Tagged in: December

Jacksonville Jaguars select former Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence with No. 1 overall pick in NFL draft

The wait is over. Trevor Lawrence is finally the Jacksonville Jaguars’ quarterback, as the club selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.

The pick ended a process that started last December when the New York Jets’ Week 16 upset of the Cleveland Browns gave the top selection to Jacksonville.

“Pretty surreal,” Lawrence told ESPN’s Marty Smith on the draft telecast from Seneca, South Carolina, shortly after being picked. “Obviously this has been the dream for the past few years. And like I’ve said, I didn’t even dream this as a kid, so [it’s] really special and just having all the people that I care about here watching, it’s really hard to explain.

“I was super nervous before and just am so excited to be a part of the Jacksonville community. … I’m super excited to be coming to Jacksonville and play for you guys and can’t wait to go to work.”

Make no mistake: There’s a ton of work to do. The Jaguars were 1-15 last campaign, have lost 10 or more matches in nine of the last 10 seasons, and made the playoffs just once since 2007.

The offense has been one of the worst in the NFL in the last decade: They’ve ranked 30th or worse in points scored, yards per game, red zone efficiency, third-down conversion percentage, completion percentage and passer rating over that 10-year stretch.

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Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has no doubt Lawrence can handle it the pressure of turning the franchise around.

Lawrence was the No. 1 recruit in the nation, followed Deshaun Watson at Clemson, and won a national title as a freshman. He’s also lost just four games as a starting quarterback since he entered high school.

“This’ll be a very easy transition,” Swinney said. “He’s well prepared. What he’s stepping into, the expectations, all those things, that’s his normal and it has been for a long time. He’s built the right way. … He is the epitome of consistency and if you know anything about Urban Meyer he values consistency and toughness.”

Lawrence was 34-2 as a starter for the Tigers — the fifth-best winning percentage by a quarterback with at least 30 starts in FBS history. He never lost a regular-season game and threw for 10,098 yards and 90 touchdowns with only 17 interceptions, and he ran for 231 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Owner Shad Khan hired head coach Urban Meyer, who won national championships at Florida and Ohio State, in January to fix the mess. The hope is that the selection of Lawrence, along with Meyer’s hiring, will end the franchise’s prolonged struggles and culminate with the Jaguars’ first Super Bowl appearance.

The Jaguars have drafted three previous quarterbacks in the first round: Byron Leftwich (seventh overall in 2003), Blaine Gabbert (No. 10, 2011) and Blake Bortles (No. 3, 2014), the only one of those three to win a playoff game.

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Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner staying on 2-year, $34M deal

Third baseman Justin Turner is staying put with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he revealed Saturday on Twitter.

Turner’s deal is for two years and $34 million guaranteed, and it includes a club option for a third year, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Turner, 36, became a free agent when his four-year, $64 million contract expired following the Dodgers’ World Series triumph in October. A member of the Dodgers since 2014, Turner is the longest-tenured position player on the team and the third longest overall, behind Clayton Kershaw (2008) and Kenley Jansen (2010).

Turner was a journeyman for the first half of his major league career. He was non-tendered by the New York Mets in December 2013, went unsigned for the next two months and then agreed to a minor league deal with the Dodgers. At 29, he started to establish himself among the game’s most productive third basemen.

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Turner batted .297/.378/.508 from 2015 to 2019, accumulating 105 homers, 147 doubles and 21.9 FanGraphs wins above replacement in 645 regular-season games.

He made an All-Star team, concluded within the top 10 in National League MVP voting on two occasions and set the tone for the Dodgers’ hitting philosophy as their most consistent performer.

Along the way, Turner contributed several memorable postseason moments, most notably his walk-off home run versus the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 of the 2017 NL Championship Series. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, he ranks first in Dodgers postseason history in hits (79), home runs (12), runs (40) and RBIs (41).

His crowning achievement finally came last season, when Turner — a lifelong Dodgers fan who grew up in Lakewood, California, and identifies Kirk Gibson’s famous pinch-hit home run in the 1988 World Series as his first baseball memory — helped lead the franchise to its first championship in more than 30 years.

Turner posted a 1.066 OPS in six World Series games versus the Tampa Bay Rays, but his career highlight became tarnished after Major League Baseball informed the Dodgers in the late stages of the eventual clincher that Turner had tested positive for COVID-19.

Turner, the Dodgers’ player rep, was removed to start the eighth inning of Game 6 and wasn’t on the field to celebrate the final out. But he broke protocol and reentered the field to take pictures with the World Series trophy and was seen around teammates without a mask, drawing the ire of MLB officials and rampant criticism from people throughout the country. MLB ultimately decided not to discipline him.

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NBA discusses delaying start of 2020-21 season until December

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and team owners examined delaying the start of next season until December due to complications with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski — an idea that is reportedly gaining traction among owners.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the NBA to suspend operations on March 11. The league presently doesn’t have any specific plans to resume play. 

The NBA officially postponed both the draft lottery and scouting combine on Friday, both of which were scheduled to take place this month in Chicago. It did not delay the draft itself — which is currently scheduled for June 25 — however “there’s an increasing belief that it’s just a matter of time” before that happens, per Wojnarowski. 

There were more than 1.1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Friday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 64,500 deaths attributed to the virus.

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Most sports leagues in the country, including the NBA, have considered playing matches without fans present upon return.

The idea behind delaying the start of next season, per Wojnarowski, is to allow fans to be present for as much of the season as possible. 

“If you start in December, that doesn’t mean the [fans] are coming back in December, but maybe they’re back in March,” one owner told ESPN. 

While talks occurred on Friday, there are “no imminent plans” to make any decisions about next season now. Before that plan is made, the league will almost certainly need to determine how it will move forward with the rest of the current season. 

Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said in March that he believes beginning the season in mid-December rather than in mid-October would eliminate competition with most other professional sports leagues. Instead of competing with the NFL and college football for the first few months of the season, the NBA would be able to dominate the winter and summer — where Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour are, for the most part, alone in the sports world. 

Doing so would push the NBA Finals to August, which would allow the season to conclude just before football begins again each fall.

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