Big Ten

After missing Orange Bowl with injury, tearful Jabrill Peppers says he's undecided on NFL

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AP

After missing Orange Bowl with injury, tearful Jabrill Peppers says he's undecided on NFL

Jabrill Peppers is expected to be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

But is there a chance the do-it-all star could return to Michigan?

Peppers sat out of Friday night’s thrilling Orange Bowl after suffering an injury this week in practice. The Wolverines lost a thriller to Florida State, and after the game, with tears running down his face, Peppers explained that he’s going to take as much time as possible to decide whether he’ll forego his remaining NCAA eligibility and enter the draft.

“I still don’t know what I’m going to do yet,” Peppers said, his comments posted by the Detroit Free Press.

“Do they have a deadline on that? I don’t know. I’ll probably take it all the way up until the deadline. I’ve got some decisions to make. I still feel like I didn’t do what I set out to do as an individual and as a team. We didn’t make the Playoff, we didn’t make the Rose Bowl. And then to come here and lose the Orange Bowl, it just sucks because we worked too hard for it.”

Peppers’ stock could very well never be higher. After winning the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Linebacker of the Year and Return Specialist of the Year awards, he finished in the top five in voting for the Heisman Trophy. Peppers shone in every facet of the game, making a habit of getting in the backfield as a linebacker, racking up plenty of return yards and scoring as a ball-carrier on offense.

Even after Michigan made a wild comeback to take a late lead only to lose it a minute later on Friday night, the biggest topic of conversation was Peppers’ absence.

“I couldn’t even run,” he told reporters after the game. “I told myself if I was at least 80 percent I was going to go. I couldn’t even run, and at that point you’re just going to hurt the team, you being out there and you can’t even run. They’re counting on you to play a certain way.”

Certainly being forced out of a marquee bowl game due to injury is a sour way to end a collegiate career. So too is the way Michigan finished the season, with losses in three of its final four games after starting 9-0.

Like Peppers said, he has some decisions to make.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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USA TODAY

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football. 

"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.

"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.

"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline." 

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."

"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.

"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."

Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

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USA TODAY

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.