Wizards

Heisman finalist on display in annual Shrine Game

201301151131414903020-p2.jpeg

Heisman finalist on display in annual Shrine Game

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) A month ago, Collin Klein was being celebrated on one of college football's biggest stages as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

Now he's back to trying to prove that he's more than just a good college player.

The former Kansas State quarterback headlines a group of NFL hopefuls that will be on display for scouts in Saturday's annual East West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla.

``It's been a lot of fun. A lot of new stuff, so I'm drinking from a fire hydrant, but we're having a good time,'' said Klein, who will play for the East team. ``It's great to meet and get to know the guys. It's a great opportunity and I'm trying to make the most of it.''

While many of the players projected to go in the early rounds of April's NFL draft are participating in the Senior Bowl later this month, the Shrine Game has developed a reputation in recent years as a place where scouts can discover an overlooked prospect.

Washington Redskins rookie running back Alfred Morris is probably the most recent example.

The former Florida Atlantic standout was barely a speck on draft boards before catching the eyes of scouts during his practice week in St. Petersburg for last year's Shrine Game.

He went on to be drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 draft by the Redskins and rushed for more than 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns as a rookie this season.

West team coach Lehman Bennett said that track record for this and other all-star games has only invigorated this year's participants more.

``These guys are here like a job interview, selling themselves, so it doesn't take a whole lot of motivation,'' Bennett said. ``They realize what's at stake. They can become a third-round draft choice or a second-round draft choice instead of a fifth-round draft choice. That's what we're trying to help them do.''

Bennett said players that have impressed him this week include former Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege, 6-foot-7 former Nevada tight end Zach Sudfeld and Utah State RB Kerwynn Williams, who is just 5-8 and 191 pounds.

``He's a small guy. The NFL's going to grade him down a little bit, but he's got real good quickness in him,'' he said of Williams. ``I think he has a good chance to make it.''

On defense, Bennett likes cornerback Terry Hawthorne from Illinois and linebackers Nathan Williams (Ohio State) A.J. Klein (Iowa State).

East linebacker Sam Barrington, who went to nearby South Florida, said the overriding emotion he's felt this week is just thankfulness for the opportunity to improve his professional stock.

``You watch some of these guys all around the country, and now to be out amongst these guys, it's a blessing and I'm appreciative of that,'' he said. ``The most important thing is to accumulate some skills from these coaches and learn. I'm trying to put myself in better position for the NFL.''

But for a player like Klein, who has been on the national stage for a big name program, it's no secret that the stakes and spotlight will be brighter.

Klein had a remarkable senior season, throwing for 2,641 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also rushed for more than 900 yards to go along with 23 rushing touchdowns.

Former Heisman winner Tim Tebow faced a halo of scrutiny coming out of a standout career at Florida because of his throwing motion. Klein, too, is being trailed by those same questions and told reporters this week that he had no interest in changing positions on the pro level.

That places everything back on his performance in the handful of months before the draft, beginning on Saturday.

Though, East coach Jerry Glanville puts him in rare company among quarterbacks.

``He has so many pluses to him,'' Glanville said. ``He reminds me years ago of a youngster at Tennessee, went on and played for the Colts, now he plays for Denver. I see a lot of the same characteristics in him.''

---

Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/khightower

Quick Links

The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards returned to Washington, D.C. on Friday down 0-2 to the Raptors in their best-of-seven 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series

The team lost a close one in Game 1 and was run out of the building in Game 2. Game 3 was must-win, and the Wizards knew what needed to happen in order for them to secure the victory.

"Everybody eats." 

That's the phrase that has defined the Wizards throughout much of the season They are at their best when John Wall is making players and feeding his teammates.

On Friday night, the Wizards beat the Raptors 122-103 to force at least a Game 5. Wall finished with 28 points and 14 assists.

Bradley Beal finally broke out of his slump for 28 points and  Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott and Kelly Oubre all chipped in with at least 10 points.

But the stat sheet wasn't the only place where everybody eats.

Here's Marcin Gortat from Game 3. 

But if pantomiming isn't your thing, here is Bradley Beal actually eating popcorn during Game 3.

So what did we learn in Game 3? Well, for starters: "Everybody Eats" is not just a motto, it is a way of life.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

Quick Links

With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

The Toronto Raptors were only going to hold Bradley Beal down for so long. After two so-so games to begin the Wizards-Raptors playoff series, the All-Star shooting guard was bound to find his way offensively and that arrival came in a Game 3 win on Friday night.

Beal was brilliant and much more in line with what he's shown in the postseason throughout his career. Game 2 was his worst playoff game as an NBA player, he scored only nine points. Game 3 was one of his best on the postseason stage, or at least one of his most timely and important.

The Wizards needed more from Beal to give themsevles a chance in this series. An 0-3 deficit would have been a death sentence. His production is so key to their success that head coach Scott Brooks and point guard John Wall met with Beal in between Games 2 and 3 to figure out how to get him going.

Whether that was the catalyst or not, the results followed. Beal poured in 28 points in 10-for-19 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. He hit four threes, more than he had in the first two games combined.

Beal wasted no time to make an impact scoring the ball. His first points came on a quick burst to the basket where he stopped on a dime, turned around and banked it in. By the end of the first quarter, he had 12 points in 11 minutes.

“I just wanted to be aggressive, get shots that I wanted which is what they were going to force me to take," Beal said.

After Game 2, Brooks and Beal described how physical the Raptors were defending him. They were holding on to him and staying close, even when he wasn't moving off the ball.

Brooks saw a difference in how Beal responded to that in Game 3.

"Brad came out and was looking to go towards the basket and not just letting them hold him and going along with it. He didn’t want to dance with his opponent, he wanted to get away from them. That was a critical part of his success," Brooks said.

Beal's 28 points were as much as he scored in Games 1 and 2 together and just about what he averaged through four games against the Raptors during the regular season (28.8). By halftime of Game 3, Beal had 21 points on 8-for-11 from the field.

Beal hit two threes in the first quarter and another two in the second quarter. Several of those threes were set up by Wall, who used the meeting with Brooks and Beal to ask how he can set him up better as the point guard.

In Game 3, they were on the same page.

"I do think this man [John Wall] next to me, he creates and facilitates for the whole team and gets everybody easy shots," Beal said. "I talk to you guys all the time and I can’t tell you the last time I actually got a regular catch and shoot three just in a regular half court set. When he came back, I got like three or four off the bat."

What Beal did in Game 3 is what the Wizards are used to seeing from him this time of the year. Despite being only 24 years old, he has a strong track record in the playoffs.

Through 37 career postseason games, Beal is averaging 22.3 points, more than his career average of 18.7 in the regular season. In each of his previous three postseason runs, he has averaged more points during the playoffs than he did in the regular seasons leading up.

That production has earned him the nickname 'Playoff Beal' and when he goes off like he did in Game 3, good things usually happen. The Wizards are 10-6 in the playoffs during his career when he scores 25 points or more.

Wall also boasts impressive career numbers in the playoffs. When the Wizards have both of their stars playing at their best, they are hard to beat. With peak Beal on board, this series looks a lot different than it did not that long ago.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!