Bandwagon growing for long-overlooked Hurricanes


Bandwagon growing for long-overlooked Hurricanes

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) A burly man with a big grin hollered in support of the Miami Hurricanes, his voice standing out even amid the crowd's clamor.

``I heard somebody scream my name when I was shooting a free throw,'' guard Shane Larkin said. ``I looked, and it was Warren Sapp. I was like, that's crazy.''

Even for a 300-pound former NFL star, there's still room on the Miami bandwagon. But it's growing fast.

The No. 25-ranked Hurricanes (14-3, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are alone atop the league standings at 5-0, their best ACC start. A rare capacity crowd of 7,972, including Sapp, turned out for Miami's latest victory, a 90-63 drubbing of No. 1 Duke on Wednesday night.

``This is my fifth year here, and I've never ever seen the gym like that before,'' center Reggie Johnson said. ``It was special. Hopefully we can keep it going.''

The sellout was only the 10th in the Hurricanes' 10-year-old on-campus arena, and another full house is expected Sunday when they play rival Florida State.

``That's our goal - to get people excited about our program,'' coach Jim Larranaga said. ``It's the first time in the university's basketball history that we've been able to create that kind of buzz. This school is not necessarily known as a basketball school.''

Larranaga has the Hurricanes on the rise in only his second season with the school, and their success is welcome tonic as the athletic department awaits the results of an NCAA investigation that began more than a year ago.

The Hurricanes cracked the ranking this week for the first time in three years. The victory over a No. 1 team was their first ever.

``It's something that has never been done before, and the guys are very excited about it,'' guard Durand Scott said. ``But we know this is just now. We've got more to work on, and more that's ahead of us. Now everybody is going to see Miami as `that team.' We've got to come out every game like it's the last.''

The Hurricanes' schedule ranks among the toughest in the nation. Their six-game winning streak includes three road league victories, and they beat No. 13 Michigan State at home in November. They appear likely to make the NCAA tournament for only the second time since 2002, thanks to a team that is deep, big and experienced.

Larranaga, who led George Mason to a Final Four berth in 2006, preaches aggressiveness on defense and balance on offense. Scott, Larkin and Trey McKinney Jones are solid perimeter players, while 6-10 Johnson, 6-10 Julian Gamble and 6-11 Kenny Kadji are forces inside.

Gamble is a sixth-year senior; Scott, Johnson, Kadji and McKinney Jones and are also seniors. The five have started 282 games for the Hurricanes.

``They've got some great fifth- and sixth-year players, old guys who are really good and accustomed to playing together,'' Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

The 292-pound Johnson, an intriguing NBA prospect, gave the Hurricanes a lift when he came off the bench against Duke after being sidelined since Dec. 18 with a broken left thumb. He hadn't been able to practice but called Larranaga on Wednesday morning with the surprising news he was ready to return.

``He basically was jumping through the phone,'' Larranaga said. ``He was so excited that the doctors cleared him to play. I didn't think he was going to be back until some time in February.''

Johnson gives the Hurricanes extra heft as they head into the heart of their ACC schedule. With Duke and No. 18 North Carolina State the league's only other ranked teams, this might be the year to shake up the conference's traditional hierarchy.

And so the bandwagon grows, in South Florida at least. But the perennially overlooked Hurricanes aren't certain how much the win over Duke helped their national reputation.

``Who knows, man,'' Johnson said. ``Some people probably still don't believe. But we believe in ourselves. As long as we believe in each other, we're fine.''

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Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

For months, draft conversation suggested that there wasn't an offensive tackle to pick in the Top 10. And after Bradley Chubb, there wasn't an edge defender worth a Top 10 pick either. 

All of a sudden, that conversation is changing. 

Late charges from Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, Boston College defensive end Harold Landry and University of Texas San Antonio pass rusher Marcus Davenport are starting to influence mock drafts.

On Wednesday, NFL Network's Peter Schrager predicted the 49ers to take McGlinchey with the ninth overall pick. Charley Casserly, in a mock draft with NBC Sports Washington on Monday, predicted the Chicago Bears take Davenport with the eighth overall pick. Reports on Landry are all over the place, but some guess he could break the Top 10 as well.

The thing to remember about the NFL: It's a passing league. Positions tied to the quarterback are the most important, and that means protecting the QB and getting after the QB is in high demand. No position will ever get over-drafted like quarterback, but it's not a surprise that teams might reach for players at tackle or edge rusher.

What does this mean for the Redskins holding the No. 13 pick?

It means great news. 

Washington will already benefit from four QBs going in the Top 10. That will likely push down an elite talent to their draft spot.

If McGlinchey, Davenport or Landry also crack the Top 10? Even better.

The Redskins need help at just about every position group on the defensive side of the ball. It's well documented how the team struggled against the run in 2017, but the defense also lost Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller this offseason. 

There will be a number of weapons available for Washington at 13, and that could include players like Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James in addition to Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne. It might mean Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith lasts to 13 too. 

For the Redskins, Fitzpatrick or James at 13 seems like a steal. Both players present elite potential at the evolving position of nickel cornerback. They can play some corner, some safety, and James might even be able to play some linebacker. 

Regardless of the eventual destination for James or Fitzpatrick, if more surprise players sneak into the Top 10 on Thursday night, the better Washington's options become. And that includes the possibility of trading down, Vea or Payne, Smith or Edmunds.

More elite options at 13 only helps the Redskins. 

Redskins fans should be rooting for Mike McGlinchey, Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport early Thursday night. The folks in Ashburn will be. 

- Mock Draft 9.0: Almost draft day
- Top Prospects: RB options for the Redskins
- Top Prospects: WR options for the Redskins
- Need To Know: Rich Tandler's Seven-Round Redskins Mock Draft
- Mega-Mock Predictions: DC Media choose No. 13 pick

Want more Redskins talk? Of course you do. Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Once undrafted, how Trey Edmunds found his way as a rookie in a crowded backfield

Once undrafted, how Trey Edmunds found his way as a rookie in a crowded backfield

NBC Sports Washington’s four-part digital series ‘E-Boyz’ -- chronicling the illustrious past, decorated present and bright future of the Edmunds family -- is NOW LIVE. Check out a new episode daily, leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Watch the third episode above and more here.

A position change. A school change. A season-ending injury. 

Those are the kinds of things that prevent an NFL career from ever starting. But none of those things stopped Trey Edmunds from reaching the league and contributing for the Saints as a rookie in 2017.

Trey, the oldest brother in a family that features 2018 prospects Tremaine and Terrell, came out of high school as a linebacker, but became a running back after enrolling at Virginia Tech. After three productive seasons with the Hokies, he transferred to finish up his career with Maryland, yet his senior season was cut short after fracturing his foot five games in to the schedule.

That injury was a big reason why the 2017 NFL Draft came and went without a phone call for Edmunds, so he signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in May. There, he played spot duty on special teams for much of his rookie campaign before his breakout moment in November:

Now, heading into his second pro year, Edmunds will reportedly have to fight for a roster spot in New Orleans again. But hey, adversity is something the 23-year-old is very familiar with, so don't bet against him.