Redskins

Notre Dame's Te'o eyes Heisman after Maxwell win

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Notre Dame's Te'o eyes Heisman after Maxwell win

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Manti Te'o is one of the most important leaders for undefeated Notre Dame, having played in a ton of big games for the Fighting Irish.

Even so, he had a tough time processing this victory.

The senior linebacker was ``at a loss for words'' after capturing the Maxwell Award as the nation's most outstanding player, one of three honors he received at the 22nd Home Depot College Football Awards show Thursday night at Disney World.

``The last time I ever dreamt of winning that award was on a video game,'' he said. ``So to win it is a mind-blowing experience.''

Te'o now has won six major awards since the end of Notre Dame's regular season, also taking home the Bednarik Award for top defensive player and Walter Camp Foundation player of the year award on Thursday. He became the first defensive player to win the Maxwell Award since 1980, ending a string of nine straight quarterbacks.

Next up is the Heisman Trophy ceremony on Saturday night, with Te'o and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel considered the favorites. Then Te'o will try to help the Fighting Irish dethrone defending champion Alabama in the BCS national championship game.

Wearing a black beaded lei representing his native Hawaii, Te'o said coming back to play football following the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend just four days apart this season makes everything he's achieved since then more worthwhile.

``I never thought that me coming back for my senior year would be the best situation for me with the tragedy,'' Te'o said. ``It's a testament that the Lord answered my prayers and that I had 80-plus brothers there with me, sacrificing for me.''

Te'o finished the regular season with 103 tackles and seven interceptions.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who was presented with the Coach of the Year award after leading the Irish to their first 12-0 regular season since 1988, said Te'o is an example of the family culture he's tried to build in his three seasons in South Bend.

``Everybody knows you don't do it with one guy,'' Kelly said. ``Collectively, everybody just bought in. ... We still got one (game) left. We want to finish it off the right way.''

While Te'o and Notre Dame certainly had a big night, so did Texas A&M. Manziel won the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award and junior offensive lineman Luke Joeckel took home the Outland Trophy for the nation's best interior lineman.

Other players honored Thursday were Southern California's Marqise Lee (Biletnikoff Award for top receiver), Tulane's Cairo Santos (Lou Groza Award for top kicker), Louisiana Tech's Ryan Allen (Ray Guy Award for top punter), Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks (Jim Thorpe Award for top defensive back), and Wisconsin's Montee Ball (Doak Walker Award for top running back).

Manziel acknowledged he will be nervous Saturday knowing he has a chance to win college football's most hallowed individual honor. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is the third finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

Three sophomores have won the Heisman, including Tim Tebow in 2007, Sam Bradford in 2008 and Mark Ingram in 2009. The best a first-year player has ever done is second.

``I had high expectations, but I never would have expected this for myself,'' said Manziel, a redshirt freshman. ``I'll be with two of the best players in the country, all eyes are on you. It's the biggest award in college football. I think you're gonna have a few butterflies.''

Joeckel said even he has been amazed at watching ``Johnny Football'' and his exploits this season.

``It's hard to protect for someone when nobody knows where he is,'' Joeckel said. ``He's a fun guy to block for.''

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said that type of level-headed poise is what has defined his quarterback all season.

``The way he plays, no moment has been too big for him,'' Sumlin said.

In one of the non-competition awards presented Thursday, Texas long snapper Nate Boyer was honored with the Disney Spirit Award, given annually to the most inspirational figure or team.

Boyer, a 32-year-old sophomore, earned a Bronze Star for his service with the U.S. Army Special Forces Unit and has also provided assistance to autistic children and Darfur refugees.

Former Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian was honored with the Contribution to College Football Award for his works off the field.

Kelly said the former coach is every bit as revered as he was in his prime leading the Irish.

``He walks with a limp, but let me tell you, he could still coach today. And he can tell me things about my football team.'' Kelly said.

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

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The Redskins are going to draft the best available player, unless they aren't

The Redskins are going to draft the best available player, unless they aren't

When their turn comes up in this draft, the Redskins are going to pick the best available player on the board. Unless they’re not. 

That is the mixed message delivered on Tuesday by Doug Williams, the team’s senior vice president for player personnel during his pre-draft press conference on Tuesday. 

Williams was asked what nearly every NFL personnel executive has been asked during this round of draft press conferences: Will the Redskins take the best player on the board or would they draft for need?

And Williams gave an answer similar to the ones that all of the other personnel guys gave. 

“You hear this cliché all the time, it’s always going to be the best player available, because at the same time if you’re looking for a need, the player you’re looking for a need might not be graded as high as the guy that’s on that board,” he said. 

That makes some fans crazy as they believe that you must fill needs in the draft. But reaching to fill needs is a good way to have a mediocre, disjointed draft. 

But there are times when the best available player is not the player the Redskins will pick. The topic of injuries came up and Williams talked about the situation at offensive tackle. Morgan Moses and Trent Williams currently are rehabbing from injuries and they won’t take the field during OTAs and minicamp. 

Doug Williams said that both players should be ready for training camp. He didn’t mention it but Trent Williams and Moses are signed for the next three and five years, respectively. That means that there is no need for a tackle in at least the first two rounds, and Williams agrees. 

“We can’t go into the draft drafting tackles, you know,” he said. 

So if, say, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey of Notre Dame has the highest grade on the Redskins’ board when pick 13 comes up, they will not be taking the player with the best grade. They will “reach”, perhaps only slightly, to take a player at another position. 

The Redskins have a similar situation at quarterback. They are committed to Alex Smith for at least three seasons and it would be foolish to spend a high pick on a quarterback. Williams said that the Redskins are not in the quarterback business this year. If there is a top QB still on the board at pick 13, it’s likely that Williams and Bruce Allen would be looking for phone calls from teams that want to trade up and get their signal caller. 

The true test of how the team chooses needs vs. best available could well come this year. Let’s say that Da’Ron Payne, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Tremaine Edmunds are all on the board when the Redskins’ pick comes up. While each team has its own grades, you probably won’t find many that don’t have Fitzpatrick and Edmunds a clear cut above Payne. The Redskins have needs on the defensive line, not so much at inside linebacker or in the secondary. Picking Payne at that point could be interpreted as reaching to fill a need while leaving more talented and more versatile players on the board. Going best available would almost surely mean choosing between Fitzpatrick and Edmunds. 

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

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 5: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 5: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

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

GAME 5: WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT TORONTO RAPTORS

Series: Series tied 2-2
Where: Air Canada Centre
Tip-off: 7:02 p.m. (earlier tipoff than usual)
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Pivotal game

The Wizards have done their part in winning both games at home to even up this series at 2-2. Now comes Game 5, which could very well determine who takes this series.

Winners of Game 5 in a seven-game series tied at 2-2 hold a 164-34 (.828) record all-time. That means teams that lose Game 5 come back to win the final two games and the series only 17.2 percent of the time.

The Wizards need to get this one and they know all too well why. Last year they were in this same position in their second round series against the Boston Celtics. They went down 0-2, won the next two games but then lost Game 5 and ultimately the series in seven games.

Road warriors

The Wizards will also have to do something they have yet to do in a while in Game 5 and that is win on the road. Though they have won eight straight home postseason games, they have lost their last six on the road. It goes back to that Celtics series when Washington lost all four games in Boston. The last time they won on the road in the playoffs was Game 6 last year against the Hawks.

The Raptors are particularly tough in Toronto. They were 34-7 this season at home, tied with the Houston Rockets for the best record in the NBA. 

The recent historical odds are also in Toronto's favor. Since 2003, the home team has won each of the first four games in a seven-game series 35 times. In those series, the home team has held a Game 5 record of 22-13 and a series record of 26-9. If the Raptors get Game 5, history will be on their side to go on to win the series.

Can Otto get going?

Games 3 and 4 in Washington saw All-Star Bradley Beal break out to score 28 and 31 points. Will we see the same from Otto Porter before this series is over?

Game 4 seemed to suggest that is possible. After scoring only one point in the first half, Porter erupted for 10 points in the third quarter alone. Though he only scored 12 points in the game overall, it was the most aggressive we have seen him all series.

Porter is averaging just 10.3 points per game through four playoff games. He is shooting 50 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from three, and as long as the Wizards are winning he won't complain, but Porter can do much more than that on offense. If he starts scoring more, the Wizards will be tough to stop.

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MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

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WALL IS BOYCOTTING DRAKE'S MUSIC DURING SERIES

OUBRE IS HELPING THE WIZARDS WIN IN MANY WAYS

For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast: