Injuries robbed two Hometown Heroes from helping their respective football teams when it was needed most.
Lakewood Ranch High alum Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s absence in the bulk of Sunday’s NFC wild-card playoff game in Green Bay keyed the Packers’ rout of the New York Giants.
Simply put, DRC was an integral piece to New York’s pass defense that got shredded by Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers following his early injury.
DRC injured his thigh on the game’s second snap and only returned later in a special teams capacity.
His absence covering the slot and out wide as a menacing corner combo with Pro Bowler Janoris Jenkins was definitely felt.
Randall Cobb operated from the slot on many occasions with Rodgers exploiting New York’s weakness without DRC.
One of DRC’s replacements, Trevin Wade, allowed a perfect passer rating into his coverage, according to Pro Football Focus.
That highlighted the G-Men’s woes against one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks in Rodgers.
Meanwhile, Monday’s College Football Playoff came to a conclusion with Clemson’s 35-31 victory over Alabama for the program’s first national title since 1981.
The instant classic could have gone either way, especially when Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts’ late touchdown appeared to give Bama the decisive edge. However, former IMG Academy star Bo Scarbrough was a key loss for Bama. Clemson erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter with Scarbrough sidelined.
The Crimson Tide running back tallied two touchdowns a week after setting an Alabama bowl record against Washington in a national semifinal.
Scarbrough got hurt at a pivotal time for the Tide’s offense, which looked like it was heading for a rout with Scarbrough doing the bulk of the running. Without his physical running style, Alabama’s offense — outside of Hurts’ late touchdown run and a deep touchdown pass on Clemson’s broken coverage — was never the same.
Those two aren’t the only Hometown Heroes. This week’s edition highlights one player that was part of the national championship’s winning team and a swimmer as we gear toward the remainder of the 2016-17 college season:
Regan Upshaw: One of former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Regan Upshaw’s sons, the younger Regan, is a Clemson football walk-on. The Tigers won the national title over Alabama on Monday. While he attended Tampa Alonso, the family relocated to Manatee County where his younger brother Taylor played at Braden River High last fall.
Daniel Erlenmeyer: A Lakewood Ranch High alum, Erlenmeyer is a freshman on the North Carolina State swimming and diving team. He’s logged top-five times in three separate freestyle events so far this year for the Wolfpack. His best 500 freestyle time is 4:24.97, which is tied for fourth on the team. In the 1,000 freestyle, he’s clocked in at a season-best 9:34.90. That’s fifth-best on the team this season. And in the 1,650 freestyle, Erlenmeyer’s top time is 15:18.64.