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Expectations will be high for Manziel's encore

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Expectations will be high for Manziel's encore

NEW YORK (AP) Heisman Trophy history suggests it will never get better for Johnny Manziel than it did this season. In the 78-year history of the Heisman, only one player has one more than one: Ohio State's Archie Griffin in 1974 and `75.

But even if another Heisman is not in Manziel's future, there's still plenty left for Johnny Football and Texas A&M to achieve before he's done in College Station, Texas.

``First and foremost, there's the Cotton Bowl,'' Manziel said Saturday night. The 10th-ranked Aggies play No. 12 Oklahoma in Dallas on Jan. 4.

``From there, I have to be the guy who starts the motor for a run at the national title next year. That's our goal. If more awards come, they come.''

That goal doesn't seem farfetched at all after the Aggies' scintillating first season playing in the Southeastern Conference. Manziel was joined on stage at his post-ceremony news conference by coach Kevin Sumlin and A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, the former star quarterback at Texas Tech.

Manziel turned 20 this week. Kingsbury is 33. Sumlin is 48. It's not hard to look at them and see the future of the SEC. Especially after the Aggies went 10-2 this season and left no doubt that their fast-paced, spread offense would not sputter in the big bad SEC.

Texas A&M averaged 552 yards per game and 44 points. Manziel smashed Cam Newton's total offense record with 4,600 yards passing and rushing.

``You look what our offense did this year. People didn't really think that we were going to have mush success in the SEC. They said these smashmouth, hard-nose defenses and this gimmick offense ... won't work.

``For us to come into Alabama and some of the other games and really stress tempo, tempo, tempo. We want to move fast. We want to make people uncomfortable. That was our main goal this year. Our offense with coach Sumlin and what coach Kingsbury did, I love it. I love everything about it. It's definitely something that can work if you have the right people in place for it.''

Kingsbury said he and Sumlin didn't quite realize what they had in Manziel early on.

``All spring coach Sumlin would blow the whistle because the defense was close, and (Manziel would) come over ... spike the ball, `God! They wouldn't have got me.' I'm like, `OK, Johnny, sure they wouldn't have got you.' Come to find out they wouldn't have got him.''

Potentially, Texas A&M will have many of its best pieces in place next season. Receiver Mike Evans is a freshman, too, and has future first-round draft pick written all over him. Texas A&M has an offensive line that rivals Alabama's with two stud tackles in Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. Both of those big boys are juniors. The first-round of the NFL draft could await - Joeckel is being projected as a top-10 pick. Getting them back to College Station for another year will be tough. But if Aggies fans are allowed to dream, there's no reason why A&M's offense can't be even better next season. Even if Manziel's numbers aren't.

There's only so much defenses can do to hem in Manziel, who is a master of making something out of nothing.

But football is a game of adjustments. Defenses will search for ways to rein in Johnny Football. Sumlin's response might be to get his running backs more involved. The Aggies figure to have a stable of good ones next season.

Manziel could be as good or better next season, but not be able to put up those same video-game numbers.

It's a common tale in Heisman history.

BYU's Ty Detmer won the award as a junior in 1990, but finished a distance third behind Desmond Howard in 1991.

``The hard parts winning it again because the expectation level goes up,'' Detmer said earlier this week. ``I felt like my senior year I was a much better player than my junior year. Smarter, less turnovers. Didn't have as good a stats, but I felt like I was a better player my senior year. But the expectations were different.''

Expectations will by sky high in College Station next season. The move to the SEC, hiring Sumlin and the second Heisman in the history of the program - and first since John David Crow in 1957 - have Aggies' hopes soaring.

``The award for the program is huge,'' Sumlin said. ``There's a lot of programs out there that don't have one. It took a long time for Texas A&M to get to two.''

Maybe Manziel can buck the trends again and A&M won't have to wait so long to add a third.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap

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Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

DALLAS—The Capitals have dealt backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer and veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round pick, the team announced shortly before the NHL Draft kicked off Friday at American Airlines Center.

GM Brian MacLellan was widely expected to deal Grubauer, a 26-year-old who wanted the opportunity to be a No. 1. As a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who was also coming off a strong season, Grubauer was due a significant raise.

“We would like to thank Brooks and Philipp for all of their contributions to our organization,” MacLellan said in a statement. “Philipp has been a consummate professional and a great teammate and we wish him all the best.”

Trading Orpik, on the other hand, was a bit unexpected, particularly considering how much 37-year-old’s play and leadership meant to the Caps during their run to the Stanley Cup.

By dealing Orpik, MacLellan shed the 37-year-old’s $5.5 million cap hit for next season—an important development given the Caps’ tight salary cap situation and the number of key players who need new contracts. John Carlson, Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek are unrestricted free agents, while Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Travis Boyd and Madison Bowey are restricted free agents.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Avalanche are expected to help Orpik land or a preferred spot, whether via trade or buyout. By taking on Orpik in the deal, Friedman reported, the Avs only had to give up one pick.

“Brooks,” MacLellan continued, “was a great leader and a tremendous role model for our young players in his four years with our organization. This was a difficult move, but the one we felt we needed to make in order to give some flexibility moving forward.”

Will moving out Grubauer and eliminating Orpik’s cap charge allow MacLellan to re-sign Carlson, who's set to become the top defenseman on the free agent market? That’s unclear—even with the salary cap ceiling going up to $79.5 million—but it sure helps the Caps’ cause.

Dealing Orpik also opens up a spot for a young and inexpensive defenseman such as Christian Djoos or Madison Bowey to take on a bigger role in 2018-19.

Without Grubauer, the Caps are likely to turn to Pheonix Copley as their backup next season. And if Copley, who is due to earn the NHL minimum of $650,000 next season, starts the year in Washington, that allows 2015 first round pick Ilya Samsonov to take the reins in Hershey.

The second round pick the Caps received in exchange for Grubauer and Orpik is the 47th overall selection.

MacLellan is expected to speak to reporters following the first round later Friday night. The Caps currently hold the 31st overall pick.

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Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

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USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

It’s happening.

When the 2018 All-Star Weekend comes to Washington, D.C. in the middle of July, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will compete in the 2018 Home Run Derby, but only on one condition: He has to be a member of the 2018 National League All-Star Team.

Though Harper is having a down year, only hitting .213 thus far, he leads the NL in home runs with 19.

In the June 18 update of All-Star game voting, Harper sat second among all outfielders with just north of 1,000,000 votes.

That means he’s not only going to make the All-Star team, but he’ll likely start in the outfield.

Harper, a five-time All-Star, competed in the Home Run Derby once before. He was the runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes in 2013, losing by just one long ball, 9-8.

The 2018 Home Run Derby will take place on July 16 at Nationals Park.

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