Texas Tech TE Amaro to enter NFL draft

LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech’s record-breaking tight end Jace Amaro will forego his senior season and declare for the NFL draft.

Amaro broke the NCAA all-time record for receiving yards in a season for a tight end with 1,352 during his junior campaign, eclipsing the mark of 1,329 set by Rice’s James Casey in 2008. Amaro finished with 106 receptions and seven touchdowns.

The decision came after racking up 112 yards on eight catches in Texas Tech’s 37-23 win over No. 16 Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl.

"I feel like it was the best decision for me personally," said Amaro. "It was a really hard decision for me because I love all these guys. They mean the world to me, and of course I want to come back. At the same time it’s just too much of an opportunity to pass up."

Amaro joins North Carolina’s Eric Ebron and Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins in a young, talented tight end class.

Astros sign Crain

HOUSTON — The Houston Astros have agreed to terms with pitcher Jesse Crain on a one-year contract.

The White Sox traded Crain to Tampa Bay in late July, but he did not appear in a game for the Rays. The right-hander went 2-3 with a 0.74 ERA in 38 relief appearances prior to the trade.

Crain, an American League All-Star in 2013, dealt with a shoulder injury late last season.

"Jesse Crain is a proven, quality reliever that will help us win games in 2014," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "We targeted him early in the offseason and are excited to bring him on board."

Crain has posted a 45-30 record with a 3.05 ERA in 532 career appearances (all in relief) with the Twins (2004-10) and White Sox (2011-13). His 45 wins in relief since his MLB debut in 2004 are tied with Chad Qualls for tops in the big leagues in that span.

Crain joins Matt Albers and Qualls at the back of a much improved Astros bullpen.


Fisher signs new contract with Seminoles

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State head football coach Jimbo Fisher has officially signed a new five-year contract, the school announced Tuesday.

The top-ranked Seminoles will play No. 2 Auburn in the BCS National Championship game on Jan. 6.

"We are extremely pleased with the direction of our program and believe that his new contract will assure that coach Fisher is in place to lead the Seminoles for a long time to come," Florida State athletic director Stan Wilcox said in a statement.

"Coach Fisher enjoys the full support of the leadership of the university and we look forward to the continued success of our football program on the field and in the classroom."

Fisher had been rumored to be a candidate for the head-coaching position at Texas.

Fisher has compiled a 44-10 record in four seasons since replacing the legendary Bobby Bowden.


Leafs ink Phaneuf to 7-year extension

TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed captain Dion Phaneuf to a seven-year contract extension.

Financial terms were not released, but TSN of Canada reported the deal to be worth $49 million.

The team made the announcement on the eve of the Winter Classic. The Maple Leafs will battle the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium on New Year’s Day.

Phaneuf has four goals, 11 assists and a plus-13 rating in 39 games this season.

"Dion is our team leader and has been a pillar in our building process," Maple Leafs senior vice president and general manager David Nonis said in a statement Tuesday. "He has proven to be a very durable and reliable defenseman in all facets of the game. He plays big minutes in every situation for us and we’re pleased to have him under contract for the next seven seasons."

The 28-year-old defenseman was set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Schumacher improving, has second surgery

Seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher underwent a second surgery to alleviate pressure on his brain, though the auto racing legend still remains in critical condition as he battles a traumatic head injury from a skiing accident over the weekend.

Doctors at the French hospital handling Schumacher reported Tuesday that the 44-year-old’s condition has improved slightly following the latest procedure, which involved the removal of a large mass of blood from the left side of his brain. The retired racer continues to be in a medically induced coma, however, with his long-term prognosis still uncertain.

Schumacher hit his head after a fall while on a family ski trip Sunday in the French Alps. He was wearing a helmet, which the doctors said likely saved his life.

The native German, who retired from Formula One racing at the conclusion of the 2012 season, was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Moutiers and then moved to Grenoble.