KEY LOSSES: DB Ronald Darby, DE Mario Edwards Jr., OL Cameron Erving, DT Eddie Goldman, WR Rashad Greene, G Tre' Jackson, TE Nick O'Leary, RB Karlos Williams, DB P.J. Williams, QB Jameis Winston
ORAL COMMITMENTS (15)
EARLY ENROLEES (7)...
Player Pos Ht./Wt. School Brian Bell LB 6-2/218 Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes Abdul Bello OT 6-6/295 Montverde Academy Deondre Francois QB 6-1/195 IMG Academy Johnny Frasier RB 5-10/229 Princeton (N.C.) Sh'mar Kilby-Lane LB 6-1/209 Hallandale Kai Locksley ATH 6-3/188 Baltimore Gilman Tarvarus McFadden CB 6-2/198 Plantation American Heritage Cole Minshew G 6-6/319 Douglas (Ga.) Coffee Nyqwan Murray WR 5-10/163 Orlando Oak Ridge Lorenzo Phillips LB 6-3/230 East Mississippi C.C. David Robbins G 6-5/305 Glenelg (Md.) Auden Tate WR 6-4/215 Wharton Darvin Taylor DT 6-2/295 Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale A.J. Westbrook S 6-0/173 Daytona Beach Mainland Jalen Wilkerson TE 6-4/227 Douglas (Ga.) Coffee
01/22/15 Auto racing
TAMPA — With the Daytona 500 less than a month away, NASCAR sent three of its Sprint Cup series drivers to Tampa during a promotion for the season-opening race.
Brad Keselowski, the 2012 series champion and last year's most controversial driver, attended a Lightning game last week. Three-time champion Tony Stewart and rookie of the year Kyle Larson stopped by MacDill Air Force Base for a USO tour Tuesday....
ST. PETERSBURG — The last time Anthony Chickillo played at Tropicana Field, he ended up as a star among stars.
Then a five-star defensive end at Alonso High, Chickillo was the most valuable player of the Under Armour All-America Game. He outshined the country's top recruit, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, by recording four tackles, 1½ sacks and a fumble recovery in the high school all-star game victory....
01/15/15 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — After the Lightning mustered only 10 shots through two sluggish periods Thursday night, coach Jon Cooper asked Ondrej Palat and the rest of his team to stop passing up good looks.
"It's a good thing he listened," Cooper said.
Palat scored twice in the third period to give the Lightning a 3-2 win over the Oilers in front of 18,609 at Amalie Arena. By avoiding a three-game slide, the Lightning (28-14-4) secured its sixth consecutive home win and its first of the season when it trailed heading into the third....
01/15/15 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — Though C Tyler Johnson wore a red, no-contact jersey during Thursday's morning skate, neither he nor Lightning coach Jon Cooper formally ruled out a return that night — and with good reason, apparently. Johnson was back in the lineup against the Oilers after missing one game with a lower-body injury.
"I kind of had to work for that," Johnson said.
He entered the game leading the team with 46 points and was second in the league in plus-minus, behind linemate Nikita Kucherov. It was unclear whether Johnson would be able to play in his first All-Star Game on Jan. 25. Johnson said he would leave decisions about his plans for the break up to the Lightning's medical staff....
The Lightning never formally ruled forward Tyler Johnson out for Thursday’s game – with good reason, apparently....
ST. PETERSBURG — Mike Singletary has been to many NFL draft showcase games since he got into coaching 12 years ago, but he'll put his East team in Saturday's East-West Shrine Game up against any he has seen.
"In all honesty, this is the best group of kids I've seen at an all-star game since I've been coaching, and I'm including the Senior Bowl," said the Pro Football Hall of Famer and former 49ers coach. "There are so many kids out here that are impressive, that have high ceilings."...
Marcus Mariota is no longer a Duck. Now is he headed to the Bucs?
Oregon's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback announced Wednesday that he would forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL draft. • "I will always remember the great times and support I received," Mariota, 21, said in a statement. "Once a Duck always a Duck." • Mariota and Florida State's Jameis Winston are regarded as the draft's top two quarterback prospects, and both are potential Bucs targets with the No. 1 overall pick. • The 6-foot-4, 211-pound Mariota led Oregon to the national title game during his junior season. He finished his college career with 105 touchdown passes, 14 interceptions, more than 2,000 rushing yards and almost 11,000 passing yards. • His former college coach, Chip Kelly, declined to talk about Mariota while scouting the East-West Shrine Game at St. Petersburg High because Kelly could end up as Mariota's professional coach, too, with the Eagles. • Mariota's former college teammate, linebacker Tony Washington, said he has no doubts Mariota can become a starting NFL quarterback. • "I feel like he has no reason to stay in college," Washington said after Shrine practice. "He did everything he could to get us to the top … • "He's the greatest player I've ever seen."...
01/11/15 Lightning Strikes
TAMPA — Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness said there aren't any special secrets to a successful road trip.
"There's no way to play on the road or play at home," Bowness said. "There's the right way to play, regardless of where you are."
Bowness believes the Lightning has finally started to play that way consistently.
The Lightning enters tonight's game at Philadelphia with seven wins in its past eight games. As important, it is only six days removed from a strong 3-1-0 road trip....
01/11/15 The Heater
Ben Zobrist heard plenty of trade rumors about his future with the Rays over the past few months.
That still didn't prepare him for Saturday, when president of baseball operations Matt Silverman made the call he said he hoped he would never have to make to deliver the news Zobrist never wanted to hear.
A day after he and shortstop Yunel Escobar were traded to Oakland for catcher/DH John Jaso and two prospects, Zobrist was still coming to terms with the fact that his nine-year career with the Rays was over....
Ben Zobrist heard plenty of trade rumors over the last few months about his future with the Rays....
01/10/15 The Heater
ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays continued their offseason overhaul Saturday by dealing away one of the most accomplished and versatile players in club history.
The Rays traded infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist and shortstop Yunel Escobar to the A's for catcher/designated hitter John Jaso, two of Oakland's top prospects and cash considerations. Tampa Bay also formally announced the signing of free agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera....
Cowboys at Packers, 1, Ch. 13, Packers by 51/2, 52
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers, who hasn't thrown an interception at home since Dec. 2, 2012, has a strained left calf, but he should still be able to attack Dallas' 26th-ranked pass defense, even if he's not as mobile as usual. To help Rodgers, the Packers might rely more on RB Eddie Lacy, who has rushed for at least 97 yards in five of his past six games. Dallas' defense gave up an average 4.1 yards per rush against Detroit last weekend. Only eight teams in the regular season had more sacks than Green Bay's 41, which sounds like trouble for Cowboys QB Tony Romo, who was sacked six times last weekend. ...