Redskins

Older players bring real-life experiences to ACC

201210062331846970404-p2.jpeg

Older players bring real-life experiences to ACC

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Older players who have taken different routes to college football have become mentors in Atlantic Coast Conference locker rooms that are filled with teenagers who have known only football.

The value of players like Clemson's Daniel Rodriguez or North Carolina's Sylvester Williams is about more than what they do on the field.

They're the kind of players coaches want for their maturity and leadership regardless of whether they start every game or play sparingly.

Rodriguez served in Iraq and Afghanistan before walking on for the Tigers. Williams worked a factory job after graduation before deciding to give college football a try and becoming a starter for the Tar Heels.

``They understand the real-life experiences,'' North Carolina State coach Tom O'Brien said. ``Some of these guys right out of high school have no clue about what's out there or what's waiting for them if they don't get their degree or do what they're supposed to do. You have somebody that can say, `Hey, listen, you don't know how lucky you have it being here.'''

O'Brien has one in reserve defensive end McKay Frandsen, a married 24-year-old who went on a 2-year Mormon mission to Alaska before walking on at BYU then going to junior college to earn his way to N.C. State.

Wake Forest's Alex Kinal, a 22-year-old redshirt freshman, spent three years working a construction job in his native Australia before getting a shot to play for the Demon Deacons. He's now their starting punter.

At Florida State, there's offensive lineman Menelik Watson. The 23-year-old junior graduated from high school in England in 2006, played basketball in Spain and played a year of basketball at Marist. But with his 6-foot-7 frame, he grew interested in football, played at Saddleback College (Calif.) and transferred to be a starting lineman for the Seminoles.

Boston College reserve quarterback Dave Shinskie, 28, spent seven seasons playing minor-league baseball. He started as a 25-year-old freshman and led the Eagles to eight wins, but lost his job the following year to current starter Chase Rettig.

``That probably wouldn't sit well with a lot of people, but Dave is a great teammate and a great asset to our program,'' BC coach Frank Spaziani said. ``We're very fortunate that he contributed to those wins and he's still helping to contribute in a different way. ... I attribute that to some of his maturity and what he's been through.''

Rodriguez, 24, spent 18 months in Iraq and a year in Afghanistan, where he was shot in the shoulder and wounded by shrapnel in a battle in October 2009.

Rodriguez, who earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, had promised a friend who was killed in the attack that he would find a way to play college football if he made it home. He enrolled in a community college, then filmed his workout regimen in a video posted on YouTube that generated inquiries from about 50 schools - including Clemson.

``I wasn't, obviously, brought here on my five-star capabilities,'' Rodriguez said. ``But what I've been through as a man and what I can relate and pass to these guys that are younger than I, having my experience and the hardships I've gone through and overcome, it's definitely something that the guys look up to me for.''

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Rodriguez, who has one catch and has played primarily on special teams for the reigning ACC champions, is ``inspirational.''

``He's been a sergeant of 20 or 40 men in real life and now he's in the locker room with a bunch of 18- to 22-year-old guys who don't really have life figured out yet,'' Swinney said.

At North Carolina, Williams said he struggled in high school and did enough to graduate with his class. He then worked in a factory making radiator parts for large trucks before deciding it wasn't for him and that he would try to play football.

There weren't many options - he had played only one year of high school football - and he ended up walking on at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College armed only with his work ethic and the belief that ``there was something more out there for me in life than there was at that factory.''

He thrived, became an all-conference pick and ended up at North Carolina as a starting defensive tackle with a team-high five sacks.

Kareem Martin, one of Williams' line mates, said watching Williams has taught him a clear lesson: ``You don't want to lose this opportunity.''

``I just kind of tell guys, a lot of guys got here, it was easy for them to get here because they went to the big-time high schools,'' Williams said. ``... Everybody's not going to play in the NFL, just like not everybody's going to play Division I. But you're able to get a free education from the University of North Carolina. Just take advantage of it.''

Williams, who turns 24 next month, even recently pulled the UNC walk-ons aside, telling them he had been in their shoes and they could set themselves apart by working hard every day.

First-year coach Larry Fedora hopes it's a message that sticks with them beyond college.

``I've never been on a team where everybody has the same background, either economically or socially or anything,'' Fedora said. ``And so that's the great thing about being part of a team or a football family: learning from others, learning from the mistakes of others, learning from the positive things of others. ... That's what the real world is all about.''

---

AP Sports Writers Joedy McCreary in Chapel Hill and Pete Iacobelli in Columbia, S.C., and Associated Press writer Brent Kallestad in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.

Quick Links

Redskins at Jaguars Week 15: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Redskins at Jaguars Week 15: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Things have gone downhill fast for the Redskins.

Washington turned in their worst performance of the season this past Sunday, falling to the lowly New York Giants 40-16 at home, marking four straight losses following a 6-3 start to the season. Quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was making his first start since 2015 in place of the injured Colt McCoy, did not last three quarters before he was benched for Josh Johnson. The team had signed Johnson, who had last thrown an NFL pass in 2011, just four days prior. Johnson had to play Madden in order to learn his teammates names.

Surprisingly, there is still a path to the playoffs, even with the team on their fourth quarterback of the season. On Sunday, they travel to Jacksonville for a clash with the Jaguars, a team that was just a few plays away from a Super Bowl berth earlier this calendar year. The Jaguars have been one of the most dissapointing teams in the NFL this season in terms of their preseason expectations, but present a tough challenge for the Redskins this Sunday nonetheless.

Here's everything you need to know...

REDSKINS vs. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS WEEK 15

Who: Washington Redskins at Jacksonville Jaguars

What: Game 14 of the 2018 NFL regular season

When: Sunday, Dec. 16. 1:00 p.m ET

Where: TIAA Bank Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida

TV Channel: CBS

Live Stream: Watch Now with fuboTV -- TRY A FREE TRIAL

Radio: Redskins Radio Network

Point Spread: Jaguars, -7

Over/Under: 36

Weather: 63 degrees, mostly sunny

REDSKINS at JAGUARS TV SCHEDULE:

11:30 AM: Inside the Redskins
12:00 PM: Redskins Kickoff Live (MyTeams App)
1:00 PM:  Redskins at Jaguars (CBS)
4:00 PM: Redskins Postgame Live (MyTeams App)
5:00 PM: Redskins Overtime Live (MyTeams App)

Click here to access NBC Sports Washington's Channel Finder 

REDSKINS 2018 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE

Week 1: Sun., 9/9, @ Arizona Cardinals (24-6, W)

Week 2: Sun, 9/16, vs. Indianapolis Colts (21-9, L)

Week 3: Sun., 9/23, vs. Green Bay Packers (31-17, W)

Week 4: BYE

Week 5: Mon., 10/8, @ New Orleans Saints, (43-19, L)

Week 6: Sun., 10/14, vs. Carolina Panthers, 1:00 p.m. (23-17, W)

Week 7: Sun., 10/21, vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m. (20-17, W)

Week 8: Sun. 10/28, @ New York Giants, 1:00 p.m. (20-13, W)

Week 9: Sun., 11/4, vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m. (38-14, L)

Week 10: Sun. 11/11, @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m. (16-3 W)

Week 11: Sun., 11/18, vs. Houston Texans, 1:00 p.m. (23-21 L)

Week 12: Thu., 11/22, @ Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m. (31-23 L)

Week 13: Mon., 12/3, @ Philadelphia Eagles, 8:15 (28-13 L)

Week 14: Sun., 12/9, vs. New York Giants, 1:00 p.m. (40-16, L)

Week 15: Sun., 12/16, @ Jacksonville Jaguars, 1:00 p.m. (CBS)

Week 16: Sat., 12/22, @ Tennessee Titans, 4:30 p.m. (CBS)

Week 17: Sun., 12/30, vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

Wizards completing new trade to directly acquire Trevor Ariza from Suns, source confirms

Wizards completing new trade to directly acquire Trevor Ariza from Suns, source confirms

The Washington Wizards are set to trade Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Trevor Ariza, NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig has confirmed.

The news was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

News of the newly structured deal for Ariza comes after a whirlwind night of trade reports that initially had Ariza slated to end up in Washington before a miscommunication about the players involved ultimately scuttled a three-team deal between the Wizards, Grizzlies and Suns.

Effectively, the Wizards are poised to do the deal without involvement from Memphis.

The veteran Ariza signed a 1-year, $15-million deal with Phoenix as a free agent this offseason. He is set to come to Washington for his second stint, after having played for the Wizards from 2012 to 2014.

This story is developing. Check back to NBCSportsWashington.com and the MyTeams app for more.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: