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National Sports Briefs

Associated Press
PARKERSBURG, Iowa ó Thousands of mourners gathered Monday to remember a slain high school football coach as a man of faith who believed in leading by example.
Family, friends and former players packed into a church, community center and parking lot for the funeral for Ed Thomas, the 58-year-old longtime coach at Aplington-Parkersburg High School who was gunned down Wednesday in the school weight room.
Pastor Brad Zinnecker of First Congregational Church said the huge turnout was a testament to Thomas’ faith.
“They recognized a man after God’s own heart,” Zinnecker said. “His personal life and public life were one and the same.”
The number of mourners easily topped the roughly 1,800-person population of Parkersburg as people filled the church, watched a broadcast of the funeral in the community center and spilled into a parking lot to listen to the service.
Thomas worked as a head coach for 37 seasons ó 34 of them at Aplington-Parkersburg. He was named the NFL’s 2005 high school coach of the year and over his career amassed a 292-84 record and two state titles. He coached a number of players who went on to the NFL, including Green Bay Packers linebacker Aaron Kampman, Jacksonville Jaguars center Brad Meester, Detroit Lions defensive end Jared DeVries and Denver Broncos center Casey Wiegmann. All four served as pallbearers.
NFLJACKSONVILLE, Fla. ó The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed tight end Zach Miller.
Miller, a sixth-round pick in April’s NFL draft, signed his contract Monday, becoming the team’s first rookie to do so.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Miller played quarterback at Nebraska-Omaha, where he threw for 4,096 yards and 26 touchdowns while rushing for 3,122 yards and a school-record 50 touchdowns in four seasons.
Jacksonville drafted him as a tight end, and the 180th overall pick has been one of the team’s best pass-catchers during offseason workouts.
– PHILADELPHIA ó The Philadelphia Eagles agreed to terms on a four-year deal with second-round draft choice LeSean McCoy on Monday.The running back from Pittsburgh, taken by Philadelphia with the 53rd overall selection.
COLLEGE HOOPS
LOUISVILLE, Ky. ó With John Calipari at the helm of the SEC’s flagship basketball program, coaches say the conference is heading in the right direction.
In addition to the buzz swirling around Calipari and UK, several of the better players in the Southeastern Conference last year are returning to school.
“Basketball in the southeastern conference is alive and well,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.
Last season, it appeared to be on its death bed.
Only three SEC teams made it to the 2009 NCAA tournament and mighty Kentucky was not one of them.
Now the winningest program in men’s college basketball has a new celebrity coach who has assembled the best incoming freshman class in the country, according to various recruiting web sites.
Calipari, hired on March 31, embraces being an ambassador for the university and says he has been busy.COLLEGE FOOTBALL
AUSTIN, Texas ó Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle was treated for a concussion after crashing his car into an Austin apartment building last week while he was either sending or receiving a text message, his attorney said Monday.
Kindle’s attorney, Brian Roark, said Kindle lost control of the car on June 24 while looking at the message.
“It was probably something he should not have been doing,” Roark said.
The crash caused about $8,700 damage and no one inside was hurt. After the crash, Kindle pushed the car back into the street and went home. He was checked by team doctors and told he had a concussion but did not have to be hospitalized.
HURRICANES
RALEIGH ó The Carolina Hurricanes are keeping Jussi Jokinen, agreeing to a two-year deal with one of the stars of their recent playoff run.
The team said Monday that Jokinen’s new contract will pay him $1.5 million next season and $1.9 million in 2010-11. Jokinen could have become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday.

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