Former Lenoir-Rhyne star Kyle Dugger has enjoyed a hot start to the 2021 National Football League season. The 25-year-old safety currently leads the New England Patriots in tackles with 21, including 16 solo stops and four tackles for loss.
Dugger has started all four games for the Patriots this season after making seven starts (14 total appearances) as a rookie last year. He has played at least 50 defensive snaps each week while also seeing time on special teams in three contests.
Following a seven-tackle performance in New England’s 17-16 home loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, Dugger finished with three tackles in the team’s only win thus far, a 25-6 road victory over the New York Jets. He also had four tackles in a 28-13 home loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 3 before tallying seven tackles in a 19-17 home defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past Sunday.
New England visits the Houston Texans on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Here’s a look at how other professional athletes with local ties have performed over the past month:
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Ryan Succop, Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker
A Hickory High graduate, Succop had his most productive game of the season this past Sunday, converting 4 of 5 field-goal attempts — he made field goals of 29, 44, 27 and 48 yards while missing a 36-yard try — and his only extra-point attempt of the night. Succop’s 48-yard make with less than two minutes remaining helped the Buccaneers knock off the host Patriots, who faced former quarterback Tom Brady for the first time.
Overall, Succop is 6 of 8 (75%) on field goals this season, with Sunday’s 48-yarder representing his longest make of the campaign. The 35-year-old is also 14 of 15 (93.3%) on extra points entering Sunday’s home game against the Miami Dolphins, which will feature a 1 p.m. kickoff.
Caleb Farley, Tennessee Titans cornerback
A former Maiden High standout, Farley made his NFL debut in the Titans’ Week 1 home game against the Arizona Cardinals, which Tennessee lost by a 38-13 final. The 22-year-old rookie took eight defensive snaps and 10 special teams snaps in the season opener, but hasn’t played since while dealing with a shoulder injury.
Tennessee visits the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Landon Dickerson, Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman
Since seeing his first NFL action in a 17-11 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 19, Dickerson has started and played every snap for the Eagles each of the past two weeks. The 23-year-old South Caldwell High alumnus has also been used on special teams in each of the last three contests.
The Eagles will look to snap a three-game losing streak when they visit the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at 1 p.m. in a game that will be televised on Fox.
Tyler Shatley, Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman
Shatley has only seen time on special teams thus far for the winless Jaguars, who host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at 1 p.m. However, the 30-year old East Burke High graduate has started 25 games on offense during his eight-year NFL career.
Chazz Surratt, Minnesota Vikings linebacker
Like Shatley, Surratt has only played on special teams this season, appearing in three games to this point. The 24-year-old East Lincoln High alum will hope for more playing time when the Vikings host the Detroit Lions on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Matt DiBenedetto, NASCAR Cup Series driver
A 30-year old Hickory resident who was born in Grass Valley, California, DiBenedetto failed to qualify for the playoffs but has continued to compete over the past four weeks. He came in 18th during a race at Virginia’s Richmond Raceway on Sept. 11 before posting a 10th-place finish at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 18, a 12th-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sept. 26 and a 35th-place finish this past Sunday at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway where he was involved in a late crash.
The next scheduled race is the Bank of America Roval 400 on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The event will be televised on NBC.
J.T. Poston, PGA Tour competitor
The 2022 PGA Tour season began last month, with Hickory High graduate Poston playing in both the Fortinet Championship at Silverado Country Club Sept. 16-19 in Napa, California, and the Sanderson Farms Championship Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in Jackson, Mississippi. The 28-year old is also set to compete in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open today through Sunday at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.
The Shriners Open will be televised on Golf Channel each day, with Poston scheduled to begin Round 1 today at 11:08 a.m.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
Madison Bumgarner, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher
A 32-year-old who attended South Caldwell High, Bumgarner finished the 2021 season with a 7-10 record, a 4.67 ERA and 124 strikeouts against 39 walks in 26 starts spanning 146 1/3 innings. The Diamondbacks’ record of 52-110 was tied for the worst mark in MLB.
Hunter Harvey, Baltimore Orioles pitcher
A 26-year-old who missed the final three months of the season due to injury, Harvey made nine relief appearances for Baltimore in 2021. The Bandys High alum had a 4.15 ERA and six strikeouts against three walks in 8 2/3 innings for the Orioles, who posted a 52-110 record to tie the aforementioned Diamondbacks for the worst record in MLB.
MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
In 91 games for the Norfolk Tides, the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, former Hickory High star Zach Jarrett batted .221 with 67 hits including 10 home runs, 12 doubles and two triples. The 26-year-old outfielder also drove in 35 runs, scored 39 times and had 12 stolen bases in 20 attempts.
A member of the Atlanta Braves’ Double-A affiliate at Mississippi this season, former Bandys High pitcher Hayden Deal finished the campaign with a 3-2 record in 23 games (17 starts). The 26-year-old also had a 3.77 ERA and 72 strikeouts against 33 walks in 88 1/3 innings.
Mississippi teammate Justin Dean, who played college ball at Lenoir-Rhyne and is currently 24 years old, played in 99 games for the Braves in 2021. The speedy center fielder stole 29 bases in 35 attempts, and he also batted .237 with 86 hits including eight homers, 14 doubles and four triples to go with 34 RBIs and 60 runs scored.
Julian Smith, a Catawba Valley Community College alum, finished 2021 with the High-A Great Lakes (Michigan) Loons of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. In nine appearances out of the Great Lakes bullpen, the 24-year-old posted a 4.80 ERA to go with 12 strikeouts and six walks in 15 innings.
Josh McKinney is the sports editor for the Hickory Daily Record.