NCAA

Heisman finalist on display in annual Shrine Game

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Heisman finalist on display in annual Shrine Game

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) A month ago, Collin Klein was being celebrated on one of college football's biggest stages as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

Now he's back to trying to prove that he's more than just a good college player.

The former Kansas State quarterback headlines a group of NFL hopefuls that will be on display for scouts in Saturday's annual East West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla.

``It's been a lot of fun. A lot of new stuff, so I'm drinking from a fire hydrant, but we're having a good time,'' said Klein, who will play for the East team. ``It's great to meet and get to know the guys. It's a great opportunity and I'm trying to make the most of it.''

While many of the players projected to go in the early rounds of April's NFL draft are participating in the Senior Bowl later this month, the Shrine Game has developed a reputation in recent years as a place where scouts can discover an overlooked prospect.

Washington Redskins rookie running back Alfred Morris is probably the most recent example.

The former Florida Atlantic standout was barely a speck on draft boards before catching the eyes of scouts during his practice week in St. Petersburg for last year's Shrine Game.

He went on to be drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 draft by the Redskins and rushed for more than 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns as a rookie this season.

West team coach Lehman Bennett said that track record for this and other all-star games has only invigorated this year's participants more.

``These guys are here like a job interview, selling themselves, so it doesn't take a whole lot of motivation,'' Bennett said. ``They realize what's at stake. They can become a third-round draft choice or a second-round draft choice instead of a fifth-round draft choice. That's what we're trying to help them do.''

Bennett said players that have impressed him this week include former Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege, 6-foot-7 former Nevada tight end Zach Sudfeld and Utah State RB Kerwynn Williams, who is just 5-8 and 191 pounds.

``He's a small guy. The NFL's going to grade him down a little bit, but he's got real good quickness in him,'' he said of Williams. ``I think he has a good chance to make it.''

On defense, Bennett likes cornerback Terry Hawthorne from Illinois and linebackers Nathan Williams (Ohio State) A.J. Klein (Iowa State).

East linebacker Sam Barrington, who went to nearby South Florida, said the overriding emotion he's felt this week is just thankfulness for the opportunity to improve his professional stock.

``You watch some of these guys all around the country, and now to be out amongst these guys, it's a blessing and I'm appreciative of that,'' he said. ``The most important thing is to accumulate some skills from these coaches and learn. I'm trying to put myself in better position for the NFL.''

But for a player like Klein, who has been on the national stage for a big name program, it's no secret that the stakes and spotlight will be brighter.

Klein had a remarkable senior season, throwing for 2,641 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also rushed for more than 900 yards to go along with 23 rushing touchdowns.

Former Heisman winner Tim Tebow faced a halo of scrutiny coming out of a standout career at Florida because of his throwing motion. Klein, too, is being trailed by those same questions and told reporters this week that he had no interest in changing positions on the pro level.

That places everything back on his performance in the handful of months before the draft, beginning on Saturday.

Though, East coach Jerry Glanville puts him in rare company among quarterbacks.

``He has so many pluses to him,'' Glanville said. ``He reminds me years ago of a youngster at Tennessee, went on and played for the Colts, now he plays for Denver. I see a lot of the same characteristics in him.''

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

Virginia snaps 3-game losing streak with 63-58 win over Georgia Tech

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USA Today Sports Images

Virginia snaps 3-game losing streak with 63-58 win over Georgia Tech

ATLANTA (AP) -- Jay Huff and Mamadi Diakite scored 17 points apiece as defending national champion Virginia snapped a three-game losing streak with a 63-58 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday night.

The Cavaliers (12-5, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) finally regained their winning touch after dropping out of The Associated Press ranking for the first time since November 2017.

Georgia Tech (8-10, 3-5) lost its fourth straight home game. The Yellow Jackets haven't won at McCamish Pavilion since a Dec. 4 victory over Nebraska. 

Diakite's dunk with 14:47 remaining gave Virginia its biggest lead, 43-29.

The Cavaliers were still up 48-37 with just over 10 minutes to go when Georgia Tech suddenly came to life offensively.

The Yellow Jackets scored on four of five possessions, stringing together a 9-0 run that cut Virginia's edge to 48-46.

That was as close as Georgia Tech would get.

Huff, a 7-foot-1 center, knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to thwart Georgia Tech's momentum. A few minutes later, he swished another open jumper to make it 55-48. 

Georgia Tech got a basket and a defensive stop, but Braxton Key swooped on for an offensive rebound to give the Cavaliers a second chance. With just over 2 minutes to go, Diakite was left open on the wing for a jumper that made it 57-50, effectively finishing off the Yellow Jackets.

Jose Alvarado paced Georgia Tech with 20 points.

Virginia led 33-25 at halftime, taking advantage of the home team's sloppy play. The Yellow Jackets hit 11 of 18 shots (61.1%) but turned it over 13 times, wasting far too many possessions against the defensive-minded Cavaliers.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers picked up a desperately needed victory to avoid their longest losing streak since a four-game skid from Feb. 12-20, 2017. While still a far cry from their national championship squad, Virginia showed some offensive efficiency to go along with its always-tenacious defense. Key chipped in with 10 points. 

Georgia Tech: This is shaping up to be another disappointing season, raising more doubts about whether coach Josh Pastner can turn around a program that is approaching a decade since its last NCAA Tournament appearance. The Yellow Jackets continue to show flashes of promise, but Pastner has been unable to develop any sort of consistency in his fourth season. 

UP NEXT

Virginia: Returns home to play North Carolina State on Monday night. 

Georgia Tech: Hits the road for the first of two meetings against No. 11 Louisville. The teams will meet again in Atlanta on March 7, the final game of the regular season. 

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Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

The Capitals may not be participating in Stadium Series this year, but the team is embracing outdoor hockey around Washington for spirited game day fun.

The Caps are hosting Rock The Rink skates at The Wharf, Penatgon Row, Rockville Town Square and The Avenue at White Marsh on select game days from January to March 2020. Fans attending these events can wear Capitals jerseys or gear to get either $5 off admission or free skate rentals.

The Wharf

Jan. 18 at 1 p.m., Jan. 31 at 6 p.m., and Feb 17. at 1 p.m.

Transit Pier will boast a Capitals-paneled ice rink with an ice resurfacer, trivia contests, giveaways, along with a DJ. The Capitals Campire will also boast Adirondack chairs around a fire to roast marshmallows for smores in front of a 14-foot jumbotron screen to watch the Capitals games. 

Pentagon Row

Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. and March 9 at 6 p.m.

These skates will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants. The Caps games will also be on at surrounding bars. 

The Avenue at White March

Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.

This event will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants.

Rockville Town Square

Jan. 31 at 5:30 p.m. and March 5 at 6 p.m.

In addition to the above fun, Rockville native and Capitals hockey ambassador Haley Skarupa will be there on Jan. 31. You can watch the Capitals game at local bars as well. 

Fans attending these events or using local outdoor rinks this season are encouraged to post about it on social media by tagging @capitals and using the hashtag #RockTheRink to enter themselves for a chance to win prizes.

Caps slept through the first 40 minutes, they did not give Holtby much help though he was bad in his own right and Vrana sure did show something with the game-winning goal.

As for no penalties...not so much.

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