Wizards

New Panthers getting jumpstart on college careers

New Panthers getting jumpstart on college careers

PITTSBURGH (AP) Tra'Von Chapman is well aware of all he's giving up. The last semester of high school is supposed to be the time of your life. There's prom. There's hanging out with your friends. The countdown to graduation. There's the long summer anticipating what awaits in the fall.

Yet the lure of lazy days didn't appeal to the dual threat quarterback out of Kent, Ohio. He knew he wanted to play college football at Pittsburgh. And he knew he wanted to start as quickly as possible.

So when Chapman finished up his final semester at Theodore Roosevelt High on Jan. 4, he packed his stuff. The next day, he drove to Pitt's campus. Two days after that, he was sitting in a freshman English class.

Welcome to the rest of your life kid.

``I wanted to work,'' Chapman said. ``I didn't want to play basketball. I don't think track was needed. I had all my credits. I thought, `Hey, why not just get a big jump on school and why not be with my teammates, be around the place that I love?' I'm very serious about football, so why not take that chance.''

Chapman wasn't alone. Two Pitt signees - tight end Scott Orndoff and defensive end Shakir Soto - also graduated from high school early and enrolled at Pitt this week eager to get on with the rest of their lives.

Unlike the rest of Pitt's 2013 recruiting class, Chapman, Orndoff and Soto won't have to find a way to juggle football and school simultaneously when they arrive on campus over the summer. By then the trio will have a semester of college behind them, know their way around campus and have spring football under their belt.

``This whole week has just been school,'' Soto said. ``I started off with school and football will work its way in.''

Soto didn't get much blowback from friends and family back in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., about bolting. He'll head back in a few weeks for the annual football banquet at G.A.R. High. By then Soto and his size-17 shoes should even know how to navigate Pitt's somewhat confusing campus in Oakland.

Asked if he was homesick, Soto just laughed.

``I'm not missing high school,'' he said.

The Panthers also welcomed defensive lineman Tyrique Jarrett from Milford (N.Y.) Academy and welcomed home wide receiver Dontez Ford, a Pittsburgh native who is transferring to Pitt after spending some time at Syracuse.

While Ford will have to wait out a season due to NCAA transfer rules, that's not the case for Chapman. He'll be eligible to play right away if he earns the right, one of the big reasons he wanted to get to Pitt as quickly as possible.

Chapman passed for 5,736 yards and 62 touchdowns and rushed for 1,506 yards and 19 TDs over his junior and senior seasons. He points to the job Pitt coach Paul Chryst did with quarterback Russell Wilson while both were at Wisconsin in 2011 as proof of what Chryst can do with a mobile quarterback.

Though the Panthers will begin the spring with Rutgers transfer Tom Savage and returnees Chad Voytik and Trey Anderson in a three-way battle to replace Tino Sunseri, Chapman thinks he can make it a four-man race by the time training camp opens.

``When I feel comfortable, when I get a good grasp of my playbook any my environment, I'm going to come in and compete,'' he said.

Chapman never wavered in his decision to come to campus in January, even after Chryst's name came up as a possible coaching candidate at Wisconsin. When Chryst made it obvious he was staying put, Chapman could sense some forward momentum building as the Panthers prepare to head to the ACC in the fall.

``Now (the players) know coach Chryst is for real,'' Chapman said. ``They know their coaches are for real and they're going to give it everything they've got.''

And like Soto, Chapman is far from homesick. He woke up early on the first day of class only to realize he and roommate Orndoff could hang out until class began at 4:30 p.m.

``I'm just walking around and I come home, dinner's not on the table, you go out to eat and stuff like that,'' Chapman said. ``It's like, `Cool, I got some freedom now.' But you've got to know how to handle it.''

---

NOTES: The Panthers released their 2013 home/away schedule on Friday. Pitt will host Notre Dame and ACC opponents Florida State, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia next fall as well as Villanova and New Mexico. The Panthers will play at Navy and ACC rivals Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Duke and Syracuse.

---

Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

Quick Links

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

usatsi_10549712.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

Quick Links

Need to Know: The most overrated Redskins events of 2017

pryor_vs_chiefs_usat.jpg
Usa Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The most overrated Redskins events of 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 23, 19 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The overrated Redskin moments of 2017

Originally published 12/30/17

Sometimes in the NFL, something happens that grabs headlines and appears to be a momentous event that has ripple effects that will last all season and perhaps beyond. Other times something that is greeted with a yawn by fans and the media turns out to be something with lasting impact. Yesterday we looked at three events that were underrated at the time they happened. Here, in no particular order, are three overrated events from 2017.

Beating the Raiders—At the time, the Raiders were 2-0 and they still had the status of being one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl. The Redskins whipped them 27-10 and the prevailing view was that the Redskins were on their way to a special year. But that loss started a four-game losing streak for the Raiders. They are currently riding a three-game skid and at 6-9 they are contenders for a top-10 draft pick, not for the Super Bowl. The win became less impressive for the Redskins as the year went on.

Signing Terrelle Pryor—There was plenty of excitement when the Redskins signed the Browns wide receiver, who had 1,000 receiving yards catching passes from a sub-mediocre group of quarterbacks in Cleveland. Imagine what he could do with a quality QB and a good offense around him. The hype grew when a fan captured him making this catch in training camp:

But the production was not there. In nine games before going on injured reserve with an ankle injury, Pryor caught 20 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown.

Su’a Cravens departure—There was a lot of concern about issues both on and off the field when Cravens abruptly let it be known to teammates that he intended to retire just after the Redskins finalized their 53-man roster on September 2. All offseason Cravens’ name had been written at the top of the depth chart at strong safety in Sharpie. When he walked away and was put on the Exempt/Left Squad list (and eventually on the Reserve/Left Squad list, ending his season), there was plenty of speculation about whether the organization botched the situation and, of more immediate importance, what would happen at safety without Cravens. We’re still not sure about what happened but Montae Nicholson and Deshazor Everett did a respectable job at safety.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 6
—NFL Draft (4/26) 62
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 198