The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 24, 2014

It’s time for spring cleaning inside my crowded cranium

By Cam Huffman
Sports Editor

— My head has been filled with more thoughts than a Hallmark store and more nuggets than a McDonald’s freezer in recent days, so I decided it was time to clear them out and get at least some of them in print.

Here goes.

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Having watched a lot of golf in recent weeks — both live and on television — I’ve been thinking some about which golfers I’d like to see at this year’s Greenbrier Classic.

The annual PGA Tour event has already landed the game’s two biggest current stars — Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson — in past years and it’s sure to have the game’s hottest name, Bubba Watson, for years to come since Watson now owns a house on The Greenbrier property.

The event has also hosted legends like Tom Watson and colorful characters like John Daly.

So who’s left?

Three names that have not yet visited The Greenbrier are at the top of my wish list.

The first is Rickie Fowler. The 25-year-old Oklahoma State graduate has won only once on the PGA Tour, but he’s among the game’s most popular — partly because of the flashy outfits he wears on the course, but also because he has the game to eventually become a star. Hopefully his good friend Bubba Watson will have some pull in getting Fowler to play.

Matt Kuchar has been playing as well as anybody in recent weeks, and it would be fun to see “Kuch,” a Georgia Tech graduate who has won seven times on the PGA Tour, stroll the fairways of the 100-year-old Old White TPC.

Finally, there’s Fred Couples, who continually turns back the clock at the Masters. The 54-year-old plays only a few PGA Tour events each year, playing mostly on the Champions Tour now, but “Boom Boom” still draws a crowd wherever he goes. The Old White TPC is a place he could compete, and I know West Virginians would love to see the 1992 Masters champion at The Greenbrier.

All three of these golfers would add something special to what’s always been a great field. But I’ll be happy either way. Jimmy Buffett — my favorite since I first saw him in concert 20 years ago — is coming to town.

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Caleb Wygal of WVUPros, who has done a tremendous job over the last several months of keeping our readers updated on the latest information on former WVU stars now playing professionally, has been busy the last two days following the Canadian Football League.

On Thursday, Wygal informed me that former Mountaineer running back Steve Slaton became the latest to follow that path, joining Kent Richardson as a member of the Toronto Argonauts.

Slaton, who was the MVP of the 2006 Sugar Bowl and a consensus All-American the following season, began his NFL career with the Houston Texans in 2008, leading the NFL in rushing yards by a rookie. His career fizzled out, however, and he last was on a roster with the Miami Dolphins in 2012 before being released.

Slaton’s signing with the Argonauts gives WVU seven players in the CFL. Brandon Hogan (Winnipeg Blue Bombers), Richardson, Selvish Capers (Edmonton Eskimos) and Pat White (Edmonton Eskimos) all signed contracts this offseason. Jock Sanders (Calgary Stampeders), Scooter Berry (Montreal Alouettes) and Mortty Ivy (Saskatchewan Roughriders) were already playing in the CFL.

Only South Carolina (10) has more current players in that league that WVU.

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Wygal also passed on a note this week that Josh Jenkins is getting another chance of reaching his goal of making an NFL roster.

He was in camp with the Seattle Seahawks following last year’s draft but was released prior to the season. This week, the big offensive lineman from Parkersburg received an invitation to work out with the Detroit Lions.

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While in Charleston for a celebration welcoming the New Orleans Saints to West Virginia last month, Saints head coach Sean Payton said his team’s arrival date at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs this summer would be 15 days before the first preseason game.

When the NFL released its schedule Wednesday, the Saints first preseason game was listed as Aug. 8 against the St. Louis Rams, meaning the Saints would come to the Mountain State on July 24, according to the coach’s math.

Besides the meeting with the Rams, New Orleans will host Tennessee on Aug. 15, play at Indianapolis on Aug. 23 and host the Baltimore Ravens for their final tune-up on Aug. 28. The exact date that the Saints will leave White Sulphur Springs and return to New Orleans is still to be determined.

The regular season begins Sept. 7 in Atlanta.

Construction on the 55,000-square-feet facility and the three football fields that will serve as the Saints’ summer home is ongoing across the street from The Greenbrier’s main property.

— E-mail: chuffman and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.