From the Sports Editor: Thurman set to compete for spot on Bengals’ line

Dover High and University of Florida product Trip Thurman said everything has gone well for him so far through the off-season practices and workouts with the Cincinnati Bengals. He said his ability to play most of the positions on the offensive line definitely works in his favor. (Delaware State News file photo)

Dover High and University of Florida product Trip Thurman said everything has gone well for him so far through the off-season practices and workouts with the Cincinnati Bengals. He said his ability to play most of the positions on the offensive line definitely works in his favor. (Delaware State News file photo)

So Trip Thurman had a really good excuse for not being with his mom on Mother’s Day.

Trip Thurman

Trip Thurman

The former Dover High football standout was in Cincinnati on May 8, getting a free-agent tryout with the NFL’s Bengals.

And while Thurman did miss seeing his mom, Cindy, that day, the call he got to make to her — telling her Cincinnati signed him — was pretty cool, too.

“Just giving her that call was an unbelievable feeling,” said Thurman. “I can’t describe it. She was teary-eyed and happy for me because it’s something I’ve been working at most of my life.

“I remember saying, ‘Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, I love you and I think I’ll be staying in Cincinnati a little bit longer.”

Clearly that day was a huge step for Thurman. But it was hardly the last one for the 6-foot-5, 307-pound offensive lineman, who played at Florida.

Signing a free-agent contract was just getting his foot in the door.

Now Thurman has to make the team.

That process will start in earnest when the Bengals open preseason camp on July 29.

“It’s definitely a different feeling,” said Thurman. “The best way to look at it, I guess, is it’s a job and you’re still in the interview process.

“They usually keep most of the draft picks. But, as far as free-agent guys, it’s still an interview process until that last cut. That’s the way I’m going to continue to approach it going into camp.

“People come up to me and say, ‘Oh, you’re on the team, right?’” he added. “It’s like, ‘Kind of, but there’s still work to be done.’ I’m looking forward to it.”

Thurman said everything has gone well for him so far through the off-season practices and workouts. He said his ability to play most of the positions on the offensive line definitely works in his favor.

But Thurman, who was back home in Dover last week, also knows that proving himself to the Bengals is a constant process.

“It’s really a business atmosphere,” he said. “You can’t have too many mistakes. You’re going to get opportunities. You have to capitalize on them when you do get the chance to go in there and show them what you can do.”

Thurman is also smart enough to know that, when the Bengals get down to their roster limit, his name might not still be on there.

That means the more he can demonstrate while he’s still with Cincinnati, the better his chances of another NFL team noticing him. That’s especially true in preseason games.

The Bengals open their four-game preseason schedule by hosting the Vikings on Aug. 12.

“If I can get good enough film out there and the Bengals don’t decide to keep me, then I have 31 other options,” said Thurman. “Just to be able to have the opportunity to show them what I can do is a big deal.”

But as much as the NFL is a business, Thurman says football is still football. He says being a rookie reminds him of his first year in college.

“It brings me back to freshman year at Florida — just keeping your head down, working hard, not saying much,” he said. “You just keep taking in coaching and learning from the vets. … You only want to be noticed for what you do on the field and not with your mouth.”

A Big opportunity

For L.B. Stubbs, this was a moment almost too good to be true.

Here was the 30-year-old from Felton-Harrington, the manager of a District I baseball all-star team headed for the Big League World Series.

District I players celebrate Thursday’s East Regional title and a berth in the Big League World Series in South Carolina. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

District I players celebrate Thursday’s East Regional title and a berth in the Big League World Series in South Carolina. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“When I played, we never won an all-star game,” Stubbs said after Kent County beat Pennsylvania, 13-1, on Thursday morning to win the East title. “Every year that I played we were just two (games) and done. This is totally different.”

Baseball aside, District I’s trip to the World Series in Easley, S.C. this week, almost got derailed by an on-field fight during Tuesday’s 10-inning victory over Pennsylvania. Little League officials investigated the incident before allowing the tournament’s final three games to be played.

“I was a little nervous at first,” said Stubbs. “But I don’t think that they were going to affect all the players by the decision. I’m glad they let us finish the tournament out. Hats off to Little League baseball.”

This is the fifth time that Kent County has sent a Big League baseball team to the World Series. Last year’s squad finished a solid 2-2 in the tourney.

While there’s a handful of players back from that squad, most of the roster is made of players who are in a World Series for the first time.

“We’re going to try to win it,” said Stubbs.

Felton-Harrington’s Cole Garey was on last year’s team. He said it was a great experience.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “It feels pretty cool because we have a chance to be the best in the world. You play kids from all over the world, it’s amazing.

“It’s a lot of fun. You meet a lot of new people and the baseball’s pretty good down there.”

Odds & ends

•The District I players aren’t the only ones going to the Big League World Series. Smyrna’s Bill Kinsey will also be going to Easley as an umpire.

Other local umpires going to regionals include Milford’s Duane Fox (Junior League baseball East Regionals) and Middletown’s Tim Derr (Major League baseball East Regionals).

•The Capital School Board now isn’t expected to vote on Dover High’s new girls’ basketball coach until its August meeting.

The candidate being considered is believed to be Taylor Tuck, who finished her career with the Illinois women’s basketball team two years ago. Her sister, Morgan, played at Connecticut and was the third overall pick in last year’s WNBA draft.

•Polytech High senior baseball player Carter Chasanov has committed to East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University. The Warriors’ head coach, John Kochmansky, was a teammate of Chasanov’s dad, Heath, at Delaware.

Elena Delle Donne and the U.S. women’s basketball squad will be at the Carpenter Center on Wednesday night for a four-team Olympic tuneup.

At 5 p.m., the world’s second-ranked team, Australia, will take on 2015 FIBA Americas Championship gold medalist Canada followed by the U.S. facing 2012 Olympic silver medalist France at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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