Blackhawks

"Gut feeling" led Ekakitie to Iowa

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"Gut feeling" led Ekakitie to Iowa

It is a good thing that Faith Ekakitie chose to chronicle his recruiting journey on his own website. This is the son of Nigerian immigrants who left his home in Canada two years ago to enroll at Lake Forest Academy in suburban Chicago. He wanted to be a basketball player. But on Wednesday night he announced he has committed to play football at Iowa.

The 6'3, 275-pound defensive tackle is one of the last uncommitted standouts in the class of 2012. He was rated as one of the top five seniors in Illinois. He chose Iowa over Boston College, Oregon, Northwestern and Georgia Tech.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz now has 13 commitments and looks to close strong on national signing day in February, particularly in Illinois. The Hawkeyes already have Ekakitie, offensive lineman Ryan Ward of Providence, defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson of Montini and defensive back Maurice Fleming of Curie.

Ferentz has a shot at offensive lineman Jordan Diamond of Simeon, who beings his final visits this weekend with a trip to Ohio State, and there are reports that Glenbard West defensive lineman Tommy Schutt, who originally committed to Penn State, might be reconsidering his decision.

Ekakitie took his time, weighing over 30 scholarship offers. And he was brutally honest and candid while assessing his recruiting experience on his website, Faithflex.com. It was a refreshing look into the world of recruiting from an elite athlete who refused to be pressured into making an early decision.

In the end, he dropped Georgia Tech because of his mother's concerns over living in Atlanta. He fell short (by .2 of a grade point) of meeting Northwestern's admittance standard. And Oregon pulled his scholarship offer because he didn't commit soon enough.

That left Iowa and Boston College. His family pushed for BC because of its Jesuit values. But Ekakitie was turned off by what was described as "the divisive nature of BC's locker room after a loss to Florida State." Iowa boasted the largest teaching college in the nation for kinesiology, an area of study that interested Ekakitie.

"At this point, you can see where this decision would become extremely difficult for me to make," he said. "Here we have two schools that both have tremendous things to offer me. What would be the deciding factor between BC and Iowa? A gut feeling. That's all. Not the coaches, players, degrees or even football. It all really came down to where I truly felt at home. And I'm proud and extremely happy to announce that the gut feeling has led me to continue my career at the University of Iowa."

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Joel Quenneville returns to the United Center

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Joel Quenneville returns to the United Center

David Haugh, Charlie Roumeliotis, and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.

0:00 - Joel Quenneville returns to the United Center. The guys look back at his 3 Cups in Chicago and discuss his place among the greatest Chicago coaches of all-time.

9:00 - The Blackhawks have won 5 straight and are 3 points out of a wild card spot. Are the playoffs in their future?

12:00 - Patrick Kane has reached 1,000 points. Will he end up at the Blackhawks all-time leading scorer? Could he end up being the greatest Blackhawk ever?

18:00 - Jonathan Toews joins Kap to talk about Joel Quenneville's return, Kane's 1,000th point and the team's winning streak?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Marcell Ozuna signing with Braves rules out potential suitor for Kris Bryant

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USA TODAY

Marcell Ozuna signing with Braves rules out potential suitor for Kris Bryant

When former Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson signed with the Twins last week, one thought was Atlanta could pivot and try to acquire Kris Bryant to fill the void in their lineup.

That possibility looks less likely now, as the Braves announced Tuesday they’ve signed former Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna to a one-year, $18 million deal.

The Braves didn’t have a dire need for a third baseman — 22-year-old Austin Riley, a former top prospect, is waiting in the wings — so much as they needed a bat to replace Donaldson. Bryant would have checked both those boxes, but the path to acquiring him is more difficult.

Bryant has been fixated in trade rumors this winter, but any extensive negotiations won’t occur until his service time grievance case is resolved. NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan reported last week Bryant trade rumors this winter have been “greatly exaggerated” because the lingering grievance.

The Braves have been named a potential Bryant suitor as they hold the top prospects the Cubs would seek in return for Bryant. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman threw cold water on that notion recently.

There’s also the possibility the Cubs don’t move at all Bryant this offseason.

"No, we're not in a position where we *have* to do anything,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said Friday at Cubs Convention. “I think you want to always avoid being put in a corner where you have to make a deal and your back's against the wall and you're gonna take any deal that's out there.

“We’re not at all in that position but looking at the longer time horizon of the next two years, I think you would be wise at some point to do something that looks out a little bit more for the long-term and a little bit less for the short-term, but that doesn't have to happen now. We're not in a position where we have to move anybody."

Ozuna joining the Braves means the Cardinals lost one of their most productive bats from the 2019 division championship club. Like the Cubs, St. Louis' offseason has been marked by low-key moves, outside of the Cardinals acquiring pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore from the Rays, a deal which sent Cardinals slugger Jose Martinez to Tampa Bay.

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