About the author

Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he’s not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]

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44 Comments

  1. 1

    SaskBucs

    That seems a little too high but I am taking it. The Bucs are not in a position yet to be letting talent and depth walk. There are too many holes to fill and Gholston has proven to be an effective member of the line. He was sorely missed in that Saints game.

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    1. 1.1

      Trevor Sikkema

      The article read 7.5mil per year when I first published it, but I actually meant for it to say 6.75, so you get a little less! I think 6.75 is more realistic, just forgot to save the last version of the article…

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  2. 2

    Brandonges

    Great article Trevor. Love the premise and in-depth analysis. I think at the end of the day, I’d be fine with Gholston making the $7.5M average you suggest above if Licht structures it to be guaranteed for only the first two seasons like he typically does. It is certainly over paying based on a lack of sacks and PFF grades, but the Bucs are really in a bind when it comes to run stopping defensive ends. The run defense took a huge step back against the Saints and Cowboys when Gholston went down with injury. I think that stretch proved that Ayers is really the team’s only DE that you want out there on obvious run downs. Spence has yet to bulk up and Smith hasn’t shown that capability yet in his career (I don’t think George Johnson will make the 53 man roster). I think true market value for Gholston is probably more in the $5.5M/year category. But he’s a home grown guy and the Bucs really need him. Pay the man!

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    1. 2.1

      Trevor Sikkema

      Wel!

      I actually meant to make the average 6.75mil per year (I just changed it). The first number was based of different contracts. The article was still actuate, but I forgot to change the numbers in the deal. So if you’d take 7.5, you’re in luck! Haha.

      Sorry about that.

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  3. 3

    Garv

    Be smart. If Gholston won’t sign for a reasonable Buccaneer offer then let him test FA. If he really wants to stay in Tampa he’ll come back and the Buccaneers can either match it or up it a bit. I’d like him to stay but not at an unreasonable contract and although he is good against the run it’s the sack numbers that get the big money in AF for DE’s.

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  4. 4

    fredster

    Never real impressed with him. We did drop off though when he wasn’t in the line up…still don’t see paying him that much honestly but I’m certainly no expert on pay/production like some guys here. Lol.

    To think we let Michael Bennett walk because we didn’t think he was worth that….dumb dumb dumb.

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    1. 4.1

      Trevor Sikkema

      Yeah… that “what if” will always sting.

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      1. 4.1.1

        Garv

        Yeah, so was drafting Vinnie Testaverde instead of keeping Steve Young but it’s OLD NEWS!!! Get over it.

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  5. 5

    nitey

    I guess it would depend on what the numbers were for the 1st couple of years and at what point the team could get out of the contract if the projected production didn’t match up with the next seasons salary. On the whole though, I’d probably take the contract.

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    1. 5.1

      nitey

      BTW, excellent analysis. Thanks!

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      1. 5.1.1

        Trevor Sikkema

        Thanks!

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  6. 6

    stlbucsfan

    I appreciate the article but the Bucs have too much cap room to even consider letting our top in house FA walk over a million or two difference. Alterraun Verner is still stealing checks, Evan Smith is still stealing checks, Doug snorted up our money and even JR Sweezy has stolen a year of money with no play. We have other ways to save money, losing a 25 year old DE who hasnt peaked yet is the last thing we should be considering. If Licht is even considering this I would urge him to go watch film of our run defense after Will got hurt, he will cut the check minutes after that film review ended.

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    1. 6.1

      Trevor Sikkema

      So I’ll put you down for the , “Yes, you fools, pay the man” option.

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  7. 7

    macabee

    Trevor, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m an old guy with lots of free time and I put together lists for my own personal reference. Lol.

    Just in case you are one of the fans that would like to help Jason Licht spend money in free agency, here are the prominent 2017 free agents and their market valuations as reported by Spotrac.com. For your convenience, I listed them by position of need and projected value.

    Wide Receiver

    WR Alshon Jeffrey (26) 12.2mil
    WR Terelle Pryor (27) 8.9mil
    WR Pierre Garcon (30) 8.7mil
    WR Kenny Stills (24) 8.2mil
    WR DeSean Jackson (30) 7.6mil
    WR Brandon Lafell (30) 6.6mil
    WR Ted Ginn, Jr. (31) 4.2mil

    Running Back

    RB Le’Veon Bell (24) 10.5mil
    RB Adrian Peterson (31) possible UFA ??
    RB Jamaal Charles (30) possible UFA ??

    Offensive Line

    LG Kevin Zeitler (26) 11.2mil
    LG Ron Leary (27) 9.1mil
    C J.C. Tretter (25) 8.7mil
    RG Larry Warford (25) 8.5mil
    RG T.J. Lang (29) 8.4mil
    RT Ricky Wagner (27) 6.9mil

    Defensive Line

    DT Kawann Short (27) 17.2mil
    DE Chandler Jones (26) 16.2mil
    DE Jason Pierre Paul (28) 14.6mil
    DT Dontari Poe (26) 13.0mil
    DT Brandon Williams (27) 11.6mil
    DE Calais Campbell (30) 8.4mil
    DE William Gholston (25) 5.8mil

    Secondary

    CB Trumaine Johnson (27) 13.0mil
    CB Stephon Gilmore (26) 13.0mil
    CB A.J. Bouye (25) 11.2mil
    FS Eric Berry (28) 9.1mil
    SS Tony Jefferson (25) 6.2mil

    These are the best players in the league at the top of their game and their expected average salaries reflect that. Keep in mind, these are projected valuations based on comparable contracts, player stats, and the NFL salary cap. There is nothing to say the players will accept these offers or that teams will make such offers. You can obviously see why it is better to develop and keep your own. Don’t expect Jason Licht to pursue many if any at all of the top players because it goes against his philosophy for team development. But somebody will pony up and these guys will get paid. Happens every year!

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    1. 7.1

      cgmaster27

      I am not going to lie, I don’t see Tampa going after the big names such as yourself, but to get Gilmore and Berry would lock down our secondary for quite some time and give us some size, which we sorely need. I also really like the way Bouye played this year.

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      1. 7.1.1

        wnb0395

        I would love to see Berry signed also but he prob isnt going anywhere. The chiefs will resign him or franchise him after the way he played this season. Poe would be an interesting pick up though. Poe next to McCoy would be crazy. Alshon Jefferies would be another interesting pick up. He would be another big young target and would be one hell of a #2 WR.

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    2. 7.2

      Trevor Sikkema

      I love the extra info!

      I agree, and saw that 5.8mil number for Gholston. However, I think Gholston’s age and the inflation of contract money every year means he’s going to get a little more than that number.

      That’s why I posed the question. The Bucs will probably have to sign him for more than his market value is at right now.

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    3. 7.3

      toofamiliar17

      I honestly think most of these are substantially below what they’ll ultimately sign for. Looks to me like Spotrac is off quite a bit on the low side with a lot of these.

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    4. 7.4

      David DeLeon

      I would throw money at Bell if there was a chance of him leaving, but i doubt it. Kawann Short or Poe as well.

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      1. 7.4.1

        macabee

        David,

        Here’s another opinion on the players you ask about. I would have no idea! Enjoy.

        http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2688899-2017-nfl-free-agency-projecting-the-price-tag-of-the-top-20-available-players

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  8. 8

    cgmaster27

    Another great breakdown Trevor. Your articles just keep getting better. I for one and big on signing WIll because A. he is still so young, B, we aren’t in a position to lose good depth, and C, he’s big enough to play inside as well and that versatility is a good thing. You don’t overpay for him of course, but for the salary you had him at, the 6.5 5 mill a year range, would be just fine with me. We should be cutting some dead weight salaries anyways so why not?

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  9. 9

    seat26

    Gholston is an example of being patient with a pick that was a value pick to begin with. It took him a few years but he has developed into a strong Defensive lineman, and he is worth the money. GIve him a good contract, lock him down, and lets go get some more.

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  10. 10

    BucsPhan2Phear

    I hope Mark Cook understands you may need a new contract too. Again, excellent detail with original research. I think too many people have forgotten that Jacquees Smith ( Our best pass rusher last year) and George Johnson (A guy we traded for) are still on the roster. We would be able to get both of them for lower than cost that will Gholston would cost with both under contract…for 2017. A run stoping defensive end in a 4-3 may not be an appropriate place to spend that type of $$ in a 4-3 in this system given the history of both Mike Smith and Jay Hayes. Perhaps a real nose tackle makes sense. Gholston is a classic 5 tech. I wish there was some source that tracked the plays and the techniques these players played to track what they do best because I’m not sure if some of the compared players play as much 5 tech as he does.

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  11. 11

    plopes808

    Granted, sacks are what earns the big $ for a DE and Gholston has not produced much in that category. However, his value and production in the run game cant be denied. We have Smith and Spence as our pash rushers, we need a good run stopper for running downs and there isnt a better option out there at the moment.

    In summary, pay the man please! We have too much cap space to justify letting him walk. Put a few prove it incentives in there to protect the team and let him earn the money…he deserves the opportunity.

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  12. 12

    yuccaneers

    Backloading Gholston contract makes absolutely no sense! You would want to front load it – have the bulk of his guaranteed and P5 coming in the first year or two. Especially when you look at the roster as a whole and look at it in three-year increments of when contract are set to expire.

    Between now and 2019 the team will have to make some decisions, on what many believe is it core foudnation of players.

    Winston is set hit his option in 2019. Which means if the team exercises it, it will be roughly $22M – if they can not work out a long-term agreement during the 2018 season.

    Mike Evans is entering his four year with a team option in 2018 – which means he is set for a raise in the $11-$14M APY range.

    Then you have Kwon Alexander, Donovan Smith, Cameron Brate, Adam Humphries and Ali Marpet all eligible for free agency at the on-set of the 2019 season .

    Kevin Pamphile is set for free agency after this year. That is eight players that could potentially eat up roughly $80M or nearly 50% of the team cap space in 2019 – so backloading Gholston deal is not a desirable situation Licht wants to find himself in.

    It needs to be worked as a typical Buccaneers contract with no signing bonus and the guaranteed money coming in 2017 & 2018 with his cap number dropping significantly in the back end.

    The other smart money move would be to get Mike Evans deal done this off-season and front load it to allow for far greater flexibility in 2019.

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    1. 12.1

      toofamiliar17

      I’d prefer to wait on Mike, unless he’s going to take a significant discount on his market value by getting an extension so early. Outside of that, I don’t think there’s really any reason to extend him right now – we just take on a lot more risk, with no real reward to balance it out.

      We need to pick up Mike’s 5th year option within the next month or so, and then start negotiations. If Mike and his agent are set on being paid full market value for his second deal, then you make him play 2017 before giving it to him, and you get a deal done next offseason.

      Think about it this way – if we’re going to reset the WR market with a ridiculously huge contract for Evans, then there’s no risk whatsoever to waiting to do so. If he has a down year or gets hurt, then it could give us some leverage we didn’t have before to bring his price down a bit. If he goes out and repeats his 2016, then you pay him the same exact monster contract you would have anyways. If the only way to lock him up now is to pay huge, then it does us no damage to just wait.

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  13. 13

    yuccaneers

    One last thing, while Gholston age might be a factor in creating some additional value on the open market – there are plenty of quality run stopping defensive ends that can be had in the $3-$4M range every off-season. To over pay for a player that offers little upside after four years in the league of creating pressure and paying him like he is a mid-tier pass rusher is ludicrous, in your editorial you pose the question then you use data points for players who are al considered pass rusher in differing tiers.

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    1. 13.1

      wnb0395

      Thats exactly what the Bucs said when they let Bennet walk years ago.

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      1. 13.1.1

        toofamiliar17

        Eh, that’s not a great comparison. Bennett had already shown himself to be an incredibly disruptive pass rusher. He totaled 9 sacks in his last season here, in addition to leading or nearly leading the league in hits/pressures. He was also versatile in the biggest way, able to be a dominant pass rusher outside on the end or inside as a DT. Gholston isn’t and never will be the pass rushing force Bennett is (and was when he was here, by the way).

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    2. 13.2

      Naplesfan

      The problem with your reasoning is that Gholston is a known and proven quantity, and all those mythical cheap guys out there are not known or proven quantities – that is, known and proven to the Bucs coaches and proven performers in our defense playing side by side with the rest of our players.

      The real cost of uncertainty always has to be added to all those supposedly cheap alternatives. As wnb0395 writes, failure to account for that uncertainty, over and over again, is how you end up as the Bucs prior to Light and Koetter – i.e., perennial losers.

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  14. 14

    GoldsonAges

    Good article.
    I am happy if they want to pay him even up to 7.5 million, but as always prefer it to be front loaded as per the Glazers MO so he doesnt cause any salary cap dramas in the final years of the deal if he is injured or ineffetive and needs to be cut loose.

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  15. 15

    scubog

    I’ve always been a believer in trying to retain and reward players who have earned it and refrain from seeking outside help in free agency that often fails to produce the desired results. Gholston is one of those guys whose efforts can easily go unnoticed (unless the gets a penalty flag) by those only impressed by sacks. The closer observer can easily see #92’s worth when it comes to defending the run. All teams declare they “want to establish the run” and many would continue to do it if successful. Just as the Cowboys and Saints did in Gholston’s absence. His injury as the season reached the turning point may well have cost us a playoff spot.

    I say Licht should pay him what he is worth on the open market. Pay him what you’d be willing to pay an outsider with similar credentials. Let your willingness to pay your own players serve as incentive to the other up and coming players on the roster. Then when he’s locked up, teach him how to rush the passer and stop taking him out on third down. Not being in the game on third down just might have contributed to his limited sack total.

    Trevor: You are a great addition to the Pewter Report team. Let’s hope you stay a while and not take a better offer elsewhere if Scott goes low ball on you.

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    1. 15.1

      Trevor Sikkema

      I appreciate that, Scubog! And don’t worry, I don’t plan on it.

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  16. 16

    Buc 1976

    Sige him and see if someone like maybe Cleavland would trade for him. Maybe San Francisco might. If we can’t trade him this year maybe next.
    I would like to have the kid from Villanova if he is available in third or fourth round he is very long and at some point be better than Gholston.

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    1. 16.1

      Trevor Sikkema

      #SigeTheDay? I’m just messing with you, Buc 1976!

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      1. 16.1.1

        Buc 1976

        My slip up!
        I would like to know what you think of the Villanova DE.

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        1. 16.1.1.1

          Trevor Sikkema

          I will probably have an in-depth write-up on him at some point, but from the couple of games of his I’ve watched and seeing him at the Senior Bowl, he’s very unique.

          Length is a gift and curse. He actually did pretty well when lined up as a defensive tackle working inside. The problem with him on the edge is that it’ll always be hard/impossible for him to bend at his waist the way he needs to to get around and edge. That caps his potential – never a good thing going into a draft.

          He wins in different ways, but he’s a very interest eval. He’s still a high Day 3 guy, I think.

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  17. 17

    JayBuc52

    I also believe that past performance is a future predictor. I saw what happened when he wan’t in the lineup and this defense just wasn’t the same. He had a lot to do with the 5 game win streak. You can’t break the bank for a non-pass rusher but I think you try to keep him because there are no good long term alternatives in the draft or young enough free agents.

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  18. 18

    toofamiliar17

    Great work, Trevor, as usual. I miss you at BucsNation, but PR is much better for having your player and film analysis on hand. Keep it up.

    There’s sometimes a difference between what a player is truly worth and what he’s worth to a particular team. I don’t think Gholston is likely to truly deliver on a deal that pays him like that. That said, in OUR specific situation – particularly the part where we have a ton of cap room – I think WE’RE better off paying him a bit above his true value than by letting him walk. If that was the final number, I’d pay him.

    And there is real upside with this deal. He’s never going to be a true pass rusher, but it wouldn’t be surprising for him to actually continue to get even better against the run while incrementally increasing his pass rushing production as he enters his physical prime.

    It seems arbitrary, but you have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. I wouldn’t go over $7M per for him. Anything below that, and I’m good with paying to keep him here.

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    1. 18.1

      Trevor Sikkema

      Your second paragraph is so spot on. I completely agree.

      Most of the numbers in my third section are salary cap numbers, not a complete measurement of what he’s paid in total, but 7mil is a good cap in terms of salary cap numbers on him, yes.

      I don’t think he’ll go for more than that, especially with him wanting to remain in Tampa. I expect a good deal to get done for both sides, honestly.

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      1. 18.1.1

        toofamiliar17

        I hope you’re right.

        If I was going to throw a number out as to what I think he’s genuinely worth, I’d say something like $5.5M per year. The reality is that not only is run defense not THAT difficult to find from a DE, but it’s really not all that valuable, either. Even for teams as a whole….it’s just not that important. Consider this: 7 playoff teams found themselves among the bottom 16 teams in the league in YPC allowed, including the Falcons, who of course play for the SB this week.

        Last year, it was more of the same – 7 of the 12 playoff teams were below the median in YPC allowed.

        Beyond that, think back to our Bucs teams in recent years that were legitimately dominant against the run – not a one of them was even almost a playoff team.

        I obviously haven’t sat down and actually tracked this to say for sure, but my guess would be that among passing offense, passing defense, rushing offense, and rushing defense, rushing defense performance has far and away the weakest correlation of all of them with winning.

        All of this is simply to reconfirm – you can only pay a rush defense specialist DE so much. Even if we are mediocre or even bad against the run next year, we very likely WILL make the playoffs if our passing offense and defense are strong.

        I honestly think that the only reason I’m even comfortable paying Gholston that $6.75M figure you came up with is that he’s still so young, and there is still some upside in his ability to rush the passer. As you touched on in this Cover 3, there’s a lot more to pass rushing than sacks. I still think Will can be a guy who can collapse the pocket at a decent rate in the future. Between that upside, his youth, and the sure thing of his run defense, I’m willing to pay him more than I would most run stuffing DEs.

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        1. 18.1.1.1

          Naplesfan

          toofamiliar1 – I had a few minutes to kill and downloaded all of the 2016 team stats for passing yards against and rushing yards against, and passing yards for and rushing yards for, for each of the 32 teams. Then I plopped them into an Excel spreadsheet along with the team total wins (not counting ties), and ran a quick R squared regression of each stat line to team wins. Sounds like more work that it is but it’s quick and easy in Excel.

          The bottom line is that none of the passing or rushing stats, for or against, correlated strongly to team wins at all. For those who aren’t well versed in regression analysis, a perfect fit of two sets of related data would have an R squared of 1.0, meaning one stat line perfectly aligns with the other. R values of less than 0.5 indicate a weak correlation, and a negative R value indicates an inverse correlation.

          The strongest R value was minus 0.421 on – sorry, but you guessed incorrectly here – rushing yards against.

          The the negative sign indicates that the lower the rushing yards against, the more wins, which at least seems intuitively correct … while the passing yards against was actually inverse to that, with a positive R squared, meaning that the more passing yards allowed the more team wins, which is of course counter-intuitive … though this was a very weak R squared of only 0.202.

          The passing and rushing yards for stats were both positively – as one might expect – correlated with wins, but again, very weakly at only 0.317 and 0.151, respectively.

          Of course there are many other offensive and defensive stat lines besides total yards for and against, both rushing and passing. But the total yards seems to be the bottom line stat for passing and rushing, offense and defense. And the correlations are weak if not inverse.

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          1. 18.1.1.1.1

            toofamiliar17

            That’s really interesting. Thanks for doing that and for sharing. Very interesting results. I might have to reconsider my above expressed viewpoint….

            One thought, though – I generally much prefer efficiency stats (i.e. yards per carry and yards per attempt) to volume stats (raw yardage totals). It’s very possible that the teams that allowed the most rushing yardage in the league did so largely because they were down by significant margins more often and for longer periods, a setting that always results in an opponent running more than they otherwise would. Similarly, if a team had a big lead, their opponent would run less, leading to depressed yardage totals.

            I’m not sure how directly revealing those correlations are when we’re talking about raw totals, but it’s an interesting place to start. I think I’ll run some regressions myself using efficiency measures. I’ll come back and share what I find.

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  19. 19

    deeznuts

    I think 5-6$ million per year over 4 years with ~7million guaranteed Is reasonable. I think it would hurt both parties by him leaving. Great run stuffer, not a good pass rusher. Mostly a situational guy (1st down, 3rd and short, goaline). He can also kick inside and play DT in a pinch. Licht should talk to Kwon and lavonte first..theyve made a living playing behind that giant. I’m still holding my breath in hopes that he’ll turn out to be as good as his cousin, Vernon of OSU, was supposed to be.

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