Briefs | IMG Academy's Michael O'Connor honors verbal commitment to Penn St.

January 17, 2014 

College football: IMG's O'Connor goes to Penn St.

IMG Academy quarterback Michael O'Connor's decision to early enroll at Penn State University is no longer in doubt. Following Bill O'Brien's departure as the Nittany Lions head coach for the NFL, O'Connor said he was going to weigh his options. Penn State replaced O'Brien with former Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, and O'Connor has opted to stick with his commitment to the Nittany Lions.

O'Connor led area quarterbacks in passing yards this past fall in IMG's inaugural prep football season, which led to his inclusion in the Under Armour All-American Game.

ELSEWHERE -- South Carolina's Steve Spurrier received a one-year contract extension and a raise that will pay the coach $4 million annually. The university board of trustees approved a $700,000 raise and the extension Thursday. The deal ties Spurrier to the school through 2018. ... Louisville coach Bobby Petrino has hired former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham as defensive coordinator and safeties coach. ... An Arkansas State football player, 21-year-old junior defensive lineman Markel Owens, and his stepfather were shot to death during a home invasion robbery in Jackson, Tenn., with the athlete apparently trying to protect his parents from their attackers, police said.

Baseball: Expanded instant replay approved

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Major League Baseball will greatly expand instant replay to review close calls starting this season.

MLB announced that owners, players and umpires have approved the new system.

Each manager will be allowed to challenge at least one call per game. If he's right, he gets another challenge. After the seventh inning, a crew chief can request a review on his own.

ELSEWHERE -- Alex Rodriguez says his season-long suspension could be a benefit, allowing him to rest and return to the Yankees for the final three years of his contract. ... Owners and the players' union remain at work on drafting a rule that would ban home-plate collisions. Former Tampa Bay Rays catcher John Jaso has agreed to a $2.3 million, one-year contract with the Oakland Athletics. ... Free agent veteran outfielder Nyjer Morgan has agreed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians. ... Bobby Parnell is ready to resume his role as the closer for the New York Mets. He has been working out in Florida and says he plans on being the closer until he's told otherwise. ... Right-hander Burke Badenhop and the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a $2.15 million, one-year contract, a raise from $1.57 million. ... Franklin Morales and the Colorado Rockies have agreed to a one-year contract for $1,712,500, avoiding arbitration.

Soccer: McBride, Lilly top U.S. hall ballot

CHICAGO -- Brian McBride and Kristine Lilly are among the first-year candidates for the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame.

McBride is a veteran of three World Cups and scored 30 goals in 96 international appearances from 1993-06. Lilly, a two-time Women's World Cup and Olympic champion, scored 130 goals in an international record 352 appearances from 1987-10.

The Hall said Clint Mathis, Chris Klein, Eddie Lewis, Steve Ralston, Jaime Moreno, Briana Scurry and Kate Sobrero Markgraf are on the 27-player ballot.

ELSEWHERE -- Connecticut goalkeeper Andre Blake was selected by the Philadelphia Union with the top overall pick in the MLS Draft, making him the first goalie to be selected No. 1.

Snowboarding: White crashes in Olympic qualifier

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. -- Shaun White took a face-first fall during his first run in an Olympic slopestyle qualifier and pulled up during his second.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist in halfpipe finished last among the 13 riders.

White was trying a double flip on the second big jump of his opening run when he crashed. He stayed on the ground for a minute or two and was attended to by medical staff before he made his way down the mountain under his own power.

White finished third last month at a qualifier in Copper Mountain and is in good position to make the U.S. Olympic slopestyle team but still needs a high finish in one of the remaining two events to secure it.

There's another slopestyle event later Thursday and the finale is Saturday.

-- Herald staff, wire reports

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