Big Ten

Badgers RB Corey Clement tired of Gordon comparisons, wants to pave own path

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Badgers RB Corey Clement tired of Gordon comparisons, wants to pave own path

Wisconsin running backs carry more than just the rock in Madison. They bear a rich legacy of success at the highest level in college football. 

So will Corey Clement be the next in line to run wild at Camp Randall?

It's fair to try and make comparisons between Clement and his predecessor Melvin Gordon III since he worked with the new San Diego Chargers running back.

But it doesn't mean Clement likes it.

"It sucks," Clement said. "I’m tired of it. I can only be Corey Clement to the only extent possible. I mean it’s great to be compared to in a sense of ‘Wow, you and Melvin were on the same team.’... At the end of the day when I guess my season is over then you guys can do all the comparison you guys want because I can only be Corey Clement."

[MORE B1G: The Man in Madison: Stave hopes senior year is record-setting]

Because Gordon was performing at superhuman levels in 2014, Clement didn't get much of an opportunity in critical game action. Most of the snaps he saw was when the Badgers were up big and playing against worn out or backup defenders. Still, Clement was able to post solid numbers for any normal running back: 147 carries for 949 yards (6.5 YPC) and nine touchdowns. 

The junior admits Gordon's ridiculous work ethic rubbed off on him, even when Gordon was working out and he was sleeping.

"He performed the way he did because of what he did when nobody thought he was doing it," Clement said. "Especially that 3 A.M. workout he was doing when everyone else was asleep, including me. This is why he did the numbers he did because the guy was just so committed."

Coming out of high school, Clement was a four-star recruit from New Jersey and was listed on most recruiting websites as the top Badgers commit of the 2013 class. Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave believes Clement's sacrifice of not playing early to learn under greats such as James White and Gordon has paid off big time for the new starter. 

[MORE B1G: Ohio State thinks Braxton Miller can be impact player at WR]

"Corey is a guy who, at a lot of programs, could have been a starting running back his freshman year but instead he comes here where he’s behind James White, who’s one of the most consistent football players I’ve ever been around for four years, and Melvin, and everyone knows what Melvin can do," Stave said. "He’s done a great job of just kind of being patient, making the most out of his carries, making the most out of his opportunities for the past two years.

"Right away in this offseason he understands that it’s his year, it’s his backfield now and he’s excited to step into that role of being the guy at the tailback position."

But with great power comes great responsibility. New Badgers coach Paul Chryst recruited Clement out of high school so he has familiarity with the new Badger starting back. Finally reuniting this summer in Madison, Chryst is encouraged by what he's seen so far of Clement's mindset heading into the biggest year of the running back's football career so far. 

"I like where he's at right now," Chryst said. "I think he's excited for this next step in his progression as a player. And that's being you know, the starting tailback at Wisconsin which has been a position that's had a lot of great players ahead of him. And I think he's confident that he can add to that list. And I think he's excited for that opportunity quite honestly."

[MORE B1G: Tim Beckman dodges while players support embattled Illinois coach]

Chryst's offense certainly won't shy away from the Badgers strength of running the football. Clement's workload is about to be doubled from last year and the opportunity he's been waiting so patiently for is hanging out in the open ready to be snatched like a handoff. So the next potential star back in Madison is going to do the only thing he knows how to do: be him.

"My coaches are allowing for me to excel at perfect my craft," Clement said. "There’s a lot of things I can do on a daily basis, when I’m not working out I’m in the film room. I just try to be the best that I can be. I’m not going to be Melvin Gordon. I’m going to be Corey Clement."

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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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.