HOUSTON -- It was late on a Saturday night in January, just a few weeks after Deshaun Watson enrolled at Clemson. Tigers offensive coordinator Jeff Scott, who was meeting a recruit on campus by Clemson's Memorial Stadium, saw two people running on the field under the emergency lights.
Scott quickly realized that it was Watson and his freshman roommate, wide receiver Artavis Scott, now a Chargers rookie. They were using the flashlight on a phone to see the plays they were running.
"They had only been on campus for about two weeks, and I knew right then, I was like, 'Wow, here it is. It's a Saturday night, the lights are off in the stadium, it's 35 degrees, and these guys are out here running through plays,'" Jeff Scott said.
That night in Clemson was an early sign of Watson’s great work ethic and desire to transition quickly to the next level, qualities that set him on a path to dominate in college and become the 12th overall pick by the Houston Texans.
Watson came to Houston noticeably prepared for rookie minicamp, and he impressed on the first day of team meetings.
"The one thing that stood out to me is, really, his work ethic and how dedicated he is to doing it," Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan said. "Today is a day off for him officially, but I just went down to the quarterback room. He's in there, he's studying, and I just think that's how he's approached it since he walked in here. His approach to it, how serious he is about it and his professional demeanor for a young guy has been impressive for me."
As impressive as Watson was during offseason workouts, he is still a rookie who enters training camp as unproven Tom Savage’s understudy. The Texans, who have won the AFC South the past two seasons and return the NFL's top-ranked defense, have playoff expectations, even though their biggest question is at the most important position in the game.
Is Watson capable of stepping in and leading a team primed for a playoff run? Watson's time at Clemson showed that he is capable of picking up a complex offense and rising up the depth chart quickly.
"[He's] uncommon. It's unbelievable," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "I don't really know how to articulate what I know about him. And [comparing him to Michael Jordan] is the only way I know how to do it. All those great ones, the Michael Jordans, the Steph Currys, the LeBron Jameses, the Joe Montanas, the Tom Bradys ... there's a uniqueness to them. There's something to them. Yes, you can see talent. But there's this other stuff that you cannot see until you really get around it every day. And that's what he's got. And how to articulate that, I don't really know, other than this is going to be a great 30 for 30 one of these days."
The rookie QB challenge
To open the season as the Texans' starting quarterback, Watson will have to beat Savage, who has been with the Texans for three years; the organization drafted him in the fourth round in 2014. But Savage has played in only two of those three seasons because he missed 2015 with a shoulder injury suffered in a preseason game.
General manager Rick Smith and coach Bill O'Brien said on draft night that Savage would be their starter.
Since the Texans traded Brock Osweiler in March, O'Brien has emphasized how difficult it is for a rookie quarterback to start in the NFL. He and Smith echoed those comments after they drafted Watson, despite the fact that the Texans paid a heavy price (their 2017 first-round pick at No. 25 and a 2018 first-round pick) to trade up to the No. 12 pick to get him.
There's this other stuff that you cannot see until you really get around it every day. And that's what he's got. And how to articulate that, I don't really know, other than this is going to be a great 30 for 30 one of these days.
- Dabo Swinney on Deshaun Watson
Last season, the Texans' offense ranked 29th in passing yards per game and 31st in touchdowns with Osweiler and Savage under center. Despite the lackluster QB play, Houston won the AFC South with a 9-7 record, beat the Raiders in a wild-card playoff game and stuck with the Patriots for one half on the road in Foxborough during the divisional round. Much of that can be credited to the NFL's No. 1 defense that now returns J.J. Watt, who missed most of the previous season with a back injury.
To take the next step -- reaching the AFC Championship Game for the first time in team history -- Houston needs much-improved play from its quarterback.
The Texans have two options in that department: an unproven starter who showed flashes in his brief stint in relief of Osweiler last season but who has not thrown an NFL touchdown and a rookie who dominated in college but has work to do in his transition to the NFL.
Rookie quarterbacks have had varying success in the NFL in recent years, although the Dallas Cowboys hit the jackpot last season in fourth-round pick Dak Prescott, who led them to a 13-3 record after winning the starting job when injuries felled Tony Romo and Kellen Moore. In 2016, Prescott and Raiders fourth-round pick Connor Cook started playoff games, each losing his lone start. According to ESPN Stats & Information, 16 rookie quarterbacks have started a playoff game in the Super Bowl era (since 1966). None has ever reached the Super Bowl.
Since 2006, when QBR was first tracked, rookie quarterbacks who were drafted in the first round have a combined record of 131-176, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Of the 29 quarterbacks taken in the first round since then, five have started a playoff game -- but none since Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III in 2012.
Texans backup quarterback Brandon Weeden said Watson is showing that he is capable of quickly making the jump to the NFL.
"He's a very smart guy," Weeden said. "He retains information very well, so he's kind of ahead of the curve. He's doing a lot of great things. This is a challenging system for a quarterback, but I think he's taking all the right steps and putting in the work to get better."
Although Watson is a rookie, players have gravitated toward him in the locker room, and he is already earning the respect of his new teammates.
"When you watched him, or at least when we watched him in the building here around our players, it was pretty apparent that that leadership trait that he has, it's infectious," Smith said.
Added offensive assistant Pat O'Hara: "I think he has that [leadership] about him without saying a word. He has a nature about him that I think people go to him. I think he has a real strong personality that's maybe not real, real vocal, but that's OK. But he has a presence about him that's real positive. A really poised man. But no, he doesn't need to be out there screaming and yelling. He just kind of gets that respect. That's something that's hard to find, and Deshaun has that."
Watson displayed this leadership early in his time at Clemson, and Swinney said it was strongest when he was leading by example. In meeting rooms, Watson had a presence that made players want to work harder and get better.
"He's always taking notes, always writing things down. He's just so engaged in everything," Swinney said. "Every time I'm around him, whether he's heard something 100 times, he's so engaged as if he's never heard it. And that sends such a great message to everyone else. That's a way to impact your teammates without ever saying a word."
"Learning a new language"
The hardest part for Watson during this transition is starting from scratch and learning the terminology and playbook of an NFL system, according to O'Brien. The basics are even tough, things that most people don't think about, such as how the team huddles, how to call a play and the verbiage of a play call. The list goes on.
"It's like learning a new language," O'Brien said.
But Watson isn't a stranger to the challenges of quickly learning a complex scheme. He had to do the same thing at Clemson. Jeff Scott recalled how Watson blew away the Tigers' coaching staff with how quickly he picked up the playbook as a true freshman.
His whole freshman year, we set the world record for using the word 'wow' on the headsets.
- Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott
While preparing for the first game of the 2014 season against Georgia, Clemson's coaching staff warned their quarterbacks about an exotic blitz the Bulldogs might run that would cause a problem if they didn't make a major pre-snap adjustment. It was a blitz the defense brought less than 2 percent of the time, but because of the problems it could cause if Georgia ran it, the Tigers wanted to be prepared.
On the first series of Watson's college career, Georgia called that blitz. Watson saw it coming immediately before the snap, made the calls to his teammates to make the adjustment and threw a 30-yard touchdown over the defender in a very tight window.
"That whole scenario is something you would hope your junior or senior veteran quarterback would be able to do," Scott said. "And for him to be able to go in his very first drive as a true freshman on that stage and not only see it, recognize it, make the adjustments and then be able to stand in the pocket and be able to make that tight throw in that window, that was a moment that all of us on the headsets went, ‘Wow. This kid really is special.' That was a really big moment for us.
"His whole freshman year, we set the world record for using the word ‘wow' on the headsets."
It might not be long before the Texans' coaching staff is having the same reaction. During the Texans' mandatory minicamp, O'Brien said Watson was getting "better every day." At his introductory news conference, Watson promised to "be a sponge" when he got to Houston, and thus far, he has been that.
"He's done a great job of taking the information from the night before and taking it to the field," O'Hara said. "He's really been ahead of the game with that, and that's been good to see.”
One of the knocks on Watson is the spread offense he ran at Clemson. The Tigers' system has typically placed some limitations on the quarterback so they can play up-tempo, according to Scott. But the offensive coordinator insisted that Watson changed that approach, taking over the protections and earning the right to have "a lot of freedom in the offense to change plays" at the line of scrimmage.
O'Brien said the Texans noticed that while watching Watson's film from Clemson.
"We studied every game that he played. There were several things that were put on his plate in his career," O'Brien said. "I can tell you just from watching film, he had to do several things, whether it was signaling a formation to wide receivers or changing protection at the line of scrimmage or going from one play to the next."
For the coaching staff that knows Watson the best, it was irritating to see a pre-draft focus on something the young quarterback could not control.
"That was something that was frustrating for us as coaches over the last six months, listening to the stuff that we would hear when people may question Deshaun and the offense he played in, the terminology and whether he could pick that up," Scott said. "And there's no doubt, for all quarterbacks, there's a transition. It's probably the toughest transition in all of major league sports, going to be an NFL quarterback. But we know Deshaun better than anybody. And Deshaun is one of these guys that he was always thirsty for more.
"He stretched us as coaches. We put in more stuff because he wanted more stuff. He could take everything you could give him and more. And he's one of these guys that, you tell him one time, and he gets it. He's a perfectionist. He's going to work on it. You can tell him something in a meeting, and three weeks later, he can bring it right back up and know exactly where it is in his notebook.
"And I think a lot of people on the outside that didn't know Deshaun as well as we did, they could see his athletic ability, the throws that he can make and his savviness in games, but they could not really understand how smart [he is]. … I feel one of his strengths is his football IQ and his knowledge. ... He just processes things so quickly."
Ready to compete
With training camp approaching, Smith and O’Brien will soon have a decision to make: Sit Watson and let him learn, or truly let him compete with Savage for the starting job. Even if Savage begins the season as Houston’s starter, he likely will be on a short leash. If he is ineffective early in the season -- or is unable to stay healthy -- the Texans might have little choice but to turn to Watson.
As a player who started at Clemson and was a five-star recruit out of high school, Watson is used to being the No. 1 guy. But it didn't start out that way. Watson got injured during spring football before his freshman season, so Clemson gave senior Cole Stoudt the starting job. But the Tigers still got Watson some playing time, and over a couple of games, he took advantage of his opportunity and was named the Tigers' starting quarterback.
Watson said he plans to employ the same mindset as he tries to win the quarterback job in Houston.
"I was a starter at Clemson the past three years, but each and every day, I would go into the day thinking I'm not the starter and I could lose my job. So for me, that's natural," Watson said. "I'm a competitor. I'm going to compete each and every day to get better."
Scott said Watson's demeanor stood out to him after Watson missed out on the starting job as a freshman because "he never was panicking early in the year that he's got to start. He knew he was going to get his opportunities."
While Watson has, of course, communicated his desire to start for the Texans, Swinney said he can't see there being any drama from Watson over the starting job.
"If he's the starter, great. If he's not, you won't hear a word from Deshaun," Swinney said. "He's just going to keep working and show up every day and keep preparing for when his time comes. That's just how he is. He is a low-maintenance superstar."
Even though Savage has played in only five games in two NFL seasons, he certainly has a leg up in his knowledge of O'Brien's system. However, he is still an unproven starter who hasn't been able to stay healthy. And now the guy many consider to be the best rookie quarterback prospect is waiting in the wings.
Whether Watson is the starter in Week 1 of 2017 or Week 1 of 2018 or anytime in between, the Texans hope they have found their first true franchise quarterback.
According to the University of Texas police department, officers initially responded to a report of marijuana smell coming from three cars parked outside a residence hall at 12:24 a.m. Sunday.
Foreman, whom police described as the owner of the firearm, was taken into custody and later released on bond. Six other men were cited for possession of marijuana and released.
Foreman's attorney, Chip B. Lewis, said in a statement that the running back was in Austin to visit friends, possessed the handgun legally and that he did not use the marijuana, which was not his, but belonged to a passenger in the vehicle.
"As he was leaving their residence, he was approached by police. Prior to a search of his vehicle, D'Onta alerted the officer that he had a handgun inside of his vehicle. This legal handgun was recently purchased by D'Onta and registered in his name. The handgun was properly secured inside of his vehicle as required by Texas law. A passenger in D'Onta's vehicle was in possession of marijuana. D'Onta did not use or possess the marijuana. Upon making his bond, he will submit to a urinalysis to confirm he has not used marijuana.
Are the Houston Texans destined to win a third straight AFC South title in 2017? Our roundtable give their picks for who will win the division and how many playoff teams will emerge from the AFC South.
Sarah Barshop, Texans reporter: The Titans will just edge out the Texans for the division title in the 2017 campaign. Tennessee came close last season, and with a healthy Marcus Mariota, the Titans could prevent the Texans' three-peat of AFC South crowns. If Houston finishes 9-7 again, it could take one of the two wild-card spots, as well. With the improvements that the four teams -- especially the Titans and the Jaguars -- made this offseason, this will be a tougher race, and Houston will have a much tougher time going 5-1 against the division again.
Michael DiRocco, Jaguars reporter: The Titans have steadily improved since finishing 2-14 in 2014, and they will win the AFC South in 2017. General manager Jon Robinson added playmakers to help Mariota in the pass game and signed a pair of new secondary starters (including cornerback Logan Ryan) to help a defense that must contend with Andrew Luck twice a year. The Texans still have the best defense in the division, but an uncertain situation at quarterback will keep them from winning their third consecutive AFC South title. Luck will keep Indianapolis in contention, but the Colts still have a lot of work to do along the offensive line and in replacing an aging defense. The Jaguars don't know what they'll get from quarterback Blake Bortles, their offensive line is shaky and they don't have a proven pass-rusher other than defensive end Calais Campbell. The Titans will be the only team to make the playoffs.
Mike Wells, Colts reporter: The AFC South isn’t a good enough division to have more than one team make the playoffs. Maybe the third time will be the charm for me this time around. I picked the Colts in each of the past two seasons, only to have them finish with an 8-8 record and watch the Texans win the division. What the heck, let’s go with Indy again. New general manager Chris Ballard focused on improving the defense during the offseason. He signed or drafted 13 defensive players, and the Colts could have as many as seven new starters on a unit that finished 30th in the NFL last season. The Colts will be in a good position if that unit could finish somewhere in the teens to go with Luck and that offense. Houston might have won the division in each of the past two seasons, but I think Tennessee, which has put together a solid foundation around Mariota, has a better chance of winning it next season if Indianapolis falters.
Nothing personal, mind you. Just business.
Watt took some shots at Big Baller Brand and Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball on Twitter on Thursday evening. Hyping the JJ II, his second signature training shoe with Reebok that debuted Friday for $99, Watt compared the price point to another shoe that recently hit the market.
"400 dollars less than some shoes on the market and 100% more effective," Watt said in a post.
Followed simply by another:
Ball created quite a sensation Wednesday when, instead of wearing his own ZO2 shoes -- which sell for $495 under Big Baller Brand, his family's independent fashion line -- he wore Nike Kobe A.D. Sneakers at the Las Vegas Summer League.
On Thursday, Ball jogged onto the court in a pair of James Harden's signature Adidas shoes.
"Big Baller Brand, you've got freedom to do whatever you want," Ball said on the ESPN broadcast after the game. "I'm showcasing that."
Who will be MVP of the AFC South this season? Our reporters give their picks:
Sarah Barshop, Houston Texans reporter: Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. The Titans were on the path to win the AFC South late last season, led by Mariota. Tennessee had won four out of five games down the stretch -- two of which were against playoff teams -- before Mariota suffered a fractured fibula in the third quarter of Week 16. The Titans helped Mariota by drafting receivers Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor -- who should be upgrades over Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe -- and tight end Jonnu Smith, who will create a solid duo with Delanie Walker. Along with running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, the Titans could have the best offense in the AFC South.
Michael DiRocco, Jacksonville Jaguars reporter: Mariota will top 3,500 yards passing and throw for 30-plus touchdowns, but more importantly, he will guide the Titans to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Mariota has steadily improved in his first two seasons and should be even more effective now that the Titans have added more options in the passing game (Eric Decker, Davis, Taylor) to go along with a good pair of punishing running backs and a very good offensive line. Mariota still has work to do -- his completion percentage is 61.6 percent, and it needs to be better than 65 percent -- but he has thrown only 19 interceptions in two seasons. He will have the best season of his career, and the Titans will win the division.
Mike Wells, Indianapolis Colts reporter: Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has thrown for at least 3,800 yards and at least 23 touchdowns in four of his five seasons while playing behind an offensive line that often left him battered, bruised and missing games. The Colts are in position to give Luck the best group of offensive linemen of his career, because they return their core players at that position group for the first time in the quarterback's six seasons. Combine that with the Colts also returning their top skill position players, and Luck could have a career season while leading one of the league's top offenses.
Reebok signed Derek Watt, who plays fullback for the Los Angeles Chargers, last year and announced Wednesday that it had T.J. Watt, a linebacker who was picked 30th overall in this year's draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The three are the only football players Reebok currently has under contract.
"We grew up pretending to be NFL players in the backyard," J.J. Watt, 28, said. "Now we're doing it for real, and there's nobody I'd rather have representing my brand and giving me honest feedback than my brothers."
Watt said he frequently bounces ideas off his brothers when it comes to suggesting new products.
"It works out perfectly," said T.J. Watt, who is 22. "J.J. and I are six years apart, so he knows what people his age might be looking for, and I have the younger people covered."
"Yeah, J.J. has the older people covered," Derek Watt, 24, joked.
J.J. Watt's second signature training shoe, the JJ II, debuts Friday at a price point of $99.
"Growing up in a middle class family, I knew what it was like to want the most expensive shoe and not be able to get it."
Watt said he made a couple technical tweaks to the shoe this year, including traction on the bottom of the shoe that allows him to backtrack on turf.
"What makes it different from last year is we've gone from higher ankle support to a low top to make it a more fashionable shoe once you leave the gym."
Which player, coach or front-office executive in the AFC South is on the hottest seat this season? Our roundtable reporters give their picks.
Sarah Barshop, Houston Texans reporter: Colts coach Chuck Pagano. The future of Pagano, who signed a four-year contract extension after the 2015 season, has been in doubt the past two offseasons. The Colts fired general manager Ryan Grigson after last season and hired Chris Ballard. Pagano has a 49-31 regular-season record in five seasons with Indianapolis, but the Colts failed to make the playoffs the past two years. If the Colts fail to play past Week 17 again -- or perhaps even get off to a slow start -- Pagano could see his Indy tenure end this season.
Michael DiRocco, Jacksonville Jaguars reporter: It's easily Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, who enters a make-or-break season. He had what appeared to be a breakout campaign in 2015 by setting single-season franchise records for passing yards (4,428) and passing TDs (35), but he followed that with a disappointing 2016. Bortles threw 23 TD passes last season but was intercepted 16 times, regressed mechanically with his footwork and delivery, and admitted he was a mess mentally at the end of the season. The Jaguars picked up his fifth-year option, but that's guaranteed for injury only so he has to prove this season that he can be the long-term starter. Bortles' biggest issues are decision-making, accuracy and turnovers. Over the past three seasons, he has committed the most turnovers (63) and thrown the second-most interceptions (51) of any player in the NFL. If his decision-making and accuracy (mechanics) improve, he should be able to cut down on turnovers significantly. If not, he'll likely be looking for a new home in 2018.
Mike Wells, Indianapolis Colts reporter: Take out a coin and toss it in the air. Heads, it's Pagano. Tails, it's Bortles. It landed on heads. The Colts head coach has managed to survive back-to-back 8-8 seasons and the firing of Grigson, but Pagano's chances of keeping his job could be running out. After Colts owner Jim Irsay hired Ballard as the new general manager, Pagano can't afford to miss the playoffs for the third straight season in what has been one of the weaker divisions in the NFL. Pagano wasn't Ballard’s handpicked choice, so all eyes will be on the coach throughout the season.
Who is the AFC South's biggest rising star? Our roundtable members give their picks.
Sarah Barshop, Houston Texans reporter: Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey, Jacksonville's first-round pick a year ago, was a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate, and he almost exclusively took on the opposing team's No. 1 wide receiver one-on-one. He finished the season as Pro Football Focus' 22nd-ranked cornerback. Last season, the Texans saw how good he can be when they faced the Jaguars for the second time in Week 15. Ramsey went up against DeAndre Hopkins, breaking up a fourth-down pass in the end zone and stopping the wideout short of a first down to force the Texans to kick a field goal. And Ramsey defended Hopkins well on a third-down pass that would have moved the chains. Now Ramsey will have help in the form of former Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye, which should take some pressure off the young corner and help him take another step forward in his second season.
Michael DiRocco, Jacksonville Jaguars reporter: Houston defensive end Jadeveon Clowney had a disappointing first two seasons with the Texans, but was finally healthy (for the most part) in 2017. That allowed him to have a breakout season with a career-high six sacks, 17 QB hits and 16 tackles for loss. It was the kind of season many expected the No. 1 overall pick to have as a rookie in 2014, but various injuries kept him from being effective. Now that he's healthy, Clowney should be even more of a force in 2017, especially with J.J. Watt returning after missing 13 games last season due to a back injury. Opponents will double-team Watt -- he is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and a four-time All-Pro -- so Clowney should end up with a double-digit sack total.
Mike Wells, Indianapolis Colts reporter: Running back Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville’s first-round pick, is already a talented player. For Jacksonville to make him the fourth overall pick, that had to be the case, and the Jaguars will likely rely on him a great deal during his rookie season. Quarterback Blake Bortles has done very little to prove he’s ready to be the Jaguars' franchise player. What better way to help ease Bortles’ workload and limit his mistakes than by feeding the ball to Fournette -- who rushed for 3,830 yards in just three seasons at LSU -- out of the backfield? The strategy worked for Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota after the Titans added DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. The same goes for Dallas’ Dak Prescott with Ezekiel Elliott.
Today's question: Which newcomer will make the biggest impact in the AFC South this season?
Sarah Barshop, Houston Texans reporter: Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette. The Jaguars ranked 22nd in the league last season in rushing yards per game and were led by T.J. Yeldon, who ran for 465 yards, and Chris Ivory, who ran for 439 yards. Now the Jaguars have a big, physical back who can not only take the bulk of carries, but also can get into the end zone. Over the past two seasons, Jacksonville has only 13 rushing touchdowns -- five of which were scored by quarterback Blake Bortles. Fournette scored 40 rushing touchdowns in his three-year career at LSU and should prove to be a playmaker on the Jaguars' offense and help improve a unit that struggled last season. If all goes to plan, Fournette will thrive as a rookie and the balance he brings to the Jaguars' offense could help Bortles have the best season of his career.
Michael DiRocco, Jacksonville Jaguars reporter: There are a lot of worthy candidates, but I think Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell will make the biggest impact. The Jaguars ranked sixth in total defense last season, but their weaknesses were the pass rush and a lack of turnovers. Campbell has 56.5 sacks in his nine seasons and has recorded at least five sacks in each of the past eight seasons, including a career-high nine in 2013 and eight last season. The Jaguars' pass rush was hit and miss and Campbell brings some much-needed consistency. A better pass rush usually means more chances to create turnovers, which is something the Jaguars have struggled to do. Jacksonville has forced the fewest turnovers since 2014 (51), and Jaguars defensive backs have intercepted just 11 passes in the past three seasons. That's by far the worst in the division (Houston DBs picked off 46).
Mike Wells, Indianapolis Colts reporter: We can’t call him a newcomer to the division because he played in it last season, but I’m going with Jacksonville cornerback A.J. Bouye. After spending the previous four seasons with Houston, Bouye will now try to help the Jaguars knock the Texans off the top of the AFC South. The addition of Bouye to go with second-year standout Jalen Ramsey should give the Jaguars one of the top cornerback duos in the league this season. Bouye, who went from being Houston’s fourth cornerback at the start of last season to its best by the end of the season, had 63 tackles, a sack, an interception and 16 passes deflected during the regular season and an interception in each of its two playoff games.
It's one thing to start your own company and convince investors to help your cause -- but how about doing it at 12 years old? For brainchild Mikaila Ulmer and her lemonade company Me & The Bees Lemonade, no problem.
Ulmer started selling the flaxseed lemonade sweetened with honey from a stand in her hometown of Austin, Texas, using a family recipe from the 1940s her great-grandmother gave her. A portion of her lemonade profits go to organizations that work to fight colony collapse disorder, which has devastated bee populations. In other words, she is working to save the honey bees.
Ulmer has already been on "Shark Tank," receiving $60,000 dollars worth of investments, and appeared on "Good Morning America." But who she has recently caught the eye of is NFL players who want to invest in her company.
According to the Houston Chronicle, former and current NFL players Arian Foster, Glover Quin, Duane Brown, Jonathan Grimes, Omar Bolden, Bobby Wagner, Darius Slay, Sharrick McManis, EJ Manuel and Malik Jackson have combined to invest $810,000 to back the young entrepreneur's lemonade.
The Indianapolis Colts appeared to be set for the future when they had an impressive 2012 draft class that was highlighted by quarterback Andrew Luck. They enjoyed three straight playoff appearances and back-to-back undefeated seasons in the AFC South. But Indianapolis has missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, and the rest of the division slowly is getting better, from top to bottom.
The Colts have Luck, the Titans have Marcus Mariota, and the Texans might have their quarterback of the future in Deshaun Watson. Which team in the division has set itself up for long-term success with the way it is building its overall roster?
Sarah Barshop, Texans reporter: The Titans have set their roster up for the long run, and it starts with Mariota. Before suffering a season-ending injury in Week 16 last year, Mariota was on a run that stacked up well against any quarterback in the NFL. Offensively, Tennessee is set in the backfield with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. The Titans added No. 5 overall pick Corey Davis to their receiving corps, and Delanie Walker is as solid as they come at tight end. The offensive line is strong, and the Titans added to their defense this offseason by signing Super Bowl-winning cornerback Logan Ryan. Last season, Tennessee finished with the same record as the Texans but missed out on the playoffs due to a puzzling late-season loss to the Jaguars. While the Texans hope to have improved quarterback play in 2017, there's no doubt Tennessee is the biggest threat to end Houston's two-year reign atop the division. Moving forward, the Titans' young talent puts them in a great spot to maintain potential success.
Michael DiRocco, Jaguars reporter: I really like what the Titans have done under general manager Jon Robinson and coach Mike Mularkey, who was fired after only one season in Jacksonville. Hitting on Mariota obviously is a big plus, but they’ve also invested heavily in the offensive line and run game -- with right tackle Jack Conklin and running backs Murray and Henry -- which fits right in with Mularkey’s old-school philosophy. Robinson gave Mariota some much-needed weapons for this season, led by rookie receiver Davis, and bolstered the secondary with Adoree' Jackson. The Colts still have a lot of work to do to fix an aging defense. Nobody’s sure whether Watson will be a solid starter for the Texans, and if he takes several seasons to hit his stride, Houston's defensive stars might be on the back end of their careers by then. The Jaguars might be searching for a quarterback after this season, and their offensive line still is one of their biggest weaknesses.
Mike Wells, Colts reporter: I don’t think anybody would have picked any team other than the Colts a few years ago, but I’m going with the team down Interstate 65 from Indianapolis, the Titans. Tennessee general manager Jon Robinson did something former Colts GM Ryan Grigson should have done for Luck a long time ago. He put a solid offensive line (seventh-fewest sacks allowed in the NFL last season) around Mariota and two quality running backs in Murray and Henry to go with him, so the young quarterback doesn’t always have to carry the team. Robinson also addressed the defense during the offseason. The Colts and Titans are in the best position of the four division teams, but Tennessee currently is a step ahead for long-term success.
Joe Thomas will take part in an NFL version of "Celebrity Family Feud" on Sunday night.
Expectations of "good answer" shouts might best be kept to a minimum.
Thomas will join four other current NFL players against a team of NFL legends for a Family Feud that will benefit charity. The hour-long show on ABC starts at 8, and was put together by the NFL Players Association.
Five Hall of Famers will play for the NFL Legends team: Marshall Faulk, Andre Reed, Anthony Munoz, Derrick Brooks and Rod Woodson.
The "Feud" involves contestants trying to choose the answer picked most by a crowd of 100 before the show. Traditionally, players yell "good answer" and applaud their teammates' choices -- unless the answer is a dud. Those answers draw blank stares.
The pressure will be on Thomas to avoid that stare from host Steve Harvey.
The present-day players will donate their winnings to the Professional Athletes Foundation, which helps retired players transition after retirement. The legends will play for Active Minds, which raises mental-health awareness among college students.
Sarah Barshop, Texans reporter: While the Texans didn't make any significant additions to their defense and lost three starters, adding a healthy Watt makes up for their lack of offseason action. Last season, the Texans got big contributions from Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney, and both of their roles will be affected by Watt's return. D.J. Reader also showed he is ready to step in as the starting nose tackle. Without Watt, the defensive line and pass rush were already among the league's best. Adding him likely will take a lot of attention off Mercilus and Clowney from opposing offenses, creating more opportunities for the two young players. If Watt is healthy, the trio will be the NFL's best pass-rushing force and wreak havoc on the league.
Michael DiRocco, Jacksonville Jaguars reporter: Watt's return will make the Texans' defensive front one of the best in the NFL, provided Clowney continues to play at the same level he did in 2016. Clowney played the best football of his career in 2016 (six sacks) and the Texans moved him around to take advantage of matchups. The Texans move Watt around as well, and if he's truly healthy, the team will have two players who can rush the passer from anywhere on the field. That's a nightmare for offensive linemen. The Texans' defense will again be the best in the division and will have to carry the team in 2017, especially if rookie QB Deshaun Watson is on the field. The unit has been good enough to win division titles in 2015 and 2016, and should have them in contention again.
Mike Wells, Indianapolis Colts reporter: Watt rushing the quarterback on one side; Clowney rushing the quarterback on the other side. I think it's safe to say Watt's return will only help a defense that gave up the fewest yards per game last season. Opposing quarterbacks have to know where Watt is lined up on the field at all times. And speaking from a Colts perspective, they know all too well what Watt is capable of. He has 39 tackles and nine sacks (third most against any team he has faced) in 10 career games against Indianapolis. The Texans will need just as good of a performance from their defense -- or better -- to help them win the AFC South for the third straight season. They have question marks at quarterback once again, and the rest of their division rivals should be better offensively this season.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota took another big step in his second NFL season in 2016. He cut down on his interceptions (10 to nine in three more games in 2016), boosted his QBR from 56.5 to 65.2 and continued his remarkable success in the red zone with 33 touchdowns against zero interceptions for his career. And he led the Titans to their first winning record since 2011.
Mariota is clearly on the rise. Will this be the season he surpasses Andrew Luck as king of the AFC South quarterbacks? Our division roundtable weighs in:
Sarah Barshop, Houston Texans reporter: Mariota could overtake Luck this year, but it would take a big season from the third-year quarterback. He would have to stay healthy, lead the Titans to a division title and probably win a playoff game as well. Luck is the most talented quarterback in the division, but his team's success has not mirrored his ability. Mariota had the Titans one win away from a playoff spot last season, and with an improved offensive roster, there's no reason to believe he can't take a big step forward in 2017, building on his impressive run last season.
Michael DiRocco, Jacksonville Jaguars reporter: Possibly, but not anytime soon. Mariota's growth in his first two seasons is impressive. He has had fumble issues (11 lost), but he has thrown six fewer interceptions than Luck (25) despite playing in five more games. He has done that despite having only one receiver with more than 70 combined receptions (tight end Delanie Walker had 159). The Jaguars have had five, the Colts four, and the Texans three. However, Mariota also has had the benefit of playing behind a much better offensive line and last season was helped by the third-best running game in the NFL (the Colts ranked 23rd). Luck has three playoff appearances, including a trip to the AFC Championship Game, and has carried that team when he has been healthy. Mariota hasn't shown the ability to do that -- yet. I think the gap between the two is smaller than most people would think, but until Mariota starts taking the Titans to the playoffs, Luck is still the king of the division.
Mike Wells, Indianapolis Colts reporter: I'm not ready to go that far. Luck is still the best quarterback in the division. He's a top-10 quarterback in the NFL. Luck beat the Titans three straight times while dealing with a shoulder injury that caused him to have surgery on it in January. But Mariota is the second-best quarterback in the division and an argument could be made that the Titans have a better overall team than the Colts. The reason that I won't give Tennessee the edge for first place in the AFC South next season is because of Luck. What got lost in the 2016 season with Indianapolis is that Luck completed a career-high 63.5 percent of his passes and had a QBR rating of 71.2, which also was the best of his career. He also was fifth in the NFL in touchdown passes (31). Luck put up those numbers while being limited in practice at least one day every week last season.