Redskins

Stanford TEs Ertz, Toilolo to enter NFL draft

Stanford TEs Ertz, Toilolo to enter NFL draft

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Tight End University is graduating two more of its finest.

All-American Zach Ertz and fellow redshirt junior Levine Toilolo announced Monday that they would forego their final year of eligibility at Stanford to enter the NFL draft.

While the moves had been somewhat expected, the Cardinal's recent run of success - and the emergence of quarterback Kevin Hogan - made both consider returning for one more run at a national title.

``Kevin's special, man. All those guys coming back on defense, I think they're going to be one of the best teams in the country next year,'' Ertz said by phone. ``They're going to be really good. But at the same time, I have to do what's best for me and my family at this time. I couldn't pass up the opportunity.''

Luke Kaumatule and Devon Cajuste will be in the mix to replace both next season. Standout fullback Ryan Hewitt also has played tight end sparingly, and Stanford coach David Shaw said last week that tight ends have been his biggest focus in recruiting.

After all, the two are the latest Cardinal tight ends to head to the NFL.

Coby Fleener was drafted 34th overall by the Indianapolis Colts last year. Jim Dray (2010) is playing for the Arizona Cardinals and Konrad Reuland (2011) for the New York Jets.

``Stanford's had a lot of great tight ends for sure,'' Ertz said. ``Guys like Jim and Konrad really started it lately, and I'm just thankful to have been a part of it.''

Ertz submitted paperwork to the NFL to gauge where he could be selected. He's expected to be a late first-round or early second-round pick in April.

After playing in the Orange Bowl and Fiesta Bowl the previous two years, Ertz had a team-best 69 receptions for 898 yards and six touchdowns while leading No. 8 Stanford (12-2) to the Pac-12 title and a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. The Cardinal had not won the Rose Bowl since 1972.

Ertz delivered in the biggest moments of the year, too. He caught the tying touchdown to force overtime in a win at top-ranked Oregon, the winning score against No. 2 Southern California and a 17-yard reception on fourth-and-9 on the final drive of regulation against Arizona to rally Stanford from a two-touchdown deficit for an overtime victory.

The 6-foot-6, 252-pound Ertz starred at nearby Monte Vista High School in Danville, Calif., where coaches convinced him to leave basketball behind and focus on football. Former San Francisco 49ers standout and four-time Pro Bowl tight end Brent Jones also helped mentor and mold Ertz into an elite blocker and receiver.

Back in seventh grade, Ertz hated football so much he wanted to quit. Instead, his mother, Lisa, convinced him to give the sport a chance- if nothing else just so he could see his full potential.

``I'd say it worked out all right,'' Ertz said.

Ertz plans to take the winter quarter off before finishing his degree in management science and engineering in June. He will train at California Strength in San Ramon, Calif., the same facility where former Stanford receivers Ryan Whalen and Chris Owusu worked out before they headed to the NFL.

Toilolo's departure is based more on his potential than production.

He had 24 receptions for 393 yards and four touchdowns last season. He's not nearly as polished as Ertz, but at 6-foot-8 and 265 pounds, Toilolo's size is enough to make scouts salivate.

A native of La Mesa, Calif., Toilolo majored in science, technology and society. Toilolo, who also is on pace to earn his degree in June, released a statement thanking his coaches, teammates and professors for helping him reach his goals.

``To all of my teammates, I wish you all the best of luck next season,'' Toilolo said, ``and I look forward to being able to cheer for you guys during the National Championship Game!''

---

Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

Quick Links

Josh Johnson, Redskins had a message before the Jaguars game, 'F– it'

Josh Johnson, Redskins had a message before the Jaguars game, 'F– it'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- On Sunday, Josh Johnson started his first NFL game since 2011. For the first time in his NFL career, Johnson won a game as a starting quarterback. 

His career arc has been anything but normal, but for Johnson, the win in Jacksonville carried more weight than most. 

"I know every opportunity I get could be my last one, that’s just the reality of my situation," Johnson said. "I just want to leave it all out on the field. I owe this game that much because I love it that much."

Johnson's situation is unique, and just getting a start in 2018 is a big surprise. It only happened because the Redskins had two quarterbacks break their legs, Alex Smith and Colt McCoy, and Mark Sanchez was wholly ineffective at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense. So Gruden turned to Johnson, somebody the coach knew from his days in Tampa, a decade ago. 

"That’s Jay. He’s always been the same. That’s what I love about Jay. He’s been consistent with me since day one when I met him in Tampa," Johnson said. "I respect people who are consistent. He never changes who he is. He respects his position and he does a great job at coaching us."

Gruden turned to Johnson because the coach believed the passer gave the Redskins the best chance to win. Yes, Johnson has played for 12 NFL teams, but there's a reason so many organizations have had interest over the years. He has a big arm and good wheels on top of natural leadership capabilities. 

Against the vaunted Jaguars defense, it was almost as important what Johnson didn't do as what he did. 

The Redskins didn't turn the ball over once, and largely, that's a credit to Johnson. No interceptions. There was a fumble, but Morgan Moses recovered it. 

When the Redskins won games earlier this season, winning the turnover battle was a huge portion of their winning formula. With Johnson in charge, the offense did their part. 

He also completed 16 of 25 passes for 151 yards and threw the game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Johnson also made plays with his legs when he needed to, rushing nine times for 49 yards. 

A number of Redskins players talked after the game about Johnson's poise, about believing in him at QB even without much evidence to support that belief. Trent Williams said after the game that the team could feel Johnson taking control of the offense during practices leading up to the Jacksonville game.

In a way, much like Gruden trusted Johnson from their time spent together in Tampa many years ago, the team trusted Johnson on Sunday even after only a 16 throws in a Redskins uniform.

It says something about Johnson too, and something about his situation.

For the quarterback, it was about a message. A mindset. 

"It was all about resiliency. We had a message in the week. I’m not going to say the words, but it was ‘f’ it. We just said we wanted to have that mentality, and everybody applied that out there. You felt it in the sideline. We were never rattled. It was my job as the quarterback to make sure I keep my cool because the defense feeds off the offense; the offense feeds off the defense, special teams. It was just a great team effort."

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

LeBron James had his worst-ever game against the Wizards in Lakers' loss

LeBron James had his worst-ever game against the Wizards in Lakers' loss

No Wizards fan needs to be reminded of the torment their favorite team has suffered at the hands of LeBron James for the last decade-and-a-half. He has eliminated them from the playoffs three times, scored 57 in their building and hit a variety of game-winning shots.

So, it should be considered no small feat what the Wizards did on Sunday night in their 128-110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. They held James, arguably the league's best player, to only 13 points. That's his lowest scoring total ever against the Wizards franchise.

James has played the Wizards 65 times over the years, between the regular season and the playoffs. His previous career low vs. the Wizards was 14, back on Feb. 7 of 2004, when he was a rookie.

While in the Eastern Conference for his first 15 NBA seasons, James played the Wizards four times a year and often had the upper-hand. In his career, even with Sunday's loss, he is 30-19 against them with a 26.9 points per game average.

Usually, James powers his way to the rim against the Wizards and scores at will. Not on Sunday night.

"I have no clue," head coach Scott Brooks said when asked for the secret to shutting him down.

"It seems like every night it's 40 points here. He makes shots. Last year, here I think he averaged [39.9 points, 11.0 assists and 10.0 rebounds]. He's a pretty good player."

James shot just 5-for-16 from the field on Sunday, good for 31.3 percent. He was 0-for-2 from three and had four turnovers with only three assists. He was a -21 in the box score.

Some of James' struggles could be attributed to fatigue, as the Lakers played the night before in Charlotte. And James did have an off-night with some missed shots he would otherwise make.

But the Wizards had a plan and it worked. They deployed Jeff Green to guard him in isolation. Green is not only the Wizards' best match from a physical standpoint, he knows James well having played with him last season with the Cavaliers.

Green did an excellent job matching James' physical style without fouling. He had only one foul on the night despite playing bump-and-run coverage on many of James' drives to the basket.

Green and the Wizards also took away his three-point looks by closing early and making him pass to teammates. James' two three-point attempts were a season-low.

"Give a lot of credit to Jeff. Jeff did a great job," guard John Wall said. "It was one game. We know he is how he is. Just gotta tip your hat for us, making him make tough shots and make plays tonight."

The Wizards wanted others to beat them from long range and James' teammates didn't come through. While James didn't get off many threes, other Lakers did. They just didn't hit them.

Josh Hart went 0-for-5 from long range. Lonzo Ball went 2-for-7 and Kyle Kuzma went 0-for-4. 

“I think we did a good job of making it difficult on [James], showing him a lot of bodies, active hands," guard Bradley Beal said.

With James in check, the Wizards took advantage. They forced 22 total turnovers and that allowed Wall to feast in transition. He scored a season-high 40 points and dished 14 assists.

For one night, the Wizards had James' number. After 16 years of domination, it was about time.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: