Cubs

Illini LB Brown named finalist for Butkus Award

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Illini LB Brown named finalist for Butkus Award

Jonathan Brown brought a ray of sunshine to an otherwise gloomy Illinois defense on Monday. The junior was announced as one of 12 semi-finalists for the Butkus award for his outstanding play at linebacker this season.
"It's a great honor to be a semifinalist. Hopefully I can keep playing at a high level and win," Brown said with a smile on Monday.
That the Illinois junior has played well enough to be among the semi-finalists this year is rather amazing. For the past few weeks Brown has not been able to perform at his peak because of injury.
Illinois coach Tim Beckman called Browns ability to gut it out and stay on the playing field, courageous.
He hasnt been 100 percent, you can see that on filmbut hes stepped up and tried to do what he is capable of doing to help us win football games, he said.
Brown acknowledged he has been less than his best this year, but expects to be at or near his best in Illinois final five games.
Me personally, Ive been banged up. I havent been as explosive as I can be, he said. Its been a challenge the past couple of weeks, but that doesnt matter anymore. Ive moved past it and Im feeling good right now. Im excited to get back on the field.
Im good to play, thats all that matters to me. This week got me closer to 100 percent. You cant go through the Big Ten season at 100 percent; youll always have a bruise or something. Thats how the game is played, he added.
Brown added that some of his, and the entire defenses, issues (aside from injury) have come as a result of the coaching and personnel changes from last year to this year. He did not use that as an excuse, however, and asserted that the defense would be much improved beginning with Illinois game against Indiana on Saturday.
So far this year Brown has amassed 44 tackles, including 1.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss. He has forced a fumble and recovered a fumble as well. In the 2011 season Brown had a total of 108 tackles, with six sacks and 19.5 tackles for a loss.
The Butkus award, named for Dick Butkus, the legendary Illinois and Chicago Bears linebacker, honors the nations best high school, collegiate and professional linebackers annually. The collegiate winner will be announced on December 4.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Yu Darvish, Jim Thome, Sammy Sosa and more

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Yu Darvish, Jim Thome, Sammy Sosa and more

Tuesday on Sports Talk Live, David Kaplan along with Chris Bleck, Rich Campbell and Jordan Bernfield discuss:

            -the posibility of the Cubs signing Yu Darvish and the need for one more pitcher in the rotation

            -Jim Thome looking like he'll be inducted into Cooperstown tomorrow

            -Sammy Sosa's Hall of Fame chances

            -Corey Crawford back to working out as the Hawks losing continues

            -DeMarcus Cousins with a game for the ages, but is his baggage worth signing him?

            -Do the Eagles have a chance of beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl?

1-on-1 with Antioch quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis

1-on-1 with Antioch quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis

Need proof that the college football recruiting process is evaluating and offering players younger than ever before? All you need to do is ask Antioch quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis (6-foot-3, 185 pounds).

Kaliakmanis, who as a freshman was Carmel's starting quarterback before transferring to his home school district after the fall semester, recently landed his first verbal scholarship from Syracuse. Kaliakmanis, who is also on several college recruiting radar screens this winter, was easily one of the stronger performers in a loaded quarterback field at the recently held EDGYTIM MLK Underclassmen Showcase, powered by EFT Football Academy. 

I caught up with Kaliakmanis and discussed how Syracuse gave him his first scholarship, his recent transfer to Antioch and much more.