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Penn St. makes changes to its football jerseys

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Penn St. makes changes to its football jerseys

From Comcast SportsNet
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Players' names are being added to Penn State's football jerseys for the coming season, the university announced Tuesday, along with blue ribbons to show support for victims of child abuse. The team's generic look -- blue-and-white, no names on jerseys -- has long been a trademark and was associated with the buttoned-down style of former coach Joe Paterno, who was fired last year after his former assistant Jerry Sandusky was arrested on child molestation charges. School officials said adding the names was a way to recognize the "resolve and dedication" of the players, as the team faces a four-year bowl ban and loss of scholarships under the severe penalties handed down by the NCAA last month over the school's handling of the Sandusky scandal. The changes will take effect with the Sept. 1 season opener at home against Ohio University. "We want our fans to know and recognize these young men," said coach Bill O'Brien, who was hired after last season. "They have stuck together during tough times, and I commend them for the leadership they have shown." Fran Fisher, a longtime Penn State radio announcer, said the jersey changes may ruffle some feathers among former players, and the vanilla uniforms will continue to be associated with Paterno. "I think Coach O'Brien has a right to do whatever he wants to do to have an identity for his team," Fisher said. "I think that the plainness of the Paterno era will be remembered because he considered it to be a team sport." Sandusky, 68, awaits sentencing on 45 criminal counts, probably next month, and is likely to spend the rest of his life in state prison. Paterno died of lung cancer in January, and a university-commissioned investigation of the Sandusky scandal concluded he and other top Penn State officials concealed allegations against Sandusky going back to 1998. The NCAA also stripped the school and Paterno of more than 100 wins, dropping him from atop the list of the winningest coaches in major college football history.

NBA trade talks shift into high gear

NBA trade talks shift into high gear

With just over two weeks to go until the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 8, a number of contending teams are looking to add that one piece that could give them a chance to get to the Finals.

Here in Chicago, we know John Paxson and Gar Forman have been burning up the phone lines for weeks, trying to find out if any team is willing to offer a first round draft pick for Niko Mirotic or Robin Lopez. Justin Holiday, Jerian Grant and Denzel Valentine also could be available for the right price. After all, it’s Year 1 of the rebuild, and the Bulls are trying to put together a roster that can eventually challenge for a championship, not merely compete for a seventh or eighth seed next season.

Meanwhile, the three-time defending Eastern Conference champion Cavs are going through their annual mid-season slump, but this time their defensive issues might be beyond repair with the current roster. The Cavs have been rumored to be in pursuit of veteran help, including the Clippers’ duo of DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams. Problem is, Cavs rookie GM Koby Altman doesn’t have a lot to offer in return beyond that unprotected first-round Brooklyn pick acquired in the Kyrie Irving deal last summer.

Will the Cavs deal a potential Top 3 pick to get LeBron James the help he needs to make an eighth straight trip to the Finals? We’ll all find out over the next two and a half weeks.

1-on-1 with East St. Louis safety Antonio Johnson

1-on-1 with East St. Louis safety Antonio Johnson

While many top Chicagoland underclassmen took part in the third annual EDGYTIM MLK Underclassmen Showcase powered by EFT Football Academy last week, several others from outside the area participated and made waves of their own. Athletes from Central and Southern Illinois made statements, while others from a dozen states and Canada turned heads as well. 

East St. Louis sophomore safety Antonio Johnson (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) was one of several Flyers who made a very positive impression and made the most of his experience. 

Johnson, who started at wide receiver and safety for the Flyers (10-2 in 2017), is already appearing on several college radar screens. Johnson remains one of several underclassmen to watch for head coach Darren Sunkett over the next few years. 

I caught up with East St. Louis sophomore safety prospect Antonio AJ Johnson at the showcase and discussed his winter plans, his recruiting and why he made the nearly-300 mile trek in the dead of winter to compete at this event.