19 sports stories to remember from 2019
From high school to the pros, here’s a look back at some of the top storylines over the last year with Florida and Georgia ties
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the calendar turns to a new year, we’re taking a look back on some of the top sports stories from 2019.
News4Jax recapped the major storylines in Florida and Georgia over the last year, from the rise of Minshew Mania to the comeback of Tiger Woods. We saw a hometown star win a World Series and another elected to the NFL Hall of Fame. There were both highs and lows on the gridiron.
Here’s 19 to remember from 2019:
Feb. 2: Bailey elected to NFL Hall of Fame; Boselli misses out
Champ Bailey, a former Charlton County High School star who played at the University of Georgia and later with the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins, was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in his first season of eligibility. Bailey set records at his high school in Folkston, Georgia, that still stand. Tony Boselli, the first draft pick in Jacksonville Jaguars history and a five-time Pro Bowl selection, was a finalist for the third straight year but missed enshrinement.
March 3: Mandarin QB commits to Dawgs
Mandarin quarterback Carson Beck provided a big jolt in the recruiting world when he committed to Georgia. The state’s Mr. Football in 2018 led the Mustangs to the Class 8A championship as a junior and was one of the top recruits in the country. Beck would sign with the Bulldogs on the first day of the early signing period on Dec. 18, one of 33 area players who signed letters of intent that day.
March 13: Jaguars sign former Super Bowl MVP
Burdened by erratic quarterback play, the Jaguars made finding one in free agency a top priority and landed the most coveted player on the market — Nick Foles. The Jaguars signed Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract with $50 million in guarantees.
March 17: Rory McIlory wins The Players
Rory McIlroy outdueled Ponte Vedra Beach resident Jim Furyk to win The Players Championship. After 12 years of being played in May, the tournament returned in 2019 to its original March date.
March 21: Bolles snags Ponte Vedra High coach
For the first time since 1988, there’s a head football coach at Bolles not named Corky Rogers or Wayne Belger. The Bulldogs hired Ponte Vedra High coach Matt Toblin to lead the program. Rogers was hired in 1989 from Lee and brought Belger with him as an assistant. Rogers would go on to become the all-time wins leader in Florida and won 10 state championships at Bolles. Belger succeeded him in 2017 and 2018 before retiring.
April 14: Woods wins 1st major in over a decade
A longshot named Tiger Woods provided one of the biggest stories of the year when he held on to win the Masters golf tournament for the fifth time. Physically not the same golfer as he had been due to numerous injuries, Woods shot a final-round 2-under 70 to hold off Brooks Kopeka, Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele by a stroke. Woods finished 13 under for the tournament. It was his 15th major championship and was it named AP Sports Story of the Year.
April 18: Playoff hockey returns to Jacksonville
The Jacksonville Icemen hosted their first playoff game in franchise history, beating the Florida Everblades 4-3 in front of 6,687 fans at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Their season ended four days later, as the Everblades won the series, 4-2.
April 25: Jaguars get a surprise in 1st round of NFL
The Jaguars made their first pick in the NFL draft and got a surprise when defensive end Josh Allen of Kentucky was still on the board. Jacksonville picked him at No. 7, drawing widespread praise from media.
May 9: Shocking announcement from Jags linebacker
Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith announced in an odd Instagram post that he was retiring after five seasons with the team. His sudden retirement left the Jaguars thin at the position and that void would prove large as the season went on.
June 20: High school football kickoffs moved up over safety
In response to shootings outside of two high school football stadiums over an eight-month period, including one May 17 during the Terry Parker-Ribault spring game, Duval County Public Schools moved kickoff times at football games up to 6 p.m. It made minor adjustments to certain games in 2018, but moved all but three games on the schedule up an hour for 2019.
Aug. 24: 1st ever Publix Bold City Showcase
The Publix Bold City Showcase at Bolles drew a total of 21,204 fans for three football games on a blistering hot Saturday. Mandarin beat Atlantic Coast (28-12), Bartram Trail beat Lee (48-20) and University Christian beat Bolles (21-14).
Sept. 19: Debut of Minshew Mania
The Jaguars rookie quarterback won his first NFL game when he led Jacksonville over the Tennessee Titans 20-7 on Thursday night football. Four days later, Gardner Minshew II treated fans at “The Mark Brunell Show" to quite a show, cutting a pair of jorts for a fan. The phenomenon of Minshew, which ultimately led to an NFL segment with Uncle Rico of “Napoleon Dynamite” fame, is unlike anything Jaguars fans have seen in the franchise’s 25-year history.
Sept. 21: Gators’ Trask makes 1st start since 9th grade
Florida quarterback Kyle Trask made his first start in nearly seven years in Florida’s 34-3 rout of the Tennessee Volunteers. The redshirt junior took over for quarterback Feleipe Franks, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the prior game against the Kentucky Wildcats and later announced that he had decided to leave the Florida football program. The Gators finished the regular season 10-2 and Trask compiled 2,636 passing yards, throwing 24 touchdowns, and recorded three rushing TDs.
Oct. 12: Raines fends off Ribault in Northwest Classic
Two-time defending state champion Raines edged rival Ribault, 10-7, in the 50th Northwest Classic. The game was televised live on WJXT Channel 4, the first time that the game had been broadcast in the series’ lengthy history.
Oct. 15: Jags deal Jalen to Rams
The relationship between Jalen Ramsey and the Jaguars went from tense to unsalvageable in a brief amount of time this season. The Jaguars, the franchise that drafted Ramsey fifth overall in 2016, traded the disgruntled cornerback in a blockbuster deal, sending Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams for two first-round picks in 2020 and 2021, and a fourth-round pick in 2021. The trade followed a public spat on the sideline between Ramsey and Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone during the first half of the Texans game on Sept. 15, a bizarre news conference, Ramsey divulging on a podcast that disrespectful comments after that 13-12 loss to the Texans led to him asking his agent for a trade and Ramsey missing three consecutive games with a back injury.
Oct. 30: Clutch Kendrick leads Nats to 1st World Series
West Nassau High School graduate Howie Kendrick had the best season of his lengthy baseball career, leading the Washington Nationals to their first World Series championship. Kendrick, 36, belted a two-run homer in the seventh inning for a 6-2 win in Game 7 over Houston. Kendrick, who also played at St. Johns River State College, had a stellar season, hitting .344 with 17 home runs and 62 RBI. He was dominant in the postseason, earning MVP honors in the NLCS against the Cardinals.
Nov. 3: Taggart fired halfway during his 2nd season at FSU
Florida State fired Willie Taggart the day after the Seminoles lost to rival Miami. Taggart, who came to Tallahassee after one season at Oregon, was 9-12 in parts of two seasons at Florida State. According to multiple reports, the buyout on Taggart’s contract was between $17 and 18 million. But there’s uncertainty surrounding that eight-figure buyout, as the Tampa Bay Times later reported that Taggart never signed a final contract. Florida State would go on to announce the hiring of Mike Norvell on Dec. 8. The 38-year-old came from Memphis, where he wrapped up a 12-1 season by winning the American Athletic Conference championship. Norvell was 38-15 in four seasons at Memphis and his offensive became known for its explosive, big plays.
Dec. 3: JU discontinues football program
Jacksonville University made the stunning announcement that it would no longer play football. JU’s football program debuted in 1998, and while it played under the Division I umbrella, it used the framework of Division III to fill its roster out and didn’t provide players scholarships for athletic purposes. The university said it would offer full-tuition scholarships to every football student-athlete who chooses to stay at JU until graduation.
Dec. 18: Jaguars bombshell: Tom Coughlin fired
Two days after a scathing statement by the NFL Players Association that warned prospective free agents to consider the Jaguars’ history with excessive fines and grievances, owner Shad Khan fired executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin. It was the second time Coughlin had been fired by the team, the first following the 2002 season when he was a coach. His three-year tenure as EVP was filled with more lows than highs and the NFLPA release.
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