Thursday December 28th Local Sports

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton has opted out to prepare for the 2024 NFL draft and freshman Nico Iamaleava will make his first career start for the 25th-ranked Volunteers in Monday’s Citrus Bowl against Iowa.

Milton announced his decision Wednesday on social media. He started his career with three seasons at Michigan before transferring to Tennessee in the spring of 2021. Milton led the Vols to a win in the Orange Bowl a year ago and went 8-4 as a starter this season. He has been with Tennessee through its bowl preparation and will stick around.

Coach Josh Heupel said the Vols are excited to play with Iamaleava.



MEMPHIS — Iowa State defensive back TJ Tampa has opted out of Friday’s Liberty Bowl against Memphis. The Des Moines Register reported Cyclone coach Matt Campbell confirmed the news after Wednesday’s practice. Tampa is expected to be one of the top corners in the NFL Draft. Two years ago running back Breece Hall opted out of the Cheez-It Bowl against Clemson due to his draft status.

Earlier this month Campbell said a decision would be made as game day approached.

Meanwhile Memphis has named Jordan Hankins as the interim defensive coordinator for Friday’s Liberty Bowl against Iowa State. Former defensive coordinator Matt Barnes took a job on the staff at Mississippi State. Hankins has been serving as linebackers coach.

Hankins says not a lot has changed leading into the Liberty Bowl.

Hankins says the Iowa State offense is difficult to prepare for.

Kickoff in Memphis on Friday afternoon is scheduled for 2:30.



MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson says the world “definitely realizes” how valuable Kirk Cousins is to the team since Cousins’ season-ending Achilles tendon injury. The Vikings have used three quarterbacks since Cousins got hurt, and their offense has been inconsistent. Cousins will be a free agent after the season. Jefferson says he appreciates everything Cousins has done for the team. He added that he doesn’t feel like he needs to advocate for the organization to bring Cousins back, but that he will always put in a good word for Cousins. He says they “have a great connection.”



GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander has been suspended by the team for Sunday night’s must-win showdown against Justin Jefferson and the Minnesota Vikings.

The decision stems from, but wasn’t limited to, Alexander appointing himself a captain for the Packers’ 33-30 Christmas Eve win at Carolina.

Alexander was suspended one game for “conduct detrimental to the team,” the club said in a statement.

Making matters worse, he almost cost the Packers a possession.

When the Packers won the toss, Alexander said the defense wanted to be on the field first rather than saying he wanted to defer the choice to the second half. Fortunately for the Packers, coach Matt LaFleur had told the officiating crew led by Alex Kemp what he wanted in advance.

The suspension means Alexander won’t be on the field for Sunday night’s game at Minnesota. Both teams are 7-8 and need a win to stay in the NFC playoff race.



MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins have agreed to terms with right-handed reliever Josh Staumont on a one-year contract, the team’s first major league free agency move of the offseason. The 30-year-old Staumont pitched five seasons for the Kansas City Royals, saving eight games with a 4.01 ERA. The hard-throwing righty has 191 strikeouts in 168 1/3 innings. He had a 5.40 ERA in 21 games for Kansas City last season before landing on the injured list on June 7 and missing the rest of the season. He later underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.



IOWA CITY — The Iowa men return from the Christmas break on Friday night and host Northern Illinois in their final non-conference game. The Hawkeyes are 7-5 while Northern Illinois is 6-5.

That’s Iowa coach Fran McCaffery who is happy with his rotation as they get ready to resume Big Ten play.

McCaffery expects freshman forward Ladji Dembele to play Friday night. He missed the last game against Maryland-Baltimore County with a leg injury.

Freshman point guard Brock Harding continues to make progress. He is coming off a 10-point, 12 assist effort in a win over UMBC and could be in line for even more minutes.

Tipoff on Friday night is scheduled for 6 o’clock with the pre-game starting at 5 o’clock on AM-1300 KGLO.



ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Ryan Hartman and Marcus Foligno scored 52 seconds apart in the third period to break a tie and the Minnesota Wild defeated the Detroit Red Wings 6-3. Kirill Kaprizov extended his goal-scoring streak to four games, Marcus Johansson scored twice and Matt Boldy added a goal for Minnesota, which has won four in a row and seven of eight. Filip Gustavsson made 25 saves. Patrick Kane scored for the fourth straight game and Alex DeBrincat and Daniel Sprong added goals as the Red Wings lost for the sixth time in seven games.