It was quite an accomplishment when Key West grad Mekhi Sargent made the 53-man Tennessee Titans cutdown squad on Aug. 31. He was to start the season Sunday, Sept. 12, as the Titans’ No. 3 running back against the Arizona Cardinals with Derrick Henry getting most of the carries. 

The NFL Network’s Good Morning Football crew also chose Sargent as one of three running backs — and the only non-drafted player — to make their “Rookie Risers” list. The other two were Pittsburgh’s Najee Harris and New England’s Rhamondre Stevenson. 

The Titans’ network page said Sargent was “easily the team’s best back during the exhibition slate.” 

The University of Iowa product got plenty of opportunity to show what he could do in the preseason and made good, gaining 51 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in the final game against the Chicago Bears. In two previous games, against Tampa Bay and Atlanta, the Conch gained 78 and 58 yards, respectively, both times on 16 carries. He caught a pass in each game. 

In the Bears game, CBS analyst Charles Jones “raved” about him, according to Alex Seats of 247Sports. 

In Sargent’s senior year at Key West High School, he rushed for 2,094 yards and 27 touchdowns, wrote Marc Morehouse for the Iowa Gazette in 2019

“This was a bit of a quest for (Key West football coach) John Hughes,” Morehouse wrote. “He pointed the way to Iowa Western. The Iowa Western coaches saw Sargent at a University of Florida football camp.”

“’My coach at Key West basically led my tour to go to juco,’ Sargent said in 2019. “I didn’t know anything about junior college. He said, ‘That’s an opportunity for you. I think you can go to juco and make the most of it and move forward.’ I took that route and I’m thankful.”

Sargent ended up redshirting his first season at Iowa Western. He didn’t even know you could do that at a junior college.

“My mom, Yolanda Gardner, kept me mentally stable,’ Sargent told Morehouse in 2019 in Iowa. “I just kept working hard, on the scout team and in the weight room. I’d just pay attention to the older guys and do the right things and my time came.”

“‘He put up 1,000 yards as a sophomore and just kept going from there,’ Hughes said. ‘He became kind of a household name throughout South Florida. There were coaches and teams that were just tired of playing him because he was such a physical force. He ran so hard. He was one of those heavy contact guys. You felt it when he hit you.’”

In other sports news…

Centennial romps over Conchs

Key West football coach John Hughes admitted before he and the Conchs headed north to Port

Saint Lucie on Friday, Sept. 3, that he didn’t know much about Centennial’s team. Unfortunately,

Hughes and his team found out the hard way. Key West lost its second game, 42-14.

The Conchs were in trouble by halftime as the Eagles took a 35-7 lead.

Centennial scored but a touchdown in the second half, while the Conchs equaled that one score.

Now, after losing their first two games, Key West gets a week off before playing St. Brendan at

7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17, at the Backyard, the Conchs’ first home game other than the preseason one at the new field behind the high school.

When Key West played Monsignor Pace in its preseason game on Aug. 20, it was up against defensive lineman Shemar Stewart, who is ranked as the No. 5 uncommitted prep player in the country by 247Sports Composite. Other Florida prep players on the list are No. 7, defensive lineman Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy of Lakeland; No. 10, cornerback Jaheim Singletary of  Riverside; No. 12, safety Kamari Wilson of IMG Academy; and No. 19, defensive line Marvin Jones Jr. of American Heritage. 

He’s been away for awhile, but Steve Spurrier apparently is keeping up with the Florida Gators. At the Gators Roundtable, he picked them to defeat Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 18. Let me know if you hear the same prediction elsewhere — other than in Gainesville. Did you watch Alabama beat up on Miami, 44-13, on Sept. 4? Spurrier had a 122-27-1 record when he coached the Gators from 1990 through 2001. 

Is the idea of a 12-team College Football Playoff fading or are so many colleges so hungry for money that it will get back on track?

I don’t like it when television announcers decide to interview someone during the competition, particularly when they don’t tell us what’s happening in the game. 

A few weeks ago when the Miami Marlins were playing the New York Mets, the Marlins’ features announcer, Jessica Blaylock, was interviewing a woman about something when Pete Alonso belted a home run for the Mets. The attention-paying viewer may have seen the homer, but the casual fan would not, because the announcer had her back to the action and never made mention of the long ball. Katie George’s interview of the ACC commissioner dovetailed into the action of Sunday night’s Sept. 5 Florida State-Notre Dame ABC game. Luckily, no major play occurred during her interview. 

It happens a lot in televised sports, particularly golf, in which sponsors are interviewed ad nauseum. 

I think it will only be an intelligent and daring manager to take down the overloaded baseball infield. In a case of “everyone’s doing it,” all pro teams seem to be moving a third infielder to the “other” side to take care of batters when analytics show that’s where they hit the ball. Bunting to the short side might do it, but managers seem hesitant to have their power hunters bunting. They may not be talented in that area. But didn’t we all bunt as kids?

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Veteran sports columnist Ralph Morrow says the only sport he doesn’t follow is cricket. That leaves plenty of others to fill his time.