Wizards

PSU's McGloin, Mauti prep for draft in own way

PSU's McGloin, Mauti prep for draft in own way

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Matt McGloin went Hollywood. Michael Mauti went home to Louisiana.

Miles from the campus they called home for five years, the two Penn State stars have taken different routes to prepare for their shots at the NFL. After helping to lead the Nittany Lions to a surprising 8-4 season, they began to focus on the next level ... in their own way.

``The weather is great,'' said McGloin, a Scranton, Pa., native, joked about training in southern California. ``A lot better than the 6-degree weather back home.''

There was little time to party or hit the beach, though. McGloin, a quarterback who had a six-day-a-week workout schedule, is scheduled to play in the ``Texas vs. The Nation'' all-star game Saturday in Allen, Texas.

``Just landed. Can't wait to start playing ball again,'' McGloin posted on Twitter this week. It would be his first action since the emotional 24-21 win over Wisconsin in the season finale Nov. 24.

Mauti, a linebacker, has been training back in Louisiana. A stellar senior season ended early after Mauti had to miss the finale with a left knee injury. Previous injuries - one to each knee - cut short two seasons in Mauti's career.

He declined to give more specifics on his knee, other than saying that things were going well while training for the NFL Combine. He's already tried to make a good impression with the personal touch of sending hand-written notes to all 32 NFL general managers.

``Feedback,'' he said, ``has been positive so far.''

The stoic Mauti embraced a high-profile leadership role during the challenging 2012 season, working with fellow seniors Michael Zordich and Jordan Hill to help keep most of the team together after the NCAA handed down strict sanctions in July. Mauti will be known as one of the best leaders in the history of the program, but he sought a change of scenery after the draining season.

Mauti was a known commodity when he arrived at Penn State in 2008, becoming a key reserve and special teams player in a freshman year that foreshadowed his future contributions to the program.

The rags-to-riches story of McGloin - Mauti's freshman year roommate - is now well known throughout Pennsylvania. McGloin climbed from a walk-on under former coach Joe Paterno to record-setting starting quarterback in the spiced-up passing attack in 2012 under first-year coach Bill O'Brien, the former offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots.

A year for McGloin that included school records for career touchdown passes and single-season passing yards ended with the senior winning the Burlsworth Trophy, an award given to the top college player who started his career as a walk-on.

``I've run New England's offense for a year,'' said McGloin, as if running off bullet points from his resume. ``I've been around an NFL practice, day in and day out.''

After the surprising success of his senior year, the confident quarterback headed to Los Angeles for offseason workouts. He said the workout facility also hosted notable prospects like Alabama offensive lineman Chance Warmack and Oregon running back Kenjon Barner.

McGloin was focusing on combine drills like 40-yard dash starts and the broad jump. Throwing mechanics were important areas of concentration, too.

``Finishing throws,'' McGloin said, ``being more balanced and doing a lot with my core and legs for throwing than using my arm.''

He might have a longshot chance at getting drafted, though analysts have predicted McGloin could sign on as a free agent.

Of course, McGloin has already proven he can overcome long odds to succeed at quarterback.

Quick Links

Predicting the 2018-19 NBA awards and the NBA Finals: LeBron James will win MVP

nba1819.png
USA Today Sports

Predicting the 2018-19 NBA awards and the NBA Finals: LeBron James will win MVP

With the 2018-19 NBA season kicking off this week, it seems like a good time to put my predictions out into the universe. 

I am fortunate to be a voter for both the All-Star teams and the NBA Awards, but I can assure you of this: much of this is impossible to forecast. I decided to only include the first team selections for All-NBA, All-Defense and All-Rookie because the less I predict, the less I get wrong.

With that said, here is how I expect the major awards, plus the NBA Finals, to shake out... 

MVP: LeBron James, Lakers

Going to L.A. to play with such a bizarre supporting cast was all by design so he could win his fifth MVP award, right? Okay, maybe not. But if LeBron carries that team to even a fifth seed the trophy should be his.

Defensive player of the year: Anthony Davis, Pelicans

This always goes to a big man and Davis finished second last year. He's probably going to have a monster season overall.

All-NBA first team: G Stephen Curry, G James Harden, F LeBron James, F Giannis Antetokounmpo, C Anthony Davis

All of these guys are going to make the All-NBA team, it's just a matter of which tier. The toughest one to leave off was Joel Embiid, but you can only pick five.

Rookie of the year: Deandre Ayton, Suns

Luka Doncic has become a popular pick here, but Ayton averaged 18.2 points and 10.0 rebounds per game in the preseason. If that is any precursor whatsoever, he's going to be tough to beat.

Sixth man award: Austin Rivers, Wizards

Rivers is a starting-caliber guard now back to playing off the bench. He should help John Wall and Bradley Beal a ton this year and we know he will get buckets. If he can maintain anything close to his scoring average from last season (15.1), he will be on the short-list for sure.

Most improved: Brandon Ingram, Lakers

Though L.A. has a lot of questions, Ingram seems most likely to benefit from James' ability to make those around him better. He should thrive in a secondary scoring role.

Coach of the year: Billy Donovan, Thunder

The Thunder won 48 games last season, but could improve a lot in Year 2 with Paul George. They have loads of talent and Dennis Schroder will fit nicely on their bench.

Executive of the year: Sam Presti, Thunder

You may be sensing a theme here. I see the Thunder becoming the clear-cut No. 3 team in the West and Presti will get plenty of praise for retaining George and getting something legitimate back for Carmelo Anthony.

All-rookie team: Luka Doncic (Mavs), Miles Bridges (Hornets), Marvin Bagley III (Kings), Jaren Jackson Jr. (Grizzlies), Deandre Ayton (Suns)

This is shaping up to be a really good class. Guys like Mo Bamba (great song), Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Wendell Carter Jr. will likely be in the mix as well. 

All-defensive team: G Chris Paul, G Klay Thompson, F Draymond Green, F Anthony Davis, C Joel Embiid

Thompson should finally get his due this year. He is clearly one of the best defenders at his position, but hasn't received the proper recognition for it.

NBA Finals: Warriors over Celtics, 4-2

Picking the champion of the 2018-19 season is too easy and no one should feel good about that. Sports are better when they aren't predictable. But who will finish second is where it gets interesting. I see the Celtics being that team and winning two games in the Finals, though it won't be a close series.

 

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Peter King awards two Ravens with weekly honors for defensive performance vs. Titans

Peter King awards two Ravens with weekly honors for defensive performance vs. Titans

The Baltimore Ravens' Week 6 dominate performance over the Tennessee Titans is gaining national attention. 

A historic game that displayed the offense and defense firing on all cylinders, it's hard to pinpoint who had the biggest impact. 

So in his latest edition of Football Morning in America, NBC Sports' Peter King awarded not one, but two Ravens with weekly honors.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Za'Darius Smith

Against the Titans, Smith led the Ravens defense with three sacks and five tackles in their historic 11-sack game. On of three Defensive Players of the Week, King explained why Smith's performance stood out.

In the most dominant defensive performance of this ultra-offensive season, the Ravens shut out Tennessee 21-0 and had 11 sacks. Another one of GM Ozzie Newsome’s draft gifts that keeps on giving, Smith (2015, round four, Kentucky) contributed three sacks of Marcus Mariota and five tackles in a virtuoso game. Net passing yards for Mariota: 51.

Smith, who's entering the final year of his rookie NFL contract, has shown over six games he deserves to get paid in the offseason. So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble. 

COACH OF THE WEEK: Don "Wink" Martindale

In his first season as defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale has seamlessly made the transition from linebackers coach to leading the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense (12.8). But what impressed King the most from the 21-0 shutout was how Martindale's squad got to Mariota from every direction. 

When a unit records more sacks (11) than completions allowed (10), the leader gets an award. Those are the rules. Martindale’s pass rushers got to Marcus Mariota every possible way—up the middle, around the edges, in the pocket, on bootlegs, you name it. The total set a new franchise record and was one short of the single-game NFL mark of 12. And it came with a familiar face watching: Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees used to hold the same position in Baltimore. Shout out to the Ravens social media team for renaming the account RavenSSSSSSSSSSS, one ‘S’ for each sack.

This Ravens defense, who has always been known for its dominance, is ranked first in points allowed (12.8), first in yards allowed (270.8), second in passing yards allowed (188.0) and third in rushing yards allowed (82.8) heading into Week 7. In addition, they have yet to surrender a second half touchdown all season. Trusting of the talent this roster holds, the respect "Wink" has for his players is equally reciprocated. 

"It was really emotional when they told us we had 11 sacks," linebacker Patrick Onwuasor said postgame. "We just went out there and we were like, ‘We have to get Coach Wink . We have to put the Gatorade on him.’ So, we tried to turn him around so he couldn’t see it coming, and we had to get him real good."

Martindale will now face the No. 1 scoring offense in the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. 

MORE RAVENS NEWS: