed to match the kid will be a good player for years to come. He will have to continue his progress of learning to play at a high level versus the best competition in the world in the

 Prediction– Would be great in a backfield rotation with another back, but is sturdy enough to be a feature back in he needs to. I believe he has starter potential maybe even a pro bowl or two.

9. Keyarris Garrett WR, Tulsa 6’4 215

Garrett
Photo Credit: Tulsa Football

Being a Tulsa native, I watched this young man play all season. I can say he does what a WR needs to do very well and if he can progress and get better at other aspects of his game he can be real threat as a number 2 or 3 in the NFL. Garrett tracks the ball better than most of the other wide outs in this draft and separate when a good QB leads him with a proper throw.
Often called a poor man’s Calvin Johnson you can see why he is compared to him. Standing around 6’4 and close to 220 pounds, he’s a possession receiver in every sense of the word. He needs to work on his yards after catch (YAC), for his size he can be taken down too easy after the catch, almost like he is trying not to get hurt. He needs to add 10 pounds of muscle and the confidence to deliver a blow.

Prediction– If Keyarris can stay healthy he can play in a NFL rotation and be a viable option in the NFL team

8. Yannick Ngakoue DE/OLB, Maryland 6’2 250 lbs

Yannick
Photo Credit: University of Maryland Football

I coached high school football in Washington DC for about 2 years, and had the pleasure to catch this kid play. He had one of the best first steps off the snap of the ball I had ever seen. He translated that to being Gatorade National Defensive Player of the year his senior year of high school. He then went to Maryland and became their all time sack leader and finished this past season tied for second nationally in total sacks for the season. Extremely athletic with good speed and the aforementioned quick first step. I believe he can contribute immediately. The only knock I can see on this young man is the can he cover in space? The NFL knocks his height but as a guy who was an undersized LB/DE in college, I say that the bottom line is he makes plays!

Prediction– They will stand him up as a 3-4 outside linebacker, have him drop 10 pounds and he will start by his 3rd season in the NFL, maybe earlier. I can see double-digit sacks for Yannick as his game transcends superb to the NFL

7 . Christian Hackenburg QB, Penn St. 6’4 225 lbs.

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Photo Credit: Penn State Football

It’s hard to call a QB at one of college football’s traditional blue blood powers a sleeper but to me Hackenburg has been on roller coaster ride that can hopefully end in the NFL. Christian came to Penn St. highly recruited and impressed early earning Freshman All-American honors throwing over 20 touchdowns.
Performance fluctuation and injury made his next 2 years in Nittany Lion land go up and down.

Hackenburg is a gambler and makes throws he shouldn’t at times, he can too antsy in the pocket.

Prediction – Hackenburg has been blessed with a cannon but also has the feet to pick up yardage and get him out of tight situations. With the right QB coach he can go into the NFL as backup and grow into a starter like Brady did under Bledsoe. Perfect team in my opinion… the Dallas Cowboys

6. Javon Hargrave DL, South Carolina State 6’1 310 lbs

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Photo Credit: South Carolina State Football

As a former Football player from a historically black university, I have seen many extremely talented players get overlooked because of “lack of development” or “being raw” so watching Hargrave perform is a breath of fresh air. At 6’1 300 plus with speed, strength and quickness I see him prototypical 3-technique or outside shoulder Defensive tackle. 16 sacks at any level is spectacular and to see that happen from a player with this size, and athleticism is special.

Hargrave will have to adjust to the speed of the NFL and learn to adjust to NFL playbook.

Prediction – I see Aaron Donald type numbers for this young man, he reminds me of Warren Sapp.

5. KJ Dillon DB/ Hybrid, West Virginia 6’1 210 lbs.

Dillon
Photo Credit: Univ of West Virginia Football

Dillon has been an enigma to me he is more physical than most DBs I’ve seen in quite sometime, but he tends to make mistakes that a player with his talent should not make. Athletically he is one of the best prospects in this draft. As I previously stated he is very physical I believe he can play in the box as a LB type but he has the speed to cover most WR’s one on one. That is gift that many defensive backs wish they had!

Dillon will need to find a team that will utilize his skill set and let him develop as a player, if he can get 2 to 3 years he may be worth it.

Prediction – A contributor early on (1-2 seasons) on special teams, could anchor a defense by season 3, will need time to develop

4. Kentrell Brothers LB, Mizzou 6’0 245 lbs.

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Photo Credit: Mizzou Football

Brothers is truest example of what growth and a quality strength and conditioning program can do. An undersized LB out high school in the state of Oklahoma, Brothers had speed and great instincts to tackle anything moving. Because he was not considered ideal size he was shunned by in state powers Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and decided to head north the University of Missouri. Each year he has grown and become more productive and boomed up to 245 pounds. Brothers has produced more than 100 tackles in 3 of his 4 seasons at Mizzou in a run heavy conference like the SEC that shows production and durability.

Kentrell must not rely so heavy on his instincts, become a film student at the next level as most schemes are designed to confuse inside linebackers. He must learn to always deliver an aggressive blow when tackling and stop using body leverage to get down ball carriers.

Prediction – Brothers has the potential to play for a longtime and have a productive and consistent career like another Oklahoma native Curtis Lofton (Falcons, Saints, and Raiders). Brothers has all the tools to be a possible pro bowler for at least a few seasons in the NFL he just needs to become a student of the game, and work everyday at getting better.

3. Beau Sandland TE, Montana State 6’4 250 lbs.

Sandland
Photo Credit: Montana State Football

This kid is prototype! A juco kid who is kid athlete, standing at 6’4 and over 250 Sandland can provide as an extra inline blocker takes long strides while running vertical routes, He is a great RAC (run after catch) reciever. He also runs a 4.74 40 which is good speed for a 6’4 250 lb guy. Sandland also has great arm length for the position, which will help him get “jumpballs” against defensive backs which will help him especially in double coverage.

Sandland struggles with making route adjustments against contact which he’ll need to adjust to in order to thrive in a next level offense.

Prediction – Sandland has the tools to become an elite level TE, he just needs to find a system that’ll take the time to develop him into a dominant tight end at the next level.

2. Bronson Kaufusi DE, BYU 6’6 285 lbs.

Bronson Kaufusi takes the ball in for a touchdown against Idaho State. Photo by Natalie Stoker.
Bronson Kaufusi takes the ball in for a touchdown against Idaho State. Photo by Natalie Stoker.

Kaufusi is raw but his upside is tremendous, keyword upside. Kaufusi had 11 sacks in his amazing senior year which also joined by 20 tackles for a loss. Kaufusi plays low for his height and a forward lean which will give him a boost off the line. Kaufusi is great pressuring and pursuing the QB. Kaufusi is 6’6 285 lbs and runs a 4.87 40 time which is average for a guy at the DL position.

Kaufusi is to struggles in coverage as stand up end, in 2014 tried to transition which was not a success so he moved back to D-line.

Prediction – Bronson has all the skills to develop in a Jason Taylor type but he has work on technique

1. Eric Striker LB, Oklahoma 5’11 230 lbs.

Striker
Photo Credit: OU Football

Striker is one of the biggest sleeper’s in this year’s draft he may lack elite NFL LB size he has the skills too make teams overlook that. Striker is a penetrating run stopper and can chase down runners from behind. He has the ability to sniff out plays before the ball is even snapped. Striker also has great hand and feet coördination which will improve positioning after contact. Striker has dynamic hand violence and has the ability to win against larger,longer opponents like offensive tackles and tight ends.

Striker’s slow 40 time may hurt his stock, but in my opinion he plays much faster on game day. Striker is an elite level pass rusher but could be pushed around by tight ends in the NFL if they can get their hands on him because of their size advantage.

Prediction – Striker can make a living being a elite level 3rd down pass rush specialist much like Elvis Dumervil did early in his career. If a team is flexible in their schemes I can see him being used like Deon Buchaneon of the Arizona Cardinals

My Run Wild for Autism Experience

My Run Wild for Autism Experience

John­-Benjamin our 4 year old has brought so much enjoyment to our lives and at the same time made us aware of a subject that we were not informed of before his birth. As of 2014 1 in every 68 children are born on the Autism spectrum, the prevalence of the disease has risen by 119 percent which makes the fast disease disease in the U.S. Of course our lives like most parents with parents who give birth to children on the autism spectrum changed greatly and in many ways I am thankful for that. My wife has become an advocate for autism awareness and support, and we have both studied the disease to gain a better understanding of what it is and how to best support our son.

JB-Shades

One of the ways we support J.B. is through community events. From park festivals to boat rides in the Baltimore Harbor we have taken an active stance to place J.B. around supporters who understand him and are willing to assist in his growth and development. One such event was the Autism Awareness Run, held annually at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore the run was less like a sporting event and more like celebration. It was our first time there, and the Stephens was up early to support our son and brother along with hundreds of other autistic children and adults who came out to participate for this great cause.

Run-Wild-for-Autism

Upon arrival the event staff was friendly and informative (something that can hard to do at 7:30am) they gave us our t­shirts and numbers pointed us to the route. Now there were two options one the competitive 4k run or the family walk, with it being our first year we decided for the family walk, but we have placed the run on our bucket list.

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The first you notice is the amount of family decorated in signs, face paint, custom clothes, and autism paraphernalia to support their family members. It’s very encouraging to see the support and it warmed my heart. While walking I run into two of my former students and their families who inform me they they attend and participate every year.

Run Wild for Autism

Run Wild for Autism

Run Wild for Autism

Run Wild for Autism

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Though most of the animals were still sleeping and tucked away the indoor homes the walking route was still scenic and full of people willing to talk and share their family member’s story with us. After finishing the route you were greeted with applause and fan fare from supporters and other walkers/ runners who have finished the course. This was especially funny to us because our oldest son Trey took off running once we were close to the finish line and instead of going the through the walkers finish line, he made the wrong turn and went through the runner’s finish line to many cheers from the people there!

Poe the Raven

Poe the Raven

After we finished the walk there was a party for the kids and adults, I call it a party because the atmosphere was so energetic and positive. Companies were present with food, ice cream, giveaways, and prizes for drawings. Kids ran around, played games and danced to the DJ.  Overall it was a great day for the Stephens family, a day we will never forget, we are excited and ready to get back and participate this year along with every year after that!!!

Thanks to Pathfinders for Autism for providing our family free spots in the Run Wild for Autism Family Fun Run. Any opinions expressed are my own.  To learn more about Pathfinders for Autism and to donate to their programs, visit their website.  Be sure to save the date for the upcoming race that is scheduled for Sunday, September 25th, 2016.

Philips Norelco Multigroom Pro: Mission Accomplished

Philips Norcelco Multigroom Pro: Mission Accomplished

As a man in my mid-thirties I’m starting to see hair in places that I’ve never seen before. This is a change I do not welcome and will fight vigorously lol. Enter the Philips Norelco Multigroom Pro, the newest endeavor from the classic shaver company that has made a quality reputation producing men’s grooming products. As a African- American man I do not have to shave daily so I don’t use a razor. Razor’s though they provide a clean shave,  they tend to cause severe shaving bumps and ingrown hairs in Black men because our facial is very thick and  coarse and pushing back through the skin can cause serious skin irritation.

Phillips Norelco (3)

I have used clippers (barber trimmers) since I was 17 to shave and they have for the most part served me well. Clippers get close enough for a clean shave without shaving below the skin and causing those bumps that no man wants. So one day well in the bathroom my lovely wife handed me the Philips Norelco Multigroom Pro box and said “here try this.” I looked at the box, the functions, and the features of the shaver and became intrigued, I took it out and gave it a try. I immediately noticed the close shave which I liked, then I realize the changing the head I could trim and even blend my beard, line and clean up my mustache, and get those pesky nose hairs I recently started developing.

Phillips Norelco (6)

Phillips Norelco (5)

Phillips Norelco (8)

All the needed attachments were in the box, along with a plug-in charger to keep the long-lasting lithium-ion battery at full capacity. I really like the turbo feature which makes the shaver motor work hard to push the shaver’s head trough the thick and full hair like a hot a knife through butter.

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Fresh shave using my multi-tool

This is the shaver that wont irritate my skin like a regular razor which means I can use it daily but with the clean shave it provides I may not have to.  Thanks to Philips Norelco for sending the Multigroom Pro for review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

About the Philips Norelco Multigroom Pro

Philips Norelco Multigroom Pro gives you the tools to groom from head to toe. It is water-resistant, turbo-powered, and comes with 9 pieces—a full metal trimmer, body shaver, body trimmer, and adjustable combs with up to 18 length settings-easily styles your face, hair and body. It’s the perfect gift for any guy who doesn’t like to fuss about grooming. With the Multigroom Pro, he has everything he needs in one tool.

My Van Heusen Ultimate Traveler Experience

My Van Heusen Ultimate Traveler Experience

I woke up early to get ready for my interview, and I had mapped everything out. I had my portfolio with my resumes sitting on the bookshelf with my car keys sitting on top. My shoes were polished and socks laid on top, my hair was trimmed and I shaved ready to go. I started to get dressed only to see a stain on my clean white shirt! Apparently my  youngest son decided to wish daddy good luck and touched my shirt with his chocolate covered hands! Nonetheless the show must go on and I needed a shirt ASAP! I had not dropped any of other shirts off to the cleaners, only the shirts I needed to wear over the next few days.

VH Ultimate Traveler Long Sleeve

As I looked through my closet I could not find a shirt to complement the blazer and slacks I wanted to wear. I remember my wife got a Van Heusen dress shirt for me as an early Christmas gift a few weeks before, but it was still in packaging and I was nervous because I knew I would have to iron the shirt which would slow me down for leaving out on time. I grabbed the shirt anyway and I noticed it was called the Traveler and did not require ironing. Seeing that it was wrinkle resistant I became excited and opened the wrapping immediately. I took the shirt and flapped it out and threw it on, and was surprised to see it fit!

Van Huesen (1)

I had stopped wearing Van Heusen after college due to the fit. With the shirt being a gift my wife, she had to estimate the size of the shirt she got it a size small.  I thought it would be too small but surprisingly it fit perfectly. I wore an XXL size shirt in college (35-36 length 181/2 inch neck) and the shirt my wife brought was that size (mind you I have gained roughly 50 lbs since college). But the shirt was a good fit and the wrinkles had virtually disappeared.

Van Huesen (2)

So I finished getting dressed and was out the door, on the drive to the interview I started overthinking possible questions I could be asked and became nervous, I felt myself start perspire, this was the worse thing that could happen. Most dress shirts are not built to withstand sweat but I was surprised that when I got to the interview that I did not have any signs of perspiration on my shirt.

 

So this early Christmas gift was a lifesaver because it was a quick and easy option to pair with my business attire, it was low maintenance,protected me against sweat, and did not need to be ironed.

Van Heusen Traveler Blues Patterned Performance Casual Button-Down Shirt_Blue_Sodalite

The Van Heusen Ultimate Traveler shirt can be purchased at JC Penny’s stores.  The shirt is made with Nanotex®, which uses nanotechnology to transform the molecular structure of fibers, creates fabrics with remarkable performance and comfort, is dominating the apparel fabric market with its stain, soil and odor resistance, while preserving the natural breathability, comfort, hand and durability of apparel textiles.

A Fantastic Voyage #Cloud9Living

A Fantastic Voyage

I will admit before my last few years here in Baltimore my love affair with the City was nonexistent, as a young man from Oklahoma I missed home and I never really opened up to what Baltimore had to offer. Sure I loved that the cities on the east coast were close together can that you could be just about anywhere within five hours. Deep down I always felt like Baltimore got the short end of the stick as opposed to their sister city Washington D.C. and the cities just north (Philadelphia and New York City). Over the past couple of years I have actually got out and experienced what the city has to offer and I am really enjoying it so far.

Spirit of Baltimore

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My latest experience was a day cruise of the Spirit of Baltimore. I have heard great stories about the cruise but I wasn’t really excited about taking the trip. I always wanted to take a voyage cruise to some exotic location spend days at sea and enjoy all the components that a big ship has to offer, but the Spirit of Baltimore was a pleasant surprise. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in August my wife took me to the inner harbor of Baltimore and we shared a beautiful experience.

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The ship boarded promptly at 4:30 pm offering to take a picture before you board. Once on the ship you walk up to the dining floor, you arrive at the host station and are escorted to your seat. While seated you are given the rules and expectations of the ship from the host/DJ who breaks everything down to you in light and humorous way. After rules are established the boat takes off, I had to get my “sea legs” rather quickly on a small cruise ship you feel the waves pretty easy. Once the ship got a couple minutes into the voyage the trip leveled out and I was able to pay attention to the atmosphere around me. I saw couples celebrating anniversaries, families celebrating a loved one’s birthday, and friends just out for a nice summer evening.

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The scenery of the harbor was cool, boat houses, piers and docks, company headquarters ranging from the new athletic apparel giant Under Armour to the classic Domino Sugar plant lined the shore as we moved across the water. After taking in the view it was time to eat! I am no stranger to a meal especially a good one! I really enjoyed the food on the cruise, and was surprised to know that all the food was prepared on the ship’s lower deck. The menu was diverse and tasty, I literally ate my heart out! An assorted buffet of roast beef, roasted chicken, Parmesan encrusted talapia, cheesy pesto pasta, steamed broccoli and more are ready to eat. A salad station with a cheese tray, and wonderful dessert table are an excellent prequel and sequel to your meal

After the meal the DJ turns up the dining room and the party is on! If your not up for dancing  then head up to the top deck for a nice lounge scene with couches, flat screens, and a bar, enjoy the view of the harbor and take in some sun. Overall I really enjoyed my time on the Spirit, the food, environment, and the fresh air on a summer afternoon was a great way to see Baltimore in different and beautiful light. I will be back Spirit of Baltimore, I will be back.

Disclosure: Cloud 9 Living provided us with a Baltimore Dinner Cruise Experience in exchange for our honest review.  Any opinions expressed are our own.

C9 Corporate Logo

Founded in 2005 based on a belief that gift giving should be more than just an obligation, Cloud 9 Living is a small company filled with passionate people offering gifts that show the recipient that you took your time to find something they will truly love and cherish for a lifetime.  Cloud 9 Living has partnered with over 600 “Best in Class’ experience providers to create an experience portfolio of over 2,000 items in 51 regions around the country.  With experiences ranging from thrilling and adventurous to relaxing and cultural, they have something for every taste and every budget.

Biplane Ride Experience - Photo by Cloud 9 Living
Biplane Ride Experience – Photo by Cloud 9 Living

Cloud 9 Living has also partnered with corporate sponsors to provide a new type of incentive or reward for their employees and clients.  Additionally they are part of several of the largest Rewards Programs in the world where members can redeem their points for Cloud 9 Living experiences.

Using the Cloud 9 Living website and services is very easy.  You can choose your experiences based on the different regions.  Once you have selected your experience you purchase and if you are sending as a gift they will handle that as well.  For the gift recipient it’s very easy to redeem their gift certificate for their experience they can either use the Cloud 9 Living booking number or redeem online.  If they choose to redeem online they will be assigned a experience agent that will assist them throughout the entire process from redemption to final booking and even send a reminder close to the experience date.  They offer everything needed to make the process simple and enjoyable.

Ride Along Experience - Photo by Cloud 9 Living
Ride Along Experience – Photo by Cloud 9 Living

The holidays are right around the corner and if you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable gift experience I suggest you check out Cloud 9 Living.  They have gifts for all those people on your list who seem to have everything and right now they are offering my readers a special discount.  Use Code: XMASMUSINGS15 to save $15 off your total order value on Cloud 9 Living.  The code is valid from now until December 31st, 2105.  Limit one code per order.