Big Ten

Cardale Jones says he's still Buckeyes' third-string QB

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Cardale Jones says he's still Buckeyes' third-string QB

Winning a national championship doesn't vault you to the top of a depth chart, at least that's what Cardale Jones thinks.

The Ohio State quarterback who stepped in for an injured J.T. Barrett — who stepped in for an injured Braxton Miller — and won three straight postseason games to lead the Buckeyes to a College Football Playoff national title told ESPN.com in a story published Wednesday that he hasn't proven anything yet when it comes to his credentials for the hotly contested starting quarterback job in Columbus.

"We as a team and me as an individual get a lot of praise for how well we did in those games, but I didn’t even grade out as a champion as far as coach’s standards," Jones told ESPN.com's Austin Ward. "I haven’t proven anything yet. I haven’t proven anything to myself, my teammates, my coaches to label myself as a starter. That’s my opinion, my personal opinion.

"I’m kind of harder on myself than the coaches, but I was thrown into that position. I didn’t beat out J.T. going into the Michigan game. I didn’t beat out Braxton. Unfortunately both guys got hurt, and luckily enough I was prepared to try to take advantage of the situation."

[MORE BIG TEN: Watch Buckeyes' Urban Meyer pump up Cavs crowd during NBA Finals]

Many would disagree with Jones' statement that he didn't prove anything. If anything, he proved a whole lot about just how good the Ohio State quarterbacks are, that he could step in on short notice and do what he did in the team's three biggest games of the season. In wins over Wisconsin (Big Ten title game), Alabama (Sugar Bowl) and Oregon (national title game), Jones threw for a combined 742 yards and five touchdowns, rushing for another 90 yards and a touchdown. He dropped jaws with mile-long touchdown passes. He popped eyes with a bruising running style as he bowled over SEC linebackers. The guy is 6-foot-5, 250 pounds after all.

But a little humility certainly isn't a bad thing, especially considering that only one guy is going to win this job and that the other two's credentials are just as good, if not better, than those of Jones. Miller is a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, a two-time finisher in the top 10 of voting for the Heisman Trophy. His record as a starter is 22-2. Barrett, though, upstaged Miller while getting his first taste of college football last season as a redshirt freshman. He broke a bunch of program and conference records — many of which previously belonged to Miller — led the Buckeyes to an 11-1 regular-season record and finished fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy.

[MORE BIG TEN: Dantonio highlights in-state recruiting struggle for Illini, Cats]

All three guys could probably start on pretty much any other team in America. This team will have just one starter. And though many think Jones should be the guy after what he did this past winter, Jones obviously thinks he still has some work to do.

"I’m working harder than ever," he told ESPN.com. "I understand that I want to be the starting quarterback of this team, but I know I have two guys in front of me who are working just as hard."

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.