Big Ten

Buckeyes' QB depth a question after Stephen Collier tears ACL

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Buckeyes' QB depth a question after Stephen Collier tears ACL

Last year, Urban Meyer had quite an enviable quarterback conundrum on his hands. He had three talented, experienced options at quarterback, any one of which seemed capable of leading Ohio State to national-championship contention.

This year? Well, let's just say there's a much, much smaller margin for error — and it just got smaller.

J.T. Barrett will undoubtedly be the starter this season, something Meyer didn't settle on until the middle of last season. But behind Barrett things just got much trickier, as backup Stephen Collier will reportedly miss the upcoming season after tearing his ACL.

Meyer's plethora of options is gone, as both Cardale Jones and Braxton Miller have moved on to the NFL. Barrett, meanwhile, looks capable of being one of the best quarterbacks in college football, as he was two seasons ago, when he finished fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy. And with a full season at his disposal — Meyer waffled between Jones and Barrett for much of last season — the redshirt junior appears primed for a massive campaign.

But he'll have to stay on the field or the Buckeyes' hopes might be doomed.

Two years ago, Barrett played a remarkable regular season but suffered an ankle injury in the season finale, requiring Jones to come in and surprisingly lead the march to a national championship in three postseason starts. Last year, Jones started several games before Meyer tabbed Barrett, but Barrett still missed a game after being named starter due to suspension.

Backup quarterbacks have proven especially valuable to the Buckeyes in the past three seasons under Meyer. Last year there was the safety net of Barrett when Jones struggled. The year before, both Barrett and Jones impressed when thrust into starting duty because of injuries to Miller and Barrett, respectively. And the year prior, Kenny Guiton was sensational in limited action as Miller's backup, throwing 14 touchdown passes.

Collier was expected to battle redshirt freshman Joe Burrow for the gig backing up Barrett, but he's obviously out of the mix now, leaving Burrow as the only other scholarship player on the quarterback depth chart behind Barrett. Four-star quarterback recruit Dwayne Haskins will join the team as an incoming freshman this summer. And perhaps redshirt freshman Torrance Gibson could move back to quarterback. Gibson was a five-star quarterback recruit last year before the log jam at the position forced a move to wide receiver. But he's still listed as a "quarterback/wide receiver" on Ohio State's roster, so a switch back could be possible.

None of those guys have played a down of college football before, but Burrow and Gibson both have the same level of experience and redshirt-freshman designation that Barrett had when he took over for Miller and led the Buckeyes during the 2014 title-winning season.

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.