There was a ton of football this weekend. Not the kind that typically has fans at the edge of their seats, but football nonetheless. The NFL preseason kicked off, and with it came an opportunity to see the bulk of young talent that recently entered the league in their first live game action.

On Thursday, the New England Patriots took on the New York Giants, and a lot of local eyes were on former South Dakota State standout Pierre Strong Jr.

Strong was a fourth round pick of the Patriots in April's NFL Draft, and is looking to earn a complimentary role in a crowded New England backfield.

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On Thursday night, Strong Jr. had his first opportunity on an NFL football field, and it's safe to say that he did not disappoint.

The former Jackrabbit led the Patriots in rushing in the preseason opener, finishing with 6 carries for 25 yards. In addition, he caught 1 pass for 0 yards in the close 23-21 defeat to the Giants.

His 4.2 yard per carry average was also the best on the team as the Patriots aim to make the postseason for the second consecutive year.

We'll keep an eye on Strong's progress throughout the preseason, as the 23 year old looks to compete with the likes of Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris for touches this season in the Patriot backfield.

Sources: and Pierre Strong Jr. Wikipedia

Know Your South Dakota College and University Mascots

The college football experience is an ultimate high for football fans and it takes several other teams to make that happen week after week during the season.
Just think about what goes into gameday? First and foremost, the players and coaching staff who put in hours and hours of practice and training to play in front of their fans. Then there's field prep, game officials, live broadcasts, concessions, and on-the-field entertainment. Yep, entertainment.

Second to the game, who do you watch? The cheerleaders? The band at halftime? What about the mascot? That's a job not many people can do.
I asked Sioux Falls native and former Cagey mascot for the Sioux Falls Canaries and Little Red & Herbie for the Nebraska Huskers Nate Welch about being a mascot:

  • What does it take to be a mascot?
  • "Losing a bet or filling an opportunity!" Welch says, "An internal energized desire to love life. After meeting great performers who are introverts out of costume, they become the center of attention when they take the stage. And also feeding off the performance of others."
  • Why does the mascot never talk?
  • "Know your role and shut your mouth. You are there to entertain. Tell the story with your actions and not your voice."
  • Advice to someone putting on that costume for the first time?
  • "Remember you are now in a costume. Have fun. Otherwise, you're just a dork in tights. If the fur ain't flying you ain't trying."

Nate Welch has moved on from his days as a mascot to Executive Director of the Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce and Development Company in Vermillion, South Dakota.

So, can you name the mascots at our South Dakota Colleges and Universities? Check out the gallery below:

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