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Zach Wilson college timeline: How BYU QB went from barely scouted to undoubted in 2021 NFL Draft



NFL Draft 2021 rumors: Jets have 'committed' to BYU's Zach Wilson, says Steve Young

Zach Wilson 

The BYU quarterback exploded in 2020 for 33 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions, adding another 10 touchdowns on the ground, building his resume from first-round talent to QB2 in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Whether it was by his dazzling schoolyard-ball type play or his babyfaced assassin looks, Wilson’s meteoric rise up NFL draft big boards has planted him firmly in the conversation for the No. 2 overall pick this year. 

MORE: Ranking the top 10 QBs in the 2021 NFL Draft

The scouting reports all read the same about Wilson: Cannon arm, accurate, ability to improvise and make off-platform throws, good processor but questions about his build, competition played against, leadership and overall athleticism crept in. 

Needless to say, analysts, evaluators and others love Wilson’s game; They love it so much that he equaled Justin Fields as the consensus QB2 in the draft, with some even believing he’s the de facto QB1 in the draft. We can probably pump the brakes on that.

Before Wilson hears his name called on the big stage in Cleveland, here’s how he got there: 

Zach Wilson timeline

June 12, 2017: Wilson, a standout quarterback of Corner Canyon High School in Draper, Utah, verbally commits to Boise State. Wilson plans to graduate high school early to get a jump on his college career. 

Oct. 2017: Even with a commitment to BYU, Wilson receives offers from other schools, including Cal, Minnesota, Utah State and Iowa. Not exactly a who’s-who of college football powerhouse programs.

Dec. 13, 2017: After an official visit with the school, Wilson decides against enrollment at Boise State, and instead entertains offers from other schools. 

Dec. 21, 2017: Wilson commits and signs a letter of intent with BYU during the early signing period.

Aug. 9, 2018: Wilson gets his first action as Cougars quarterback, attempting two passes and completing one vs. McNeese State. 

Oct. 13, 2018: Wilson gets his first start as BYU quarterback vs. Hawaii. He goes 16-of-24 passing for 194 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the victory. He becomes the youngest starting quarterback in BYU history.

Oct. 27, 2018: In a game vs. Northern Illinois State, Wilson makes the SportsCenter top 10 after evading a defender, hurdling another and stiff-arming a third. The hurdle-stiff-arm combination will be played ad infitum over the coming years.

Dec. 21, 2018: A year to the day that Wilson commits to BYU, he goes a perfect 18-for-18 passing in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (yes, that’s a real bowl), mashing Western Michigan. He notches 317 yards and four touchdowns in the effort. He finishes his go as BYU quarterback with 12 touchdowns to three interceptions, 1,578 yards over nine games. 

Aug. 29, 2019: During BYU’s media day, Wilson admits that he had been playing with a labrum issue in his throwing shoulder since high school, and had it surgically repaired in December. Wilson also says he has a labrum tear in his non-throwing shoulder that will eventually require surgery.

Sept. 28, 2019: In a matchup vs. Toledo, Wilson throws an interception and in the process of making the tackle on the defender, fractures the thumb on his throwing hand. He has surgery during the week to have it fixed, and misses over a month.

Dec. 24, 2019: Not quite the Christmas gift Wilson was likely hoping for: In a Hawaii Bowl loss to Hawaii, Wilson throws two interceptions in the season finale. He battled labrum recovery and the thumb injury during the year, finishing his 2019 season with 2,382 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Wilson was, though, named BYU MVP for the season.

Aug. 31, 2020: After some doubts to whether or not Wilson would be named starter for his junior season at BYU, he’s listed as QB1 on the team’s depth chart ahead of the season opener vs. Navy. 

Oct. 16, 2020: Wilson has perhaps the best game of his BYU career, throwing 400 yards and four touchdowns vs. Houston. He goes 25-of-35 passing on the day. 

Dec. 22, 2020: In his final game as a BYU Cougar, “Zach the Ripper” shreds UCF in the Boca Raton Bowl, throwing three touchdowns on the day for 425 yards, adding another two scores on the ground. He finishes the 2020 season with 33 touchdowns to three interceptions and another 10 rushing touchdowns. Wilson earns the single highest season passing Pro Football Focus grade.

Jan. 1, 2021: To ring in the new year, Wilson announces a new era: He declares for the 2021 NFL Draft on Twitter. 

March 27, 2021: At BYU’s pro day, Wilson puts on a show. Jaws drop when he nails a rollout post-route bomb that sails for over 50 yards.

April 29, 2021: With the second pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select… 

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Golden years: Olympic team selection of Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi reinforces 2021 as prime time for aging athletes



Golden years: Olympic team selection of Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi reinforces 2021 as prime time for aging athletes

When Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi won their first Olympic gold medals, there were no iPhones, Chipotle had a few more than 300 restaurants spread across the country and Netflix still was sending DVDs of motion pictures through the mail.

Oh, my, here we go: Another story of some extraordinary “AARPthletes.”

Bird and Taurasi were named Monday by USA Basketball to the senior women’s national team that will attempt to earn a seventh consecutive gold medal when the 2021 Olympic Games begin July 23 in Tokyo. This will be fifth Olympics for Bird, who is 40, and for Taurasi, who passed her 39th birthday earlier this month.

In a year filled with them, they represent two more examples of athletes extending their excellence well past what had been considered “retirement age” in the past, joining Super Bowl champion Tom Brady (43), PGA champion Phil Mickelson (50) and Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves (46), as well as soccer star Carli Lloyd, aiming to make her fourth Olympic team at 39 and sprinter Allyson Felix, who qualified for her fifth Olympics by finishing second in the 400-meter dash Sunday at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., and will turn 36 in November.

“It’s just been a tremendous journey – playing for that long, and playing aside pretty much family, my friend. It means everything to us,” Taurasi said during the announcement on the Today show Monday. “I think sometimes you get caught up in the history of where this team has been, and we’re trying to take it to the next generation, the younger players. I think we’re just really focused on what we have to do to come home with gold.”

Taurasi and Bird were teammates for two seasons at Connecticut, and in 2001-02, their squad went 39-0 and capture the NCAA championship.

Given the overwhelming strength of the U.S. women’s basketball program and the value of Bird’s experience, she might have been a worthwhile inclusion just to be available in emergencies and to provide leadership through the tournament process and during practices and games.

MORE: Lochte comes up short for in bid for fifth Olympics

That’s not what this is, though. Bird remains among the best point guards in the WNBA, averaging 11.4 points on 52.3 percent shooting and 47.9 percent 3-point accuracy, as well as 6 assists per game, for the team that won the 2020 league championship and is 12-2 and in first place in the Western Conference in the 2021 season.

Taurasi, who can play both backcourt positions, averaged 18.7 points and 4.5 assists last season for the Phoenix Mercury. She has been limited to four games this season because of a chest injury but still has averaged 15.8 points and 3.8 assists.

“I think the most important thing is for the 12 players on the roster to stay healthy,” head coach Dawn Staley said. “There are a lot of players that aren’t on this list that have helped us along the way, This has been a three- to four-year process for us. But you need a great mix.

“When you have the core group of players who have played in multiple Olympic Games, you have to add a mix of youth. And the youth that we’ve added certainly has made it known they want to be a part of the Olympic team, and they put the work in behind it.

“We don’t want to be the team that ends this streak.”

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Bryson DeChambeau explains US Open meltdown: ‘I didn’t have the right breaks happen at the right time’



Bryson DeChambeau had to fly back to Wells Fargo Championship after thinking he missed weekend cut

For a moment, it looked like the reigning U.S. Open champion would make it a second straight title. 

Bryson DeChambeau shot a birdie on the par-3 eighth hole during the final round to put him at 5-under par and move him into the lead with 10 holes remaining. It all fell apart from there. 

Bogeys on both the 11th and 12th holes, and a double-bogey and quadruple-bogey in the 13th and 17th holes, respectively, sunk DeChambeau’s chances of winning, ultimately leading to him falling to 3-over during the U.S. Open and tying for 26th overall. 

After the disappointing finish, DeChambeau said that it wasn’t a poor effort on his part, but rather a product of bad luck. 

“I didn’t get off the rails at all. It’s golf,” DeChambeau said, according to the Golf Channel. “People will say I did this or did that, and it’s just golf. I’ve had plenty of times where I hit it way worse than today and I won. It’s just one of those things where I didn’t have the right breaks happen at the right time.”

MORE: The best moments from Brooks Koepka vs. Bryson DeChambeau rivalry

On the 13th hole, he slipped on the drive to slice the ball into the right rough before later slipping again trying to save himself from too much damage on the hole. It resulted in a double-bogey seven that all but took him out of the running for the championship. 

The struggles on the 13 came right on the heels of a pair of bogeys. 

Later, on the 17th hole, his tee shot hit the ravine and his third shot sailed into a bunker. He overshot out of the bunker and sank to an 8 on the par-4 hole. 

“I hit a great second shot — well, third shot, and the ball just spun too much,” DeChambeau said, according to ESPN. “The wind died down and it landed short and came back off of that front edge into a really, really bad lie. I tried just chopping it out, and I caught the hosel just from a weird line.”

Perhaps even worse for DeChambeau was that when he was leading, rival Brooks Koepka was just a shot behind him. When it was all over, Koepka remained tied for fourth at 2-under for the tournament. 

But DeChambeau said he wasn’t worried about his lackluster performance down the stretch. 

“Right now, I don’t even care. I’ve changed a lot, attitude-wise and everything,” DeChambeau said, according to the New York Post. “It’s frustrating in the moment when it’s happening, but afterwards for me now, I don’t really care as much. I’ve already won [a U.S. Open].’’

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Ben Simmons admits he ‘wasn’t there’ offensively in 76ers’ Game 7 loss to Hawks



Ben Simmons' free throw struggles contribute to 76ers' blown chance to sweep Wizards

There is plenty of blame to go around for why the No. 1 seeded 76ers fell to the No. 5 seeded Hawks in Game 7 to miss out on the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday, but Ben Simmons is stepping up to take some of it. 

Simmons, a former No. 1 overall pick and a huge part of “The Process,” had a disappointing effort in the final game of the series, scoring just five points, and drawing criticism in particular for passing up a dunk late that could have tied the game up and given his team some momentum. 

After the game, Simmons said he just wasn’t playing his best basketball during the pivotal playoff game. 

“I ain’t shoot well from the line this series,” Simmons said, according to ESPN. “Offensively, I wasn’t there. I didn’t do enough for my teammates.

“There’s a lot of things that I need to work on.”

MORE: Ex-NBA player Josh Smith rips Doc Rivers in offensive tirade

Simmons contributed beyond the point column, racking up eight rebounds and a game-high 13 assists. But he attempted only four shots and made two of them. For a player that averaged 14.3 points per game during the regular season, the expectation was certainly that he would attempt more shots than just four when his team needed him. 

With 3:36 to play and the Sixers trailing by two, Simmons was free in the paint after a spin move. But he passed to Matisse Thybulle, who drove and was fouled. Thybulle made one of two, keeping the Sixers down one. Atlanta then went on a 5-0 run to push the lead to 93-87. 

That missed dunk opportunity was not only a focal point of criticism for fans, but also one mentioned by his teammates. 

“Man, I will be honest. I thought the turning point was, you know, when we, I don’t know how to say it, but I thought the turning point was just we had an open shot and we made one free throw and we missed the other and they came down and scored,” Embiid said. 

And Embiid, who scored 31 points with 11 rebounds, didn’t just wait until after the game to show his frustration. 

Simmons explained that he thought Danilo Gallinari was right behind him and that John Collins was coming out of the lane, which would leave open a chance for Thybulle to dunk it, according to ESPN. 

Now the biggest question in Philadelphia is whether Simmons will be a 76er by the time the next season rolls around. For Simmons, the offseason will begin for him by trying to get over this postseason. 

“The first thing I’m going to do is clear my mind and get my mental right,” Simmons said in ESPN’s report. “You got to be mentally tough. You can’t take games for granted. Especially in the playoffs. Every game matters. Every possession matters.”

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