Big Ten

Big Ten National Signing Day roundup: Where every team ranked

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USA TODAY

Big Ten National Signing Day roundup: Where every team ranked

An awful lot of attention is paid to National Signing Day, perhaps far too much considering the vast majority of the players trumpeted won't make impacts for their teams for years.

But surely this is a big day for these players and the coaches who worked hard to bring them into their programs.

So here's a team-by-team rundown of how the 14 Big Ten program fared on National Signing Day, in order of Rivals' rankings.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Big Ten ranking: 1
National ranking: 2

It was another recruiting bonanza for Urban Meyer & Co. — and don't underestimate the value of that company, with assistant Kerry Coombs getting named Rivals' recruiter of the year — bested in the rankings by only back-to-back national title game participant Alabama. The Buckeyes landed a whopping six five-star recruits: Florida defensive back Shaun Wade, California offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, Maryland defensive lineman Chase Young, Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes, Texas linebacker Baron Browning and Texas defensive back Jeffrey Okudah. All of those guys ranked inside Rivals' top 33 prospects in the country. So in other words get used to that Ohio State defense staying good for quite some time, no matter how many guys it loses to the NFL each year. There are 11 four-star recruits to go along with those five-star guys — including Tate Martell, the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the class — and all in all 10 of the top 100 (a full 10 percent for those counting at home) picked the Buckeyes. The only thing Meyer's complaining about? There weren't enough guys from Ohio: "No, 50 percent is kind of the mark that I've been trying to — I keep it right in front of me and I stare at it and make sure that we're doing right." Meyer might not be happy about that, but he sure is doing something right.

Michigan Wolverines

Big Ten ranking: 2
National ranking: 4

Expect Jim Harbaugh to keep jumping into pools and climbing trees and riding go karts and doing all sorts of other ridiculous stuff. Because it's working. Michigan landed one of the best recruiting classes in the country, complete with 19 players rated as five- or four-star recruits by Rivals. The trio of five-star guys is headlined by Donovan Peoples-Jones, the No. 1 wide receiver and the No. 12 player in the country. He's a Detroit kid and will stay home and play for the Wolverines. So too will Florida linebacker Jordan Anthony, the No. 1 inside linebacker in the country, and Georgia defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon, the No. 2 defensive tackle in the country. Harbaugh brought in seven of the top 76 players in the class. Wide receiver is one of the most exciting positions for Michigan, with four guys rated in the top 35 wideouts in the country. After Peoples-Jones at the top, Tarik Black, Nico Collins and Oliver Martin are all top-250 recruits nationally.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Big Ten ranking: 3
National ranking: 12

The reigning Big Ten champs are in elite territory when it comes to recruiting, too. Pennsylvania defensive back Lamont Wade is the No. 1 defensive back in the country, the No. 11 recruit in the whole country, and opted to stay in state with James Franklin and the Nittany Lions. Penn State also landed 10 four-star prospects and didn't have to travel far to get the majority of them. Pennsylvania offensive lineman C.J. Thorpe is the team's only other top-100 prospect, but the four-star designation was given also to Ohio quarterback Sean Clifford, Virginia defensive lineman Yetur Matos, North Carolina linebacker Brelin Faison-Walden, Virginia defensive back Jonathan Sutherland, New Jersey defensive lineman Fred Hansard, Florida wideout Kahlee Hamler, Michigan defensive back Donovan Johnson, Virginia linebacker Ellis Brooks and Maryland defensive back Tariq Castro-Fields.

Maryland Terrapins

Big Ten ranking: 4
National ranking: 17

How about DJ Durkin running with the big dogs this year? After his first season as the head coach at Maryland, Durkin brought in an eye-popping recruiting class that features eight four-star prospects and a whopping 20 three-star guys, a number eclipsed by only two other programs in the country. Durkin's newest quarterback, Washington DC native Kasim Hill, will grab all the attention. He's the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the class and the No. 93 player in the country and picked Maryland over the likes of Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Penn State. But there's a fleet of four-star guys on the Terps' signing list, including three Marylanders in defensive back Deon Jones, running back Anthony McFarland and offensive lineman Marcus Minor. With two four-star players from Virginia, defensive lineman Breyon Gaddy and athlete Tahj Capehart, and one more from New Jersey, defensive back Markquese Bell, Durkin really locked down the geographic area surrounding his program.

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Big Ten ranking: 5
National ranking: 20

Mike Riley brought in a strong class that includes three players ranked in the top 100. The highest-rated one is Las Vegas wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey, the No. 9 wideout in the country and No. 62 player in the country. Then there's fellow top-100 players Elijah Blades, a defensive back from California, and Avery Roberts, a linebacker from Delaware. But those three aren't even half of Riley and Nebraska's four-star haul. Tristan Gebbia is one of the highest-rated quarterbacks in the class and one of the top 125 prospects in the country. And Riley welcomed in a pair of four-star wide receivers in Jaevon McQuitty, a Columbia, Mo., native stolen right out from under the ex-rival Missouri Tigers' noses, and Keyshawn Johnson Jr., whose dad is the three-time Pro Bowler and whose high school teammate is the aforementioned Gebbia.

Michigan State Spartans

Big Ten ranking: 6
National ranking: 33

Headlines Wednesday belonged to Donovan Winter, who was one of the few members of Michigan State's class who didn't sign his National Letter of Intent. He didn't because he was in jail. But Mark Dantonio had plenty of good news to share, inking a quartet of four-star recruits and stealing all four of them from enemy territory. Maine South offensive lineman Kevin Jarvis was among the highest-rated of the bunch, the No. 13 guard in the country and the fifth-best player in Illinois. And tight end Matt Dotson was the sixth-best prospect in the state of Ohio. But Spartans fans looking for bragging rights will surely focus their attention on a pair of prospects from Ann Arbor: wide receiver Hunter Rison and linebacker Antjuan Simmons, the Nos. 5 and 6 players in the state of Michigan. Add to those guys a group of 16 three-star recruits, and Michigan State reloaded again.

Wisconsin Badgers

Big Ten ranking: 7
National ranking: 35

Wisconsin is famous for the success it frequently has with Badger State-bred recruits. But Paul Chryst went elsewhere around the country to bring in the headliners of his 2017 class. While offensive lineman Kayden Lyles hails from Wisconsin — the state's top player — the other four four-star recruits on this year's signing list come from other states. Quarterback Jack Coan, a top-15 pro-style quarterback nationally, is from New York. Defensive end Andrew Van Ginkel is a grad transfer from Iowa. Running back Jonathan Taylor, a top-15 prospect at his position, is from New Jersey. And the Badgers' top recruit, wide receiver Danny Davis, is from Ohio. Davis is a top-100 recruit, a top-15 wideout in the class and the No. 3 player in his state. But he's no Buckeye. He's a Badger.

Iowa Hawkeyes

Big Ten ranking: 8
National ranking: 40

A five-star prospect heading to Iowa? It doesn't happen often, but Kirk Ferentz landed a big fish in defensive end A.J. Espensa, a defensive end from Edwardsville. The five-star recruit is the No. 30 prospect in the country and the No. 1 player at his position, not to mention the No. 1 player in Illinois. But an out-of-state program landed him. And Espensa isn't the only departure from the Hawkeyes' typically steady diet of three-star prospects. Four-star offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs is the No. 31 player at his position nationally, Iowa locking down the best player in the Hawkeye State. Ferentz went into Illinois and grabbed two more of the state's top 25 players: running back Ivory Kelly-Martin from Oswego East and defensive back Camron Harrell from Bradley-Bourbonnais.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Big Ten ranking: 9
National ranking: 43

Man what Rutgers wouldn't do to be the No. 9 team in the Big Ten standings and one of the 45 best teams in the country when it came to what happens on the field, right? Well, Chris Ash is trying to get his program there with an impressive recruiting effort this season, one that brought three four-star prospects to New Jersey. Two of them are in-state guys in wide receiver Bo Melton and offensive lineman Micah Clark, two of the top seven players in the Garden State. Dual-threat quarterback Johnathan Lewis is also a top-10 New Jersey guy, and there are two others on Ash's welcome list who were rated in the top 15 in New Jersey. The other four-star recruit hails from Maryland, linebacker Tyshon Fogg.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Big Ten ranking: 10
National ranking: 48

Given Illinois' doldrums in recruiting under Tim Beckman and, briefly, Bill Cubit, you can't help but praise Lovie Smith's efforts in his first class. Brother Rice wide receiver Ricky Smalling, the No. 6 player in Illinois and a top-50 wideout nationally, is the headline-maker in the class. Smith's other two four-star guys are high school teammates from Miami: wide receiver Carmoni Green and defensive end Owen Carney. There's consternation, though, over the lack of a National Letter of Intent from grad-transfer quarterback Dwayne Lawson, a former four-star recruit who spent a year at Virginia Tech and committed to the Illini in early December. According to a report, he's working through some academic issues, which kept him from signing Wednesday. Considering he was one of the favorites to be the team's starting quarterback in 2017, this is worth paying attention to.

Northwestern Wildcats

Big Ten ranking: 11
National ranking: 55

Finishing behind the rival Illini in these rankings is a unusual occurrence for the Wildcats under Pat Fitzgerald. Northwestern signed no players given four-star ratings by Rivals this year but have a healthy number of three-star guys, headlined by a pair of defensive ends in Earnest Brown and Trevor Kent, from Texas and Kansas, respectively. Other names of note include Ohio superback Trey Pugh, Massachusetts linebacker Blake Gallagher, Ohio offensive lineman Sam Gerak and Texas defensive end Sam Miller. Glenbard North wide receiver Jace James is the Cats' biggest get from the state of Illinois, a top-25 player in the Land of Lincoln. And there's a quarterback on the list in Cincinnati native Andrew Marty.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Big Ten ranking: 12
National ranking: 59

P.J. Fleck didn't have too much time to put together his first recruiting class at Minnesota. But he still managed to row the boat to 15 three-star recruits. Offensive lineman Blaise Andries is the No. 1 player in the state of Minnesota, but Fleck's group hails from all over. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim comes from Maryland, defensive back Adam Beck comes from Texas, wide receiver Christopher Bell comes from Illinois, tight end Jake Paulson comes from kentucky, and athlete Demetrius Douglas comes from Oregon. Expect better results after Fleck has a whole year to amass a class.

Indiana Hoosiers

Big Ten ranking: 13
National ranking: 65

Despite being buried at the bottom of the Big Ten recruiting rankings and missing out on the top six players in the Hoosier State, Indiana did beat rival Purdue when it came to landing in-state talent. The Hoosiers inked the Nos. 7, 9 and 11 players in Indiana: defensive back Bryant Fitzgerald, defensive end Britt Beery and defensive tackle LeShaun Minor. But Tom Allen's highest-rated recruit hailed from Wisconsin. Defensive tackle Juan Harris is the No. 6 player in the Badger State.

Purdue Boilermakers

Big Ten ranking: 14
National ranking: 68

Not much to get pumped about in Jeff Brohm's first recruiting class at Purdue, one that was ranked as the worst in the conference. As mentioned above, the Boilers couldn't even fare too well in the Hoosier State, picking up just one guy — offensive lineman Mark Stickford — ranked as one of the state's top 15 players. Purdue's highest-rated recruits are California quarterback Nicholas Sipe, Florida defensive back Dedrick Mackey (a good name for West Lafayette) and Mississippi defensive back T.J. Jallow.

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

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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.