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Kelly will return to Notre Dame next season

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Kelly will return to Notre Dame next season

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly will be trying for his first BCS championship, instead of a Super Bowl title, next season.

The third-year Fighting Irish coach, who interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier in the week a day after the Irish were beaten 42-14 by Alabama in the BCS title game, says his interest with the NFL is over for now.

``Like every kid who has ever put on a pair of football cleats, I have had thoughts about being a part of the NFL. However, after much reflection and conversation with those closest to me, I have decided to remain at Notre Dame,'' Kelly said in a statement released by the university Saturday evening.

``This decision was motivated purely by my love for Notre Dame and the entire Fighting Irish community, the young men I have the great fortune to coach, and my desire to continue to build the best football program in the country,'' he said.

The remarks were the first comments by Kelly since news broke late Wednesday that he had interviewed with the Eagles.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday night that he believes Kelly interviewing for an NFL job and deciding to stay in South Bend is a positive.

``I think what you get to say to young men is you're going to be coached by somebody who is recognized by the NFL as a really excellent NFL coach,'' Swarbrick said.

Swarbrick said he was confident all along that Kelly would be back, said he continued to negotiate a contract extension with Kelly's agent during the past week.

Swarbrick said those talks began in early December and were put on hold as the BCS game approached because Kelly wanted to be focused on the game.

Swarbrick said Kelly's talks with the Eagles didn't affect contract negotiations.

``There is nothing about either the dynamic or the substance which was changed by the past week,'' he said. ``Somewhere down the road we're both confident it will result in a revised agreement.''

Kelly originally signed a five-year contract three years ago at a reported $2.5 million a year and was given a two-year extension a year ago

Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports said it was too early to tell whether Kelly's talk with the Eagles will hurt what was expected to be Kelly's best recruiting class at Notre Dame and possibly the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.

``The key thing now is to call all the top players and assure them he's never going to leave while he's there, even if you lie, you've got to say it, and convince them it was just a thing,'' Lemming said. ``If they believe it, they'll stay.''

Lemming said the Irish already lost one recruit, linebacker Alex Anzalone, who is expected to enroll at Florida.

Kelly led the Irish to a 12-1 record this past season and a No. 4 ranking, their best finish since they were No. 2 with an 11-1 record after the 1993 season, which is the last season the Irish won a major bowl game.

The Irish haven't won a national championship since 1988. He failed to join Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz as Irish coaches who won national titles in their third seasons at the school.

``We still have a lot of work to do and my staff and I are excited about the challenges ahead,'' Kelly said.

The Eagles, who also interviewed Oregon coach Chip Kelly and Penn State's Bill O'Brien, said in a statement saying they spent a lot of time and effort looking at coaches they believed were the best collegiate candidates.

``We did so knowing that there was a remote chance that these coaches would leave their current posts. We understood that going into the process, but we wanted to leave no stone unturned while trying to find the best head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles,'' the statement said.

``We have no regrets about the effort we made in that direction and we will continue to proceed as planned in our search.''

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Dwight Howard reportedly takes another positive step in post-surgery recovery

Dwight Howard reportedly takes another positive step in post-surgery recovery

Dwight Howard is back. Back in town, at least.

According to a report from The Athletic, the Wizards’ center, sidelined since undergoing back surgery on Nov. 30, is expected to start on-court work in Washington.

The original timeline indicated a 2-3 month recovery timeline for Howard, who played in nine games for the Wizards but none since Nov. 18 against Portland. Howard, 33, has primarily rehabbed post-surgery in his native Atlanta.

Washington returns to practice Wednesday following the NBA All-Star break. The Wizards, 24-34, face the Hornets Friday in Charlotte before hosting the Indiana Pacers Saturday.

Needing to jump three teams for a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, the Wizards could certainly use more help. Whether that help comes from Howard remains to be seen. The report did not indicate if Howard would rejoin the team's full practices or when he would return to the lineup.

Howard missed training camp, preseason and the opening seven games while dealing with back and gluteal pain. The future Hall of Famer only played seven minutes against the Trail Blazers before exiting.

Less than two weeks later Dr. Robert Watkins performed a L4-L5 lumbar microdiscectomy after consultation with the Wizards’ medical staff determined disc herniation was causing severe nerve irritation and gluteal pain.

Washington signed the free agent center to a two-year, $11 million contract in July after trading longtime starter Marcin Gortat in June. The Wizards hoped Howard’s interior presence on both ends of the court would provide the team with needed low-post scoring, rebounding and rim protection.

Though he averaged 12.8 points and 9.2 rebounds, Howard labored athletically. Washington struggled throughout the season on the boards.

His absence created an opportunity for second-year center Thomas Bryant, who has developed into an efficient scorer and energy provider.

The second season on Howard’s contract is a player option, an option he seemed likely to execute without returning to the court this season. For now, the question is how much can he help the Wizards with 24 games remaining.

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2019 NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Who are the Redskins taking at 15?

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2019 NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Who are the Redskins taking at 15?

As the calendar turns toward spring, one thing consumes the NFL: mock drafts. Leading up to the NFL Draft on April 25, many will try to predict which players each of the 32 teams will select. Though no one will know for sure until the names are called, it's still interesting to see what potential directions teams might go in.

Let's take a look at what some people believe the Redskins will do with their first round pick.

ESPN's Mel Kiper's NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Drew Lock (QB, Missouri) Kiper currently has Washington taking a quarterback in the first-round, but maybe not the one people were expecting. While Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins are viewed as first-round locks by many, the Missouri product's placement in the draft is not as certain. In this scenario, Kiper has Murray and Haskins off the board before Washington gets on the clock, making Lock the best available passer remaining. In his senior seaosn, Lock finished with 3,498 passing yards and 28 touchdowns.

CBS Sports' R.J. White: Devin White (ILB, LSU) Not a quarterback here. White has the Redskins using a pick on the junior linebacker. With questions surrounding what will happen with Zach Brown as well as pass-rushing linebacker Preston Smith, White could fill a need for the Redskins. 

CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson and Chris Trapasso: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) The Redskins take a passer in both of these mocks as well, just a different one. Jones, the junior from Duke, slides in at No. 15 behind both Murray and Haskins. However, Wilson also has Lock going before the Redskins pick, while Trapasso has him falling to No. 28. 

Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) More Jones here for the Redskins. The passer, who threw for 22 touchdowns in 2018, is the fourth quarterback off the board in this mock draft as Haskins, Murray and Lock all go in the top 10. 

USA Today's Luke Easterling: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) Starting to see a theme here? Not only does this mock draft have the Redskins selecting Jones, but it has them moving up to No. 12 to make the selection. Easterling describes Jones as, "a raw but promising passer." 

NFL Analyst Charley Casserly: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) Describing him as a passer with "excellent field vision, anticipation and accuracy," Casserly likes Jones in Washington.

NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig: Montez Sweat (DE, Mississippi St.) As mentioned earlier, Preston Smith's time with the burgundy and gold could be coming to an end. Sweat, who recorded 11.5 sacks last season, impressed at the Senior Bowl and could make an impact from Day 1. While many see the Redskins taking a quarterback, Standig sees inside linebacker as a priority

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