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Dolphins’ Vince Biegel learned ‘strong work ethic’ as fifth-generation cranberry farmer – Miami Dolphins Blog

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DAVIE, Fla. — When you drink a glass of dark Ocean Spray cranberry juice, there’s a chance the cranberries were harvested by Miami Dolphins linebacker Vince Biegel and his family from their cranberry marsh in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.

A small-town fifth-generation farmer who spent 10-hour summer days knee-deep in cranberry beds, Biegel took a unique journey to the NFL.

“The cranberry marsh was my only job growing up. It’s a hard job. It’s not a spotlight job. There’s not a lot of glory,” Biegel said. “I learned to take responsibility, have a strong work ethic and take advantage of your opportunities. Those qualities have taken me a long way.”

The 26-year-old is now a starting pass-rusher and spirited leader for a 2-9 Dolphins team that will host the Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday (Fox).

Miami traded veteran linebacker Kiko Alonso to the New Orleans Saints for Biegel on Sept. 1, and while Alonso was the big name in the deal, Biegel was viewed by some as a special-teams throw-in. But in an extreme rebuilding season, the Dolphins searched for low-cost, diamond-in-the-rough keepers. They saw potential in Biegel beyond special teams.

Three months later, it’s clear the Dolphins won the trade. Biegel represents exactly what Dolphins coach Brian Flores is trying to build in Miami.

The cranberry man

Approximately 50% of cranberries harvested in the United States come from Wisconsin — primarily because of the sandy soil. Some of that originates from Wisconsin Rapids’ Dempze Co. cranberry marsh — a family business that celebrated its 100th anniversary this summer and helped shape Biegel into the man he is today.

Biegel started working on the marsh when he was 7 years old. The Dempze farm comes from his mom’s side of the family. His dad’s side of the family was all about football. His dad, Rocky, played linebacker at BYU. Biegel’s grandfather, Ken, played football at Wisconsin-Eau Claire and is in the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Life was a steady mix of cranberries and football. Vince Biegel chose his preferred life path early on.

“Growing up, football was my main passion. I pursued it relentlessly. My dad was unique in that he pushed school first, football second and working on the marsh third,” Biegel said. “But I never considered working at the marsh as a fallback like a bad thing. Our family takes great pride in that. Honestly, it’s still in the cards. I could see myself running my own marsh one day.”

Even as an accomplished Wisconsin Badgers defender, Biegel spent some of each summer working at the marsh.

“Harvest was my favorite. Harvest is when you see the fruits of your labor come to fruition,” Biegel said. “It’s sort of like when you get a sack.”

A couple of his teammates’ eyes widen when he discusses the Dempze cranberry sauce and cranberry apple crisp family recipes. Cranberries are his favorite fruit and Thanksgiving dish. His favorite drink? Half-cranberry juice, half 7UP. The cranberry man has taught his locker mates more about his favorite fruit than they could have ever dreamed.

As Biegel explains the cranberry farming process, Dolphins linebackers Jerome Baker and Deon Lacey chuckle to themselves. They have heard this story plenty. Biegel proudly continues, “Cranberries grow on vines in a cranberry bed, which is about the size of a football field. In our marsh, we have about 70 to 80 cranberry beds, so that’s 70 to 80 fields’ worth of cranberries.”

The cranberry man always planned to leave the marsh to pursue his NFL dreams, but when it’s all over, there’s a good chance he’ll return to cultivating a bed of berries.

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Wisconsin LB Vince Biegel will be the first to tell you Wisconsin is the No. 1 producer of cranberries in the U.S. As a child who grew up on a cranberry marsh, Biegel shares how his experience shaped who he is on and off the field.

‘I love being’ in Miami

A week before the 2019 NFL season began, Biegel went from a championship contender with the Saints to one of the worst teams in football — a team that started the season 0-7. Surprisingly, he was ecstatic to join the Dolphins because of the “opportunity.”

Biegel was primarily a special-teams player with New Orleans; he played only two defensive snaps in 2018. He yearned for more. And then the trade happened.

“I really do love being here. When Miami traded for me, I knew it was going to be a great opportunity because this is a young team. It’s been all that and more,” Biegel said. “This is the opportunity that I’ve been able to grow the most from in my career from a football and leader perspective. I’m excited to hopefully stick around here for a long time.”

Biegel says being released by the Green Bay Packers — the team that selected him in the fourth round of the 2017 draft — was the best thing for his career. As a kid who was from Wisconsin and who attended the University of Wisconsin, Biegel put too much pressure on himself playing for his hometown NFL team.

“A weight was lifted off my shoulder,” Biegel said about being cut by Green Bay in September 2018 and then signed by New Orleans. “I got back to the purity of playing football.”

Dolphins linebackers coach Rob Leonard says Biegel’s strengths are his motor and his physicality: “You don’t have to say anything to Vince to get him going, so I can coach that. I can tame you down. I can’t tame you up. He lights a fire to the whole defense. I just try to channel it to get that motor pointed in the right direction. Like, scout team: Don’t kill the quarterback.”

The Biegel buzz is real in Miami. He has become a favorite of the fans, coaches and teammates in a short time.

“Biegel consistently brings the energy. He’s the main one. Sometimes it seems annoying, but he brings it every day,” Baker said. “It’s definitely important. It’s a team. Some days it can’t just be him. Some days it has to be other guys. But for Biegel, no matter what is going on, he brings positive light out of it.”

‘The wins will come’

Biegel’s pass-rush ability, success setting the edge, high motor and infectious vibe have sealed his starting linebacker role. He leads the Dolphins in quarterback hits (11), and he’s second on the team in sacks (two). The first sack of his career came in Week 2 against New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

“Brady was the guy I wanted to sack most when I entered the NFL. That was a great experience and now I want more. I want to be the guy out there to provide that spark for us,” Biegel said. “One thing my dad always taught me was effort. There’s a lot of things you can’t control, but there’s one thing you can control and it’s your effort. For me, it’s a compliment when people say, ‘Hey, you’re a high-motor guy.'”



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Ravens coach John Harbaugh defends Lamar Jackson

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended Lamar Jackson’s playoff failure on Friday, highlighting the progress the quarterback has made in two NFL seasons.

“He’s 23 years old. He’s younger than Joe Burrow, OK?” Harbaugh said at his end-of-season news conference. “So he’s got a pretty good head start right now. I mean, he’s along the way. The Manning brothers combined to … they had five losses in their first five playoff games before they won one. [Joe] Montana, [Steve] Young and [Brett] Favre didn’t start a playoff game until their third season. [Drew] Brees and [Troy] Aikman, until their fourth season, and [Aaron] Rodgers until his fifth season. Interesting.”

Jackson is the front-runner for NFL most valuable player after becoming the first player to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. But he wasn’t the same dominating force in Saturday’s 28-12 divisional playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans, throwing two interceptions and fumbling once.

In two seasons, Jackson is 19-3 in the regular season and 0-2 in the postseason.

Asked if Jackson has a tendency to be too self-critical, Harbaugh said, “I think he understands what it is to take responsibility. And he also has a great sense of urgency to be successful and what it takes to be successful. So no, Lamar doesn’t lack for confidence. He’s not doubting himself, if that’s the implication that those people are making.”

Jackson met with Harbaugh in his office “for a good while” on Wednesday. Harbaugh asked Jackson where he needs to improve.

“Without getting into what they are specifically, he nailed it, the priority list, in the exact same order that [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] and I nailed the priority list when we were talking on Monday,” Harbaugh said.

At the start of the season, the biggest question surrounding the Ravens was whether Jackson could become a legitimate NFL passer. He led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes and finished third in passer rating (113.3).

Last year, Harbaugh acknowledged that some receivers might not be excited to play in Baltimore’s offense. Does he anticipate that not being an issue now?

“Yes I do,” Harbaugh said. “If you remember last year, I said it in a way like, ‘They’re going to find out.’ Yes, I absolutely believe players are going to be very excited to be here and part of this offense.”

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2020 NFL draft underclassmen declarations

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More than 100 underclassmen already have declared for the 2020 NFL draft, and there are a few more expected to announced their intentions before the deadline, which will be announced by the NFL on Monday, Jan. 20. Some played in their bowl games; others opted not to.

What promises to be a banner class for wide receives has gotten even deeper. Here are the prospects who have declared for the draft, in alphabetical order:

More 2020 NFL draft coverage:
Mel Kiper’s Big Board | Todd McShay’s mock draft 1.0

Position: Running back

Ahmed declares after leading team in rushing as junior


Position: Running back

Akers to skip bowl, enter draft


Position: Cornerback

Arnold, fifth nationally in interceptions, announces for draft


Position: Tight end

Asiasi rides strong finish to season into draft


Position: Cornerback

Canes CB Bandy decides on early entry


Position: Offensive tackle

Becton posts intentions to skip bowl, enter draft


Position: Running back

Benjamin to pass on senior season for draft


Position: Defensive end

Illini sack leader to forgo senior season


Position: Center

ESPN No. 1 center Biadasz will forgo final year for draft


Position: Defensive tackle

Blacklock says he’s ready to chase NFL dream


Position: Wide receiver

Hornung Award winner Bowden declares for draft, will play in bowl


Position: Tight end

Bryant posts video saying he will turn pro


Position: Wide receiver

Cephus posts big season, decides to move on to NFL


Position: Outside linebacker

Chaisson will leave school early, enter draft


Position: Offensive tackle

Charles part of seven early entries from LSU


Position: Offensive tackle


Position: Defensive end

Coe cites personal reasons for departing early for NFL


Position: Center

Colon-Castillo thanks coaches, fans and heads to NFL draft


Position: Safety

Curl to forgo senior season


Position: Center

LSU center joins list of early entries


Position: Running back

Dallas decides to move on to ’20 draft


Position: Cornerback

Dantzler to move on to pros


Position: Wide receiver

Davis says decision to move on to NFL not an easy one


Position: Wide receiver

Sleeper WR Davis graduates early, eligible for senior all-star games


Position: Safety

Delpit leads cadre of early entries for national champs


Position: Running back

Dillon to pass on bowl, turn pro


Position: Running back

ESPN No. 3 RB Dobbins opts for early entry

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J.K. Dobbins breaks free for a 68-yard touchdown run for the Buckeyes to increase their first-quarter lead.


Position: Quarterback

Top 5 QB Eason leaves Huskies for draft


Position: Running back

Edwards-Helaire joins several teammates in going pro early


Position: Defensive tackle

Underrated Elliott to make jump after just one full year as starter


Position: Defensive end

Highly ranked pass-rusher Epenesa enters draft


Position: Running back

RB Evans makes jump after finishing in top 10 nationally in rushing


Position: Quarterback

ESPN No. 5 QB Fromm elects to enter draft

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Desmond Howard explains that he is surprised but understanding about Jake Fromm entering the NFL draft, and Ryan Leaf voices his support of Fromm’s decision.


Position: Defensive end


Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State Bulldogs

Position: Linebacker

Despite season cut short by suspension, Gay declares for draft


Position: Safety

Navy transfer Gilman passes on final year at ND for draft


Position: Defensive end

Gross-Matos to enter draft, play in bowl


Position: Defensive back

Utes nickelback posts intent to pass up final season


KJ Hamler, Penn State Nittany Lions

Position: Wide receiver

Kiper’s No. 10 WR joins loaded class at position


Position: Cornerback

Baylor transfer Hand will leave Owls early for draft


Position: Cornerback

Highly ranked CB to forgo senior season


Position: Center

Another Owl opts for early-entry route


Position: Wide receiver

Higgins’ early entry adds another gem to WR class


Position: Wide receiver

After ‘long talks with God,’ Hodgins goes pro


Position: Cornerback

Auburn CB passes up final year for ’20 draft


Position: Wide receiver

Syracuse leading receiver Jackson passes up final year


Position: Wide receiver

Jefferson decides to make jump after big season for national champs


Position: Wide receiver

Jeudy, Kiper’s No. 1 WR, says bye to Tide, joins loaded draft


Position: Cornerback

Johnson, school jointly announce his departure for next level


Tony Jones Jr, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Position: Running back

Jones passes on senior year for draft after big bowl game


Position: Tight end

Tight end announces on Twitter it’s time for him to try next level


Position: Offensive guard

Kindley makes it 3 Georgia OL to enter draft early


Cole Kmet, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Position: Tight end

Kmet flips, now will explore NFL draft


Position: Wide receiver

ESPN No. 2 WR Lamb decides to enter draft

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CeeDee Lamb is not only Oklahoma’s star wide receiver and Jalen Hurts’ favorite target, but he serves as a magician on the field with his mind-boggling abilities.


Position: Running back

Leake declares to chase lifelong dream of NFL


Position: Quarterback

ESPN’s No. 7-ranked QB Love enters draft


Position: Defensive end/linebacker


Position: Defensive tackle

Big 12 sack leader Lynch casts lot with NFL


Position: Defensive tackle

ESPN’s No. 4-ranked DT moving on to NFL


Position: Tight end

Markway decides to enter draft


Position: Running back

RB McClease follows 100-yard bowl effort by declaring for draft


Position: Running back

McFarland passes on final two years of eligibility


Position: Quarterback

McDonald opts to pass on senior season to enter draft


Position: Safety

First-team All-SEC McKinney opts for draft


Position: Defensive end

Little-used backup DE enters draft early


Position: Linebacker

Murray posts video thanking OU coaches and fans, moves on to draft


Position: Offensive guard

Underrated but oft-injured Muti opts for draft


Position: Cornerback

Top corner Okudah makes choice to turn pro early

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Adrian Martinez’s overthrow is tipped, and Jeff Okudah makes the catch from the turf.


Position: Tight end

ESPN’s No. 6-ranked TE puts name in NFL draft


Position: Tight end

6-foot-7 TE Parkinson makes tough call to leave Stanford


Position: Wide receiver

Peoples-Jones skips senior year to join very deep WR class


Position: Linebacker

LSU leading tackler Phillips opts for draft


Position: Cornerback

Pierre thanks Lane, Monte Kiffin on way into draft


Position: Linebacker

Delpit leads cadre of early entries for national champs


Position: Wide receiver

Reagor joins list of elite WR prospects in 2020 draft


Position: Cornerback

Renfro pens “Dear 12th Man” letter, enters draft


Position: Cornerback

Roberts to forgo senior season for draft


Position: Wide receiver

Rogers casts name into loaded wide receiver pool


Position: Wide receiver

Speedy Ruggs ranks among Kiper’s top 5 WRs


Cesar Ruiz, Michigan Wolverines

Position: Center

Ruiz passes on senior year to enter ’20 draft


Position: Cornerback

FSU corner decides to forgo senior season


Position: Wide receiver

ESPN’s No. 3-ranked WR Shenault declares for draft


Position: Punter

Aussie punter, 27, moving on to pro game


Position: Safety

Hawkeyes safety passes on senior season for NFL draft


Position: Running back

Swift opts for NFL, could be first RB taken


Position: Quarterback

In midst of rehab, Tagovailoa makes “difficult decision” to move on to pros

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Dabo Swinney has high praise for Tua Tagovailoa and explains why he’d want him on his NFL team.


Position: Running back

Taylor posts intention to enter draft


Position: Running back

After consecutive Doak Walker Awards, Taylor opts for NFL


Position: Offensive tackle

Thomas enters draft, could be first OL off the board


Position: Wide receiver

Thomas says on Instagram he’s skipping bowl to join ’20 draft


Michael Turk, Arizona State Sun Devils

Position: Punter

Turk to forgo senior season with Sun Devils


Josh Uche, Michigan Wolverines

Position: Linebacker

ESPN’s No. 9-ranked OLB Uche heads to draft


Position: Running back

Warren makes jump after 1,200-yard season


Position: Wide receiver

WR Watkins posts 1,000-yard season, jumps to NFL


Position: Outside linebacker

Weaver, fifth nationally in sacks, passes up senior season for draft


Position: Wide receiver

White joins early-entry list littered with wide receivers


Position: Offensive tackle

Right tackle Wills could be a first-round pick


Position: Offensive tackle

RT Wilson joins pack of Bulldogs entering draft early


Position: Safety

Winfield Jr. passes on final two years to enter draft


Position: Offensive tackle

With possible first-round status, Wirfs chooses to enter draft


Position: Linebacker

Injured Woodward joins Aggies QB Love in draft


Position: Defensive end

Pass-rusher Young enters draft, lock to go top 5


Position: Running back

Young to enter draft rather than explore graduate transfer




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Mitch Wishnowsky almost slept on a bathroom floor to become an NFL punter — NFL

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In the summer of 2012, Mitch Wishnowsky sat at the end of a wooden dock, fishing rod in hand. He cast his line as the sun set over the water’s horizon; as he did so, his cellphone rang. A professional glazier by day, the 20-year-old Western Australia native had recently bought a plot of land in Perth with his best friend. They built a house, worked their trades, and planned to save enough money to provide for their respective futures, which Wishnowsky hoped meant a career, wife and children.

As he sat on the dock, still recovering from the dengue fever he had contracted on a recent trip to Bali, he just wanted to be healthy enough to work his job of framing and setting glass for industrial buildings.

Once a talented soccer player, Wishnowsky had pursued the sport until he realized he wouldn’t qualify for the pro leagues. Standing 6-foot-2 with a muscular frame, tanned skin, chiseled cheekbones and blond hair that he sometimes grew long, the Thor lookalike had a powerful kicking leg.

He had always wanted to try Australian rules football; after dropping out of school at 16 to pursue his trade, he also signed up for Aussie rules. But a dislocated shoulder on the field forced him to halt his work as a glazier, and Wishnowsky realized financial stability was more important than his sporting passion. So he gave up Aussie rules, instead playing American flag football in a casual weekend league.

He answered his cellphone and he and the caller spoke for several minutes. Days later, Wishnowsky handed in his resignation letter. He had only one month left before completing his official glazier trade certification, so he finished out the month and moved to Melbourne.

He was going to learn how to be an NFL punter.



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