Redskins

Winston-Salem returns to D-II, rolls to title game

Winston-Salem returns to D-II, rolls to title game

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Winston-Salem State's financial problems are one reason the Rams are playing for the Division II national championship this weekend.

The historically black university was on track to move to Division I when budget woes forced officials to abort the plan to join the Football Championship Subdivision a few years ago.

So, the Rams returned to Division II and made themselves right at home.

In their third season back at this level, they're 14-0 and preparing to face Valdosta State on Saturday in Florence, Ala., with their first national title at stake.

``I don't know if it justifies (the decision), but I know winning solves a lot of problems, and people like winners,'' third-year coach Connell Maynor said. ``If you win, that will make the people that wanted us to stay I-AA kind of forget about that and say, `You know what, this is all right. This is pretty cool.'''

The move back down a rung on the NCAA's ladder sure seems to have agreed with Winston-Salem State.

The alma mater of former NFL players Yancey Thigpen and Oronde Gadsden has twice won the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association - the nation's oldest conference for HBCUs - since rejoining the league in 2010.

That came shortly after school officials decided the transition to Division I - and the expenses that came with it - just wasn't worth it. All those road trips to Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference games in Florida and Virginia began to add up, and so did the increased expenses for scholarships to meet Division I standards.

School officials said that the athletic department ran a deficit of $1.8 million during the fiscal year before the move back to Division II. Chancellor Donald Reaves said at the time projected the deficit would grow to $15 million by this year.

For the fiscal year that ended in June 2012, the Rams had a balanced athletic budget of about $4.4 million - making them one of the bigger spenders in the CIAA.

``The biggest problem with that is money - you've got to fund 15-16 sports ... (and) those sports are traveling to FAMU, Bethune-Cookman, Norfolk State on a Wednesday night to play volleyball, that takes a lot of money,'' Maynor said. ``It takes a lot of funding. We've got some people out there that want to fund the money, I think it wouldn't be a problem to go back to I-AA. But everybody that wants to go back don't have (the) money.''

The Rams might not be playing a Division I schedule anymore, but they certainly have plenty of Division I talent.

``These are not your average CIAA guys, your average D-II guys,'' said running back Bryce Sherman, one of two transfers from South Carolina.

The school's roster includes seven transfers from Bowl Subdivision teams - including one from each of the state's four Atlantic Coast Conference programs. Defensive back Dominique Tate, a Wake Forest transfer, shares a Winston-Salem apartment with current Demon Deacons running back Josh Harris.

Seven more Rams came from FCS schools.

``Did we break a rule? We didn't? Oh, so we're smarter than you,'' Maynor said, directing his comments toward those critical of the high number of transfers.

``You've got to get the game plan and get out there and do the same thing we're doing,'' Maynor said. ``Get your program on the same level we are and quit complaining about the transfers we've got. That's how you win games.''

Nobody can argue with the results.

As a team, the Rams rank in the top 10 in eight major statistical categories. They're fifth in the division with an average of 42.5 points per game; are sixth against the run, allowing an average of 87.7 yards; and are fourth in turnover margin at plus-1.36.

Only three games have been decided by fewer than 10 points - and two of those came in the first two weeks. The third was a 21-17 win over Indiana (Pa.) in the Division II quarterfinals.

Now it's on to the title game and a chance to deliver the school's first championship become the first HBCU to win the Division II crown.

``We're still kind of in shock, but we're ready, though,'' Sherman said. ``We've been thinking about it since the summertime. Coach has been telling us about wanting to win a national championship. We all believe. It's here now. We've got to play hard. We're ready, though.''

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Why the Redskins should be hoping Tremaine Edmunds falls in their lap

Why the Redskins should be hoping Tremaine Edmunds falls in their lap

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 first episode above and more here.

When the NFL Draft comes around, you'll hear fans and analysts often say, "If Player X makes it to pick No. __, then Team Y should sprint to the podium to pick him."

Well, this Thursday, if Player X is Tremaine Edmunds, the pick is No. 13 and Team Y is the Washington Redskins, the Burgundy and Gold should sprint to the podium only if there's no other option to get there quicker. 

While the 'Skins already have two talented linebackers in Zach Brown and Mason Foster on the roster already, taking the Virginia Tech teenager shouldn't be ruled out. Now, the only problem is that Edmunds has to slide that far in the 2018 draft; the majority of mocks have him going before that spot.

Edmunds is the type of do-it-all LB that is especially valuable in today's NFL. He has the athleticism and ability to fit on the inside or outside, and is just as comfortable rushing the passer as he is in coverage. You know that issue the Redskins have when it comes to covering tight ends, the one that's lasted for like a decade now? Edmunds would help erase it, along with a host of other problems.

"They don't come like him," one NFC scout told NFL.com about Edmunds. "I don't think there has ever been a linebacker that has had his size and speed."

Redskins fans, go outside and start searching for your four-leaf clovers now. Last year, the franchise got lucky and landed Jonathan Allen. This time around, they're going to need even more of it to secure Edmunds. 

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2018 NFL Mock Draft Ravens Roundup 6.0: The final countdown

2018 NFL Mock Draft Ravens Roundup 6.0: The final countdown

After months and months of talk and a lot of predictions, the 2018 NFL Draft is finally here.

On Thursday, Ozzie Newsome and Co. will enter the draft room prepared for battle. A lot of questions await them and most of them can not be answered until the ten minutes leading up to their pick. 

Even with the additions of Michael CrabtreeJohn Brown and Willie Snead, will the Ravens continue to add to their wide receiver corps? 

Will they trade down and scoop up a tight end or will they address the offensive line and snag Mike McGlinchey? 

All of our questions will be answered in no time, but for now, sit back and enjoy the wild ride that is the first-round of the NFL Draft. 

NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig (Link) Charley Casserly (Link

— Mike McGlinchey (OL)

With the exit of Ryan Jensen, the Ravens are now in need of an offensive lineman. 

At the combine, McGlinchey put up 24 reps on the bench press, had a 28.5 inch vertical and a 105 inch broad jump. 

"The offense lacks playmakers which is why wide receivers Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore work," Standing says. "Right tackle also in play. McGlinchey seems to have moved ahead of the other tackle prospects."

ESPN's Mel Kiper (Link) CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso (Link) Sporting News (Link) Rotoworld (Link

— Calvin Ridley (WR)

Ridley is one of the few wideouts in this draft projected to go in the first-round. While his combine performance didn't help his stock, running a 4.43 40-yard dash, recording a 31-inch vertical, a 110-inch broad jump and a 6.88-second 3-cone drill, many are still predicting he lands with the Ravens or somewhere in the first-round. 

"Ridley underwhelmed at the combine, but his college tape shows a player who’s nearly uncoverable," Kiper says. "I’m going to trust the tape in this case and still make him my top-ranked wideout (Maryland’s D.J. Moore is not far behind). Baltimore could also target an offensive tackle at pick No. 16."

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah (Link)

— Hayden Hurst (TE) 

The Ravens haven't addressed their need at tight end in free agency and the reason could be because they're holding out for the draft. 

QB Joe Flacco has a tendency to favor Ravens tight ends and Hayden Hurst out of South Carolina is being considered by many the top TE in this draft. 

The ex-minor league baseball pitcher, who walked on at South Carolina at 21-years old, is being compared to Dallas Clark. "His fearless play demeanor combined with size, strength and athleticism make him a well-rounded prospect with the versatility to line up all over the field," according to his draft profile

Jeremiah, who once was a scout for the Ravens, predicts they will be looking to draft back for Hurst.

NFL.com's Bucky Brooks (Link) 

— Lamar Jackson (QB) 

It was reported last week that Jackson would be making a visit to the Ravens' facility during the final week of pre-draft visits, and with Joe Flacco nearing the end of his contract, now could be the time to find his successor. Jackson provides support on the ground and in the air, but scouts are concerned about his accuarcy. 

"With Joe Flacco viewed as a potential salary cap casualty in 2019, the Ravens can secure their future QB by grabbing Jackson if he is available at No. 16," Brooks says. "Remember, Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and assistant head coach Greg Roman have experience nurturing athletic quarterbacks into dynamic playmakers (see Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Colin Kaepernick), so the Ravens could be the perfect fit for the 2016 Heisman winner."

Bleacher Report (Link

— Mike Gesicki (TE) 

Gesicki is another tight end option for the Ravens. Standing tall at 6' 5", Gesicki ran a 4.54 40-yard dash and recorded a 41.5 vertical jump at the combine. He also ended his time at Penn State as their tight end leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. 

His draft profile describes him as a "pass-catcher who can get open and has the ball skills to win against linebackers and safeties." Scouts are also comparing him to the likes of Jimmy Graham. 

Land of 10 (Link

— Christian Kirk (WR)

Kirk provides another wide receiver option if Ridley is gone at 16, even though his draft profile has him projected in Rounds 2-3. 

The 5-10, 201-pound junior finished with 71 receptions, 919 yards and 10 touchdowns at Texas A&M.

At the combine, Kirk ran a 4.47 40-yard dash, recorded a 35.5 vertical jump and a 7.09 second 3-cone drill. 

His bottom line states, "Kirk is a well-built, mentally tough slot target whose game is built around pace more than explosiveness. His lack of speed and length make him less likely to impact games down the field, but his footwork, route tempo and hands should give him an opportunity to find catches underneath. Kirk's ability to help in the return game is a plus, but the difference between average and good as a receiver could depend on finding the right fit."

CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson (Link)

— D.J. Moore (WR)

As the draft has slowly approached, Maryland's D.J. Moore has risen in the rankings. 

Many pundits are ranking him narrowly behind Alabama's Calvin Ridley as the top WR in the draft. 

The 6'0"  junior ran a 4.42 40-yard dash, a 6.95 3-cone drill and recorded a 39.5 vertical jump. 

"Moore is bigger than former Terrapin wideout Stefon Diggs, but their playing style and athletic ability while at Maryland are similar," states his draft profile.

"Moore doesn't have the height and length teams look for outside and may become a full-time option from the slot. He clearly has the short-area quickness and talent after the catch to handle those duties, but his route-running needs to become more focused and fast to unlock his potential. Teams are high on Moore's potential and believe he has the talent and traits to become a good WR2 in the league."

Moore is being compared to the likes of Pierre Garçon. 

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