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Undersized Williams fueling Utah State turnaround

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Undersized Williams fueling Utah State turnaround

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Kerwynn Williams really wasn't taking much of a chance leaving the bright lights of Las Vegas for the quiet of Cache Valley in northern Utah.

The 5-foot-8 back didn't have many choices.

``I didn't have too many options at all, none for scholarship,'' Williams said. ``The only one that mattered in the end was Utah State, and I'm happy with the decision I made.''

Now, after biding his time behind a player now in the NFL, Williams has a chance to be part of history when the 25th-ranked Aggies face lowly Idaho on Saturday.

A win secures Utah State's first-ever 10-win season and first outright league championship since the 1936 team won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

Williams already made sure the Aggies (9-2, 5-0 WAC) guaranteed themselves a share of the Western Athletic Conference title with a 48-41 overtime win last weekend over then-No. 19 Louisiana Tech.

He turned a screen pass from quarterback Chuckie Keeton into an 86-yard touchdown on Utah State's first play from scrimmage then closed out the scoring in overtime on a 4-yard run. He finished with 303 all-purpose yards, including a 16-yard kickoff return.

Coach Gary Andersen, who made Williams part of his first recruiting class, wasn't surprised at the performance or the ending, not after making eye contact with his senior back before the OT coin toss.

``He was saying, `This is my moment. Let me get that coin toss and give me the ball' and that's exactly what happened,'' Andersen said.

Williams acknowledged the emotional nature of the win.

``It felt like all four years of hard work that we all put in since we got here all paid off,'' he said. ``We put a complete game together and went out there and got the victory. It felt great to get that for coach. He gave me the opportunity to come here and play when not many teams were giving me the opportunity. It's important for me to show him his investment in me was a good one.''

Entering Saturday's game, Williams leads the team in both rushing and receiving, with 1,167 yards on the ground and 39 catches for 624 yards.

He ranks 10th nationally in all-purpose yards and 23rd in the nation in rushing.

His 6,510 career all-purpose yards - including a 75-yard kickoff return against Idaho as a freshman - already is a Utah State career record. He is 181 yards shy of tying the WAC's all-time record for all-purpose yards set by Terance Mathis of New Mexico in 1989.

Williams already had put up some glitzy numbers at Valley High School in Las Vegas as a running back, wide receiver and quarterback. He rushed for more than 4,000 yards and scored 48 touchdowns in his high school career, but there were questions about whether he could produce at the Division I level.

So he ended up in Logan, about 85 miles north of Salt Lake City on the western slope of the Wasatch Mountains. The 24-7 bustle of Las Vegas it was not, Williams said, as finding even a fast-food restaurant open after 9 p.m. proved difficult.

But he made the adjustment and embraced his new team, even if he wasn't sure at times how he would be used and when.

``A lot of kids come in with a chip on their shoulder,'' Andersen said. ``They may not have been that star recruit. That's who we are as a program. Kerwynn is the perfect example of that. He has the drive, the want-to, the fight.''

He also has game-day speed, tremendous vision and the ability to be physical when needed between the tackles.

Credit some of those double decker peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches dipped in milk that Williams has been eating since he was a kid.

``Some are like, `How do you eat that much peanut butter?''' Williams said of his post-game and post-practice snack he calls a Ker-Wich. ``It seems to be working. ... When I was younger, it was only (one layer). The older I got, the hungrier I got.''

He isn't the only one hungry for wins in Logan.

The team was once a laughingstock, going 9-38 combined over the four years before Andersen arrived in December 2008.

After a pair of 4-8 marks under Andersen, the Aggies finished 7-6 last year, going to their first bowl since 1997 with help from a pair of players- running back Robert Turbin and linebacker Bobby Wagner - who are now members of the Seattle Seahawks.

With Turbin gone on to the next level, Williams finally got his chance.

He wanted to keep running Sept. 7 when the Aggies finally beat Utah in Logan, on his 1-yard score in overtime. He'll no doubt want to do the same in his final home game if it goes as well as most expect.

``I want to go out and play my best in front of Aggie Nation,'' Williams said.

Andersen already admires Williams for being an unselfish player through the years and as well as a role model.

``His leadership, his work ethic all season long, his competitiveness ... he has brought us along as a football team for four years,'' Andersen said.

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-SABRES OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 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 five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197