Cal's upset bid at No. 12 Ohio State falls short

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Cal's upset bid at No. 12 Ohio State falls short

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- It's been 40 years since California and Ohio State met on a field. They had enough excitement in one game to make up for that long wait.Braxton Miller lofted a 72-yard touchdown pass to an all-alone Devin Smith with 3:26 left and Christian Bryant snuffed out the Golden Bears' last chance with an interception to power the 12th-ranked Buckeyes to a 35-28 win on Saturday.The Golden Bears (1-2) missed three field goals and had a touchdown called back by a penalty, while the Buckeyes (3-0) gave up 512 yards and were manhandled for much of the second half.Taking over at Ohio State's 25 with the score knotted, it took just three plays until on third-and-7 a defensive back thought Miller would run and he instead threw deep to a wide-open Smith.Bryant then picked off Zach Maynard's pass and returned it 38 yards to end the Bears' last threat with about a minute left.Ohio State built a 20-7 lead at half but managed 25 yards and no first downs on 14 plays in the third quarter.Cal's brightest star was undoubtedly backup tailback Brendan Bigelow, who raced 81 yards on his first carry of the game - the longest run ever by an opposing back in 90-year-old Ohio Stadium. Maynard then kept on a 1-yard sneak to give Cal a 21-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.Miller, who was 16 of 30 passing for 249 yards and four touchdowns with one interception, then guided the Buckeyes 75 yards in 11 plays, capping it by running a play that Ohio State coach Urban Meyer brought with him from his days at Florida with Tim Tebow.Miller kept the ball, took a step forward, then stepped back and flipped a pass over the middle to Jake Stoneburner for the final 3 yards - his second score of the game from Miller.Miller then carried on a conversion run for a 28-21 lead.Just two plays later, Bigelow, who finished with 160 yards on only four carries, burst through the Ohio State defense for a 16-yard run and then topped that on the next play with a 59-yarder to tie the game at 28.Miller promptly turned the ball over by throwing an interception directly to Cal defensive back Steve Williams.The Bears patiently drove to the Ohio State 25, where the drive stalled. On fourth-and-1, they called timeout. While almost all 105,232 in Ohio Stadium thought coach Jeff Tedford would elect to go for it, instead, he sent junior kicker Vincenzo D'Amato out for a 42-yard field goal. He was wide left with 4:20 left, his third kick that sailed left of the mark on the day, missing twice from 42 and once from 40 yards.With an anxious crowd waiting to explode, Miller misfired on first down from his own 25, handed to Jordan Hall, making his first appearance of the year, on second down for 3 yards. Then he rolled right and appeared to be preparing to turn the corner on a run. That was enough to freeze defensive back Alex Logan.Miller stopped, set his feet, and threw a long pass to the right sideline where Smith had enough time to turn around and wait on the fluttering pass. He caught it and raced in untouched.Now down by seven, the Bears still had a shot to tie. But Maynard overthrew a receiver with 1:09 left and Bryant picked it off.Isi Sofele added 86 yards on 21 carries for Cal, while Maynard completed 26 of 37 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown with the late interception.Hall had 87 yards on 17 carries in his debut after missing all of fall camp due to surgery for a cut tendon in his foot.Smith closed with 145 yards on five carries. Touted Cal receiver Keenan Allen had nine catches for 80 yards.At halftime, Ohio State honored its latest inductees into its athletic hall of fame.Among those honored was a sub on the 1960 national championship men's basketball team who became much better known as a head coach. Bob Knight won three national titles at Indiana and won 902 games with the Hoosiers, Army and Texas Tech.Knight, long estranged from his alma mater but welcomed back in recent years by current men's coach Thad Matta, received a long, warm ovation.Also honored at halftime were astronaut and Ohio native John Glenn and his wife Annie.

Stanford star McCaffrey boosts NFL Draft stock with special teams skills

Stanford star McCaffrey boosts NFL Draft stock with special teams skills

INDIANAPOLIS -- More and more college coaches are putting their starters and even their stars on special teams as they seek to pile up every possible point in an era of pedal-to-the-metal shootouts and never-safe leads.

Fading fast are the days when superstars would catch their breath on the sideline when the kicker or punter trotted onto the field with the scrubs.

NFL teams love it.

Watching how players handle themselves as a blocker, gunner or returner provides a glimpse into a prospect's range, selflessness and versatility. It also delivers a sneak peek into how coachable he'll be, says Phil Savage, the SiriusXM NFL Radio host who spent two decades as an NFL coach, scout and executive and now oversees the Senior Bowl.

"I think because of the landscape of college football where scoring is at a premium, you've got to figure out a way to put points on the board not only on offense but through your special teams and defensively, as well," Savage says. "These coaches want to get these young players on the field as soon as possible, and a way to do that is utilize them on special teams."

These tapes provide a bonus to pro scouts.

"Now you have a vision of what that player might forecast to in the NFL as a young player and, specifically, as a rookie," Savage said.

Offensive and defensive coaches have a better idea of the types of players they're integrating into their schemes, and special teams coaches no longer get blank stares and blank canvases from the rookie class.

"Not only do you like the fact that they come in and have experience doing it, but you love the mentality if you're a coach and a decision maker that this guy isn't a diva, he's got no ego about it, he understands the team and puts team before self," says ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay.

"And he comes in with the mindset of 'What can I do to help the team and how can I contribute?' Those are the guys that seem to make it and last longer in the league because they're just willing to do different things and whatever it takes."

The prime example in this year's draft class is Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey , a "dynamic player than can do it all," according to Broncos GM John Elway.

McCaffrey gained more than 5,000 yards from scrimmage in his college career and added almost 2,000 more as a returner.

"There's just a lot of big plays open in the return game," McCaffrey says. "You see special teams have such an impact on the game today. Any time I can have the ball in my hands, I feel like I can do something dangerous, and that's really why I love the return game."

Other highly touted draft prospects who polished their resumes on special teams include Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, LSU safety Jamal Adams, Washington wide receiver John Ross, and USC cornerback Adroee' Jackson, all of whom are projected as high selections.

McShay says "we're seeing more and more programs put an emphasis on special teams and having their key players contribute in one or more areas on special teams."

He pointed to Ohio State, where Urban Myers coaches special teams himself.

"It's a major emphasis there, and so you'll see some more guys typically lined up and contributing that are starters and stars," McShay says. "It's an honor to be on special teams."

Not a burden.

"It is not uncommon now to see people that are going to be picked in the first round having 100-plus special teams plays," suggests NFL draft consultant and former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt.

He pointed to the University of Florida, where Gators defensive backs cover kickoffs as well as they do receivers.

"Everyone's always trying to get their best guys on the field," Brandt says.

That's a change from years past when coaches feared exposing their star players to the extra hits.

The added value benefits the players, whose multiple talents allow NFL general managers to address many needs.

"We're seeing more emphasis on it in college, and I think NFL teams love to see it because if just means you're getting a bit more for your buck," McShay says.

Top talents who bolstered their value by playing special teams:

CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY , RB, STANFORD: He shined at the combine working out with the running backs and was as impressive running routes. Asked if there was anything he couldn't do, the son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey said then: "I can't sing."

JABRILL PEPPERS , S, MICHIGAN: He worked out with safeties and linebackers at the combine, where teams talked of him playing RB and WR in addition to returning kicks. "The bottom line is I'm a ballplayer and I'm a hell of a ballplayer," Peppers said.

JOHN ROSS , WR, WASHINGTON: He caught 81 passes with 17 TDs last season but actually posted more return yards (2,069) than scrimmage yards (1,924) in his college career.

ADOREE' JACKSON , CB, USC: One of the best special teams coverage players in the NCAA, Jackson also scored eight TDs on punt and kick returns in college. His punt return averages rose from 6.0 yards to 10.5 and 15.8.

JAMAL ADAMS , S, LSU: Another star in coverage, Adams' defensive mentality extends to special teams. "I love being on the field and just playing football," said Adams, whose father, George, was a first-round pick by the Giants in 1985.

ALVIN KAMARA , RB, TENNESSEE: In a deep running back group, Kamara separates himself with his special teams acumen. "A lot of teams have been bringing up special teams," Kamara said.

DESMOND KING , CB, IOWA: He had eight interceptions as a junior and three as a senior. "I had a really good special teams season," King said. "Not being targeted as much, I still went out there and competed the best I could and was still making plays."

CHRIS WORMLEY , DE, MICHIGAN: Wormley touts playing for Jim Harbaugh as one of his attributes. "Coach Harbaugh came in and ran our program like an NFL program, like he had with the 49ers," said Wormley, who blocked three kicks his senior season.

ZAY JONES , WR, EAST CAROLINA: Like McCaffrey, he has good NFL bloodlines (son of Robert Jones, brother of Cayleb Jones). He caught 158 passes as a senior, but spent his first two seasons in college also making his mark as a returner.

Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

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Former Napa star Josh Jackson leaving Kansas, entering NBA Draft

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday after one of the best freshman seasons in Kansas history, one marked by plenty of highlights on the floor and a few distractions off it.

The 6-foot-8 swingman, who is considered a certain lottery pick, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and its 13th straight regular season Big 12 title before losing to Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.

"After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Jackson said in a statement Monday.

"I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas," he said, "and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA."

Jackson was the nation's No. 1 recruit when he signed with the Jayhawks out of Prolific Prep Academy in California. He immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup, teaming with national player of the year Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to form one of the nation's top backcourts.

With natural athleticism and ability to slash to the basket - not to mention defensive chops that are rare among freshmen - Jackson quickly established himself as one of the nation's top draft prospects.

His importance was never more evident than in the Big 12 Tournament, when he was suspended by coach Bill Self following a series of off-the-court issues. The top-seeded Jayhawks stumbled in a quarterfinal loss to TCU, ending their run at the conference tournament before it really began.

He returned for the NCAA Tournament and played well in wins over UC Davis, Michigan State and Purdue, but was hamstrung by foul trouble and managed just 10 points in a season-ending loss to the Ducks.

Jackson's suspension came following an incident outside a Lawrence bar in December, when a member of the Kansas women's basketball team got into an altercation with Jackson's teammate, Lagerald Vick.

Jackson followed the woman to the parking lot and the woman said he kicked her car and caused hundreds of dollars in damage. He pleaded not guilty last week in Douglas County District Court to one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property and a trial is scheduled for May 24.

His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he was planning to file for diversion.

Jackson also was ticketed in February after he struck a parked car and fled the scene, and that drew Self's ire when he didn't tell his coach about the incident until several weeks later.

His decision to declare for the draft came a week after teammate Svi Mykhailiuk announced he would skip his senior season. But unlike Jackson, the 6-8 sharpshooter has not hired an agent and could withdraw his name by May 24 and return to the Jayhawks.