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Penn State's 2012 football season for the ages

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Penn State's 2012 football season for the ages

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) The white banner fluttered in a stiff breeze before being removed from the east facade of Beaver Stadium to reveal ``2012'' in bold, blue numerals next to the years marking unbeaten or championship campaigns.

The 2012 season will be remembered in Happy Valley for a long time to come for reasons beyond wins and losses.

``It's exciting to go down as one of the great teams in Penn State history,'' senior quarterback Matt McGloin said after the rousing 24-21 win Saturday over Wisconsin. ``To have that season stapled on the stadium forever is a great feeling.''

Coach Bill O'Brien said after Saturday's win that acting athletic director Dave Joyner had called him earlier in the week about adding 2012 to the facade.

``When they put your 2012 team up there with those teams ... that means a lot,'' O'Brien said. ``I'm not sure there are many bowl games out there that are going to be played like that one. There's a lot there and just a fantastic senior class.''

The seniors went out in style.

The tense, overtime thriller came down to a stellar defensive effort spearheaded by tackle Jordan Hill, a 37-yard field goal in the extra session by redeemed kicker Sam Ficken, and the 44-yard miss by Wisconsin's Kyle French that finally brought the season to an end on a chilly, late November night.

And so a campaign that began with the dark cloud of NCAA sanctions hanging over the program because of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal ended with smiles and relief. The Nittany Lions (8-4, 6-2 Big Ten) would have been a lock for a New Year's Day game had the penalties not included a four-year bowl ban.

Not that it mattered to star linebacker Michael Mauti.

``That's better than any bowl trip I've ever been a part of,'' said the senior, who wore his familiar No. 42 jersey over jeans after being sidelined with a left knee injury.

Fiery on the field, Mauti is known as much for a humble persona off it. He doesn't like the spotlight and deflected media attention off his injury and on to the rest of the team in the week leading up to the game.

All the while, his teammates wore ``42'' on the side of their white helmets in honor of Mauti, a suggestion made to O'Brien by Hill and fellow team captain Michael Zordich. Penn State's other outstanding outside linebacker, Gerald Hodges, switched from his No. 6 jersey to 42 in another grand gesture for Mauti in his last game in blue and white.

There's plenty of time left to wonder about Mauti's future. After the game, Mauti continued to brush aside questions about the severity of his injury, choosing to reflect on the remarkable end to an unparalleled season.

Back in July, two days after the NCAA levied the penalties, about two dozen teammates surrounded Mauti and Zordich as they made impassioned public statements that they were sticking with Penn State.

Other seniors like McGloin, Hill, Hodges, cornerback Stephon Morris and center Matt Stankiewitch also helped keep the team together through tough times, like the 0-2 start and the 35-23 loss last month to No. 4 Ohio State.

While Mauti was expected to be a star this year, McGloin's emergence as the best passer was a surprise - and a testament to the coaching job by O'Brien in his first season. The former Patriots offensive coordinator and position coach to star quarterback Tom Brady had McGloin running the Nittany Lions' new up-tempo offense to near-perfection by year's end.

McGloin averaged a league-best 272.6 yards passing and completed more than 60 percent of his 446 pass attempts with just five interceptions. He displayed his trademark confidence - which some people equate to a cocky swagger - but was held in check if he went too far by O'Brien and quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher.

A former walk-on, McGloin finished with 24 touchdown passes to tie Daryll Clark (2009) for the school's single-season record. Under O'Brien's tutelage, McGloin also set school records this year for single-season passing yardage (3,266) and career touchdown passes (46).

Mauti was asked how the senior class would be remembered.

``I don't know if I can even really put that in words right now,'' he said. ``Maybe in a couple of years from now I'll be able to look back and answer. I am just proud to be a part of it. It's been the most fun I've ever had playing with the people I've never been closer to.''

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Follow Genaro Armas athttp://twitter.com/GArmasAP

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More good injury news for Wizards, this time with Troy Brown Jr. and C.J. Miles

More good injury news for Wizards, this time with Troy Brown Jr. and C.J. Miles

WASHINGTON -- With their regular-season opener set for Wednesday, the Wizards keep getting positive news with the injuries that have plagued them throughout training camp and the preseason. On Monday, both Troy Brown Jr. and C.J. Miles made their practice debuts and Moe Wagner also practiced after getting hurt in the team's last preseason games.

Brown has been out all of preseason due to a strained left calf. Miles has also missed all of preseason after having surgery on his left foot in July. Wagner has been dealing with a bruised back after a collision with Joel Embiid of the Sixers. It sounds like he could be fully cleared soon.

Head coach Scott Brooks tempered expectations on Brown and Miles, noting they did not participate in a full practice and that the regular season is just two days away.

"They went through parts of practice, but not the meat of it, not the bulk of it. But it's a good step," Brooks said.

When asked if Brown and Miles would play on Wednesday when the Wizards battle the Dallas Mavericks, Brooks said he doesn't "anticipate that happening." But for them to get out there at all is a good sign given they are slated to be the top two small forwards on the roster.

With Brown and Miles likely still out for the opener, Brooks may have to go with a big lineup including Rui Hachimura and Davis Bertans, or with someone with little NBA experience like Isaac Bonga. He had Bonga start in several preseason games with them out.

For Brown, this has been the longest injury absence of his young career. He had never missed this much time previously at any level.

He was just happy to be back on the court Monday, even if he wasn't yet cleared for contact.

"It's just one of those things where I was itching to get back. A lot of time off, it can be good and back. I just tried to use it as a learning lesson," he said. 

Brown and Miles practicing came one day after point guard Isaiah Thomas practiced fully for the first time since his left thumb surgery in September. With so many players out, Brooks wasn't able to get a full read on his new-look roster during the preseason.

But slowly and surely his players are coming back and it may not be long before the Wizards can suit up with the roster they had in mind during the offseason.

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Redskins running back Bryce Love is headed for another knee surgery, per sources

Redskins running back Bryce Love is headed for another knee surgery, per sources

Redskins rookie running back Bryce Love is expected to undergo another surgery on his previously injured right knee on Tuesday, sources tell NBC Sports Washington.

Love, currently in Pensacola, Fla., to see famed knee surgeon Dr. James Andrews, tore his right ACL last December while he was a senior at Stanford University. The Redskins selected Love in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft but he has yet to play this season. He landed on the Physically Unable to Perform list before training camp opened and many believed the 2019 season would be lost for the runner. 

Asked about Love’s status last week, Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan was non-committal. 

“We’ll just see where he’s at,” Callahan said. “He’s still in the rehabilitation process.”

Love's injury-riddled 2018 season really damaged his standing in the 2019 NFL Draft. As a junior at Stanford in 2017, Love rushed for more than 2,100 yards and 19 touchdowns. He averaged an absurd 8.1 yards-per-carry that year. 

Many expected Love to turn pro after his junior year, but he elected to stay at Stanford. Playing on a worse team as a senior, Love was not as explosive even before the knee injury and his stats dropped. In 10 games, he had 739 rush yards but his YPC dipped to 4.5, the lowest of his four-year career and the only time his average fell even below 7. 

That decision and the subsequent torn ACL probably cost him significantly in draft status. 

Moving forward, it’s unclear what Love’s rehab schedule will look like. NFL Network reported back in April that some teams had concerns over Love's injury and lingering knee stiffness. One source explained that Love's medicals from the NFL Scouting Combine revealed that some doctors believed another surgery would be necessary. 

Even without Love, the Redskins have other injury concerns at running back. Derrius Guice is on injured reserve but on track to return to the team after their Week 10 bye. Adrian Peterson hurt his ankle in a loss to the 49ers and his status is unknown. Chris Thompson is dealing with turf toe. 

As a player on the PUP list, Love became eligible to return to practice after the Redskins' win in Miami. He does not have to play or practice all year, though, and can remain on the PUP for the entire season. The Redskins retain his rights for four years on his rookie contract. 

A Redskins spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

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