National champ Alabama loses top underclassmen to NFL Draft
National champion Alabama again will try to keep rolling after losing three underclassmen to the NFL Draft.
All-Americans Trent Richardson, Dont'a Hightower and Dre Kirkpatrick said Thursday they are leaving school to start pro careers, three days after helping the Crimson Tide to their second national title of their careers.
"To leave a legacy like me and Dre have left here, to have two national championships in three years, I think that's pretty big for us and our family and for the University of Alabama," said Richardson, a Heisman Trophy finalist and Doak Walker Award winner as the nation's top running back.
Richardson and Kirkpatrick, a cornerback, attended a news conference in Tuscaloosa announcing their decisions, while middle linebacker Hightower issued a statement.
Alabama had a school-record four first-round selections last year, including underclassmen Marcell Dareus, Julio Jones and Mark Ingram. The Tide came back and went 12-1, moving to 36-4 in the past three years.
Also: Louisiana State All-America cornerback Morris Claiborne announced he would leave school a year early to enter the NFL Draft. Claiborne, who led the Tigers with six interceptions this season and returned one for a touchdown, won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back.
Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson told the Colorado Rockies he has decided to play in the NFL rather than stay in the baseball team's minor league system.
Wilson made up his mind after helping Wisconsin reach the Rose Bowl. He was drafted by the Rockies in the fourth round with the 140th pick two years ago. The second baseman hit .229 in two seasons with five home runs and 26 RBIs in the Northwest and South Atlantic leagues.
Joe Paterno's son, Scott, said it's becoming apparent that his father's ouster as Penn State head coach by school trustees "was not handled well." Scott Paterno's comments were in response to a trustees' statement that Paterno was immediately removed and not allowed to retire after the season because of "extraordinary circumstances."
The latest words from the trustees come amid escalating criticism on the board and President Rodney Erickson for how the university handled the immediate aftermath of child sex abuse charges against retired defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
Former Arizona coach Mike Stoops is headed back to Oklahoma as an assistant coach for his brother Bob.
Stoops was the co-defensive coordinator for Oklahoma from 1999 to 2004 and helped the Sooners win the 2000 national championship before spending the past seven-plus seasons at Arizona. His arrival throws into question the future of defensive backs coach Willie Martinez and possibly defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
Ohio State cornerback Dominic Clarke was charged with drunken driving, less than three months after he was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct. Court records show Clarke pleaded not guilty in Franklin County court in Columbus. He was charged Saturday with running a stop sign, speeding and operating a vehicle while impaired.
Bishop Gorman High School running back Shaquille Powell has been named to the PARADE All-America football team. Powell, the Las Vegas Review-Journal Class 4A Player of the Year, rushed for 2,458 yards and scored 44 total touchdowns in leading the Gaels to their third straight Class 4A state title.
Powell, who has committed to Duke, was one of seven running backs on the 53-player PARADE team.
Canada's DeLaet nabs two-shot Sony lead in return to PGA Tour
Canadian Graham DeLaet, on the PGA Tour a year after undergoing back surgery that made him wonder if he would play golf again, chipped in for eagle and twice holed 35-foot birdie putts for a 7-under-par 63 that gave him a two-shot lead after the first round of the Sony Open in Honolulu.
Carl Pettersson, former Sony Open champion K.J. Choi and Kyle Reifers were at 65. Kapalua winner Steve Stricker, trying to become the first player since Ernie Els in 2003 to sweep the Hawaii events, was among 12 golfers at 66.
"I'm just so excited to be back out," DeLaet said. "I had a good season my rookie campaign, and then it was all basically just taken away. And I realize now how fortunate we are to be playing golf for a living. My whole attitude is definitely better."
Also: Ireland's Damien McGrane and England's Jamie Elson each shot an 8-under 63 to share the lead in the rainy first round at the Joburg Open in Johannesburg, South Africa. Almost half the field, including defending champion Charl Schwartzel, failed to complete their rounds because of a four-hour rain delay.
Mets lefty Santana hopeful, won't commit to healthy return
Sixteen months after shoulder surgery, Johan Santana hopes to be back on the mound for the New York Mets when the season starts. He just doesn't want to commit to it.
"It's going to be tough for me to guess, because I don't know how I'm going to be in two months," the injured left-hander said.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner hasn't pitched in the major leagues since Sept. 2, 2010, 12 days before an operation repaired a torn anterior capsule.
He made three minor league rehabilitation outings totaling eight innings last July 28, Sept. 3 and Sept. 9 and resumed throwing on flat ground about three weeks ago.
Also: Outfielder Carlos Gomez and the Milwaukee Brewers agreed to a one-year deal worth $1,962,500, avoiding salary arbitration. Gomez played in 94 games for the Brewers last season, batting .225 with eight home runs and 24 RBIs.
The Cleveland Indians signed free-agent reliever Chris Ray to a minor league contract. The 30-year-old right-hander is 18-19 with a 4.10 ERA and 51 saves in 283 major league appearances.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are on the same half of a Grand Slam draw for the first time since 2005, meaning defending champion and No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic won't have to play either of his biggest rivals unless he reaches the Australian Open final.
Reigning women's champion Kim Clijsters could meet French Open winner Li Na in the fourth round, in a rematch of the 2011 Australian final.
They are in the same quarter as No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki. On the opposite side, five-time Australian Open champion and 12th-seeded Serena Williams is in the same quarter as former major winners Maria Sharapova, seeded No. 4, and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Defending champion Li Na reached the Sydney International final with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 over Petra Kvitova, ending the Czech's bid to become No. 1 before the Australian Open. Kvitova needed to win the Sydney International to replace Caroline Wozniacki atop the rankings when they are updated Monday.
Na will meet third-seeded Victoria Azarenka in the final. The Belarussian beat Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke remained in critical condition in a Salt Lake City hospital after a successful operation to repair a tear to an artery that caused bleeding in her brain. Doctors put Burke into a coma to decrease swelling and pressure on her brain after her accident Tuesday, and she had surgery the next day.
Burke, a four-time Winter X Games champion in halfpipe skiing and one of the leading pioneers of her sport, injured herself while practicing on the halfpipe in Park City, Utah.
Toronto Maple Leafs forwards Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul were added to the roster for the NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa, Ontario, as the league began announcing players for the Jan. 29 showcase. Kessel is second in the league in scoring with 48 points. Lupul has 47 points.
Also placed on the roster were NHL leading scorer Claude Giroux and Kimmo Timonen of Philadelphia; Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane of Chicago; Dustin Byfuglien of Winnipeg; Brian Campbell of Florida; and Jamie Benn of Dallas.
Montreal traded forward Michael Cammalleri to the Calgary Flames for forward Rene Bourque, a day after Cammalleri was quoted as saying the Canadiens "play like losers." General manager Pierre Gauthier said he had been working on deals to make the team bigger for more than a month, and denied Cammalleri was traded because of his comments.
Bourque, who has 13 goals and three assists this season, has one game left on a five-game suspension. Cammalleri has nine goals and 13 assists.