Stanford wide receiver Kodi Whitfield is going to find himself on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays of the week after the amazing touchdown catch he made on Saturday against UCLA.
The Cardinal sophomore accounted for the first touchdown of the Stanford-UCLA game in Palo Alto with an amazing one-handed backhand grab in the third quarter. The throw was from 30 yards away, making his ability to backhand and pluck the ball out of the air even more impressive. You would think that after making a play like that, Whitfield would have huge stats, but that was actually his first touchdown grab of the season.
Tennessee wide receiver Marquez North made the catch of the weekend on Saturday during an upset win over No. 11 South Carolina. With the Vols trailing 21-20 and facing a 3rd and 10 in their own territory, quarterback Justin Worley threw a bomb down the left sideline into single coverage. North, a true freshman, somehow pinned the ball against his body around the defender’s arm and came down with the pass.
The 39-yard hookup put Tennessee deep into South Carolina territory and set up an eventual chip shot field goal as time expired. The Vols came away with a shocking 23-21 victory.
At 6-foot-4, 214 pounds, North is one of the most exciting players Tennessee has on offense. His big-play ability was on full display on Saturday as he hauled in three catches for 102 yards. His catch, given the importance, was right up there with this one-handed touchdown grab as one of the plays of the year.
GIF via SB Nation
Rice nearly pulled off an upset against the University of Houston over the weekend in a game that came down to the wire. After cutting Houston’s lead to 31-26 late in the fourth quarter, Rice was able to recover one of the most impressive onside kicks you will ever see.
Kicker Chris Boswell showed off some incredibly fancy footwork by faking like he was going to attempt an onside kick to his left and switching at the last second. Boswell brought his right foot around the back of his left leg and chopped the ball to the right, where a few unsuspecting return men allowed the kicking team to recover. However, the Rice offense was unable to string together a game-winning touchdown drive.
It would have been better if Rice came back and won, but the kick still earned a spot on the 2013 college football highlight reel. We’ll likely be seeing it replayed for a while.
You probably didn’t expect to be hearing much about the Toledo vs. Central Michigan game on Saturday, but Toldeo wide receiver Alonzo Russell changed that in a hurry. The sophomore made an incredible one-handed catch to haul in a three-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Russell made the catch despite having his jersey yanked by a defender. There was obvious pass interference on the play as his left arm was being held, but he only needed his right to make the play. The phenomenal hand-eye coordination put Russell right up there with some of those fantastic catches we saw in the NFL’s opening weekend.
GIF via Mocksession
Michigan recruit Jabrill Peppers is ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the nation and No. 1 at his position, which is cornerback. After watching his incredible touchdown run from Tuesday, you would never know it.
During a scrimmage for his high school, Paramus Catholic in New Jersey, Peppers ripped off one of the most amazing runs you will ever see. It instantly reminded me of Marshawn Lynch’s beast mode touchdown against the Saints back in the 2010 NFL playoffs. The youngster broke eight tackles en route to the end zone and executed a vintage spin move.
Michigan may have to consider giving Peppers a chance at running back in addition to corner, although we know how rare that is at the collegiate level. Running skills like that are tough to ignore.
H/T SB Nation
A fan who was sitting in the grassy area beyond center field during a minor league game between the Dayton Dragons and Lake County Captains earlier this week made the catch of the year. We’ve seen professional ballplayers sell out to make a catch before because they’re getting paid to help their teams win, but this guy laid it all on the line for a souvenir.
As the fan saw the home run ball soaring his way, he sprung out of his seat and started jogging toward a wall over his left shoulder. The wall happened to be made of solid steel and concrete and had absolutely no padding on it, but the dude made the catch and went face-first into the barrier anyway.
And when I said he did it for the a souvenir, I meant a souvenir for someone else. As if this guy didn’t already cement himself (no pun intended) as a legend with the catch itself, he then proceeded to hand the ball to a young girl who was sitting near him.
Simply put, this is the stuff legends are made of. We have seen fans accomplish some amazing feats during games when balls come their way, but this guy is in a class of his own.
H/T SI Hot Clicks
Video via Business Insider
The Boston Red Sox defeated the Seattle Mariners in extra innings on Wednesday night, and if not for an incredible play by Jonny Gomes late in the game the outcome may have been reversed.
Gomes, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the 13th inning, made an incredibly rare unassisted double play in left field to save the game in the 15th. The Mariners had runners on first and second with one out when outfielder Michael Saunders slashed a sinking line drive to left. Gomes made a great diving catch and then stood up and jogged to second to double off Raul Ibanez.
Gomes certainly isn’t the most talented player on Boston’s roster, but he has been incredibly clutch this season. He has three pinch-hit homers — including a walk-off bomb — and consistently comes up with plays when the Red Sox need them. Thursday night was a perfect example, and it allowed the Sox to take back first place in the AL East from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Forget Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941. Enough about Barry Bonds’ 73 home runs in a single season. Baseball has a new untouchable record, and this one was set in the stands rather than on the diamond.
On Sunday, a Cleveland Indians named Greg Van Niel caught four foul balls in a single game. That’s right, four. Van Niel and his family sat on the third base line at Progressive Field during Cleveland’s win over the Kansas City Royals. And if you’re going to be a grown man wearing a glove to the ballpark, you might as well make history.
“Three of them were catches and one was a ball I picked up off the ground,” Van Niel told MLB.com’s Cut 4. “The third one, I think was the hardest one … I ended up sprawled across a few rows, and I got some cheese on myself. But the other ones were just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.”
Van Niel also noted that it was the first time he ever snagged a foul ball at Progressive Field. Do we actually know if catching four foul balls in a game is a record? No, and I don’t believe there are records kept for feats like that. What we do know is that it was amazing when that guy caught back-to-back homers and that other fan grabbed three foul balls in a single game. Four is just legendary.
For a few seconds on Monday night, it looked as though Joey Votto may have launched a two-run home run to put the Cincinnati Reds up 5-4 over the Milwaukee Brewers in the top of the ninth inning. Carlos Gomez got in the way.
The Brewers center fielder timed his jump perfectly and robbed Votto of a home run, saving the game for Milwaukee and closer Francisco Rodriguez. Robbing a home run is exhilarating enough, but Gomez said taking one away to save the game is just as great a feeling as a walk-off hit.
“When you save the game like that or when you hit a walk-off home run, it’s amazing,” Gomez said, per the Associated Press. “I never hit one, but I steal home run to win the game. It’s something special, like you can’t wait to get home to see it over and over.”
Votto could do nothing but tip his cap.
“The whole thing is really a random occurrence and it’s what makes baseball so special,” the Reds slugger said. “Carlos has had a fantastic year this year. Today he didn’t have a good game offensively and he goes out and makes a game-changing play on the defensive end. You know, I did everything I could, and he made a great play.”
Gomez’s amazing play wasn’t the first game-saving catch we have seen this year, but it very well could wind up being the best.
H/T Big League Stew
San Diego Padres outfielder Will Venable made the catch of the year at a crucial time during his team’s win over the San Francisco Giants on Monday night. With two outs and a runner on second, Juan Perez stung a ball to center field that looked like it was going to get over Venable’s head for a walk-off hit. The 30-year-old outfielder had other plans.
Venable went full extension and dove onto the warning track to make an amazing catch. The Padres went on to score two runs in the top of the 13th and win the game.
The grab was similar to the one this Minnesota Twins minor leaguer made last week, only Venable’s incredible play saved the game in the 12th inning. For that, he currently holds the crown for “Catch of the Year.”