Big Ten

Huskers' Randy Gregory out to prove doubters wrong after NFL Draft fall


Huskers' Randy Gregory out to prove doubters wrong after NFL Draft fall

Sometimes not being picked early in the NFL Draft can be just as much of a headline — if not a bigger one — than going No. 1 overall.

Such was the case for Nebraska's Randy Gregory this weekend.

Within the past few months, the Huskers defensive end went from a potential top-five pick to what he ended up being: a late-second-round selection of the Dallas Cowboys on Day 2 of the draft Friday night in Chicago.

Gregory was the last one left in the green room when the Cowboys took him with the No. 60 pick, the final player to get to pose with commissioner Roger Goodell.

[MORE BIG TEN: 2015 could be final year of Big Ten's first-round QB drought]

But Gregory's case wasn't as simple as a guy who teams thought wasn't worthy of their top pick. Gregory was one of several draft prospects who ran into troubles involving marijuana use, including failing a drug test at the Combine.

Gregory owned up to what he called a "real dumb mistake" after finally getting his name called, saying that he knew it would affect his draft stock. He said he's ready to get to work and put this "embarrassing" incident behind him.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit (bitter about getting picked so late). Obviously, everyone wants to be picked high, but at the same time, I understood why I wasn't picked high. I know I put myself in that position," Gregory said. "The main goal is to make plays anyways. So I'm going to carry myself with a chip on my shoulder, and the Dallas Cowboys are going to do the same. That's why they've had that success is that mentality. I think that's why everyone looks at them that way. I think that's why they've had the tradition they've had. That's why us together we can do some big things."

[MORE BIG TEN: Three Big Ten players picked in NFL Draft's first round]

But for all the honesty Gregory displayed in discussing his mistake and the thankfulness he showed for being selected by any team at any spot in the draft, the case is still a curious one.

As mentioned, other prospects had similar issues. Another defensive end, Shane Ray, was also caught using marijuana. That was also among the lengthy list of troubles of wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. The Broncos traded up to get Ray in the first round. Green-Beckham went ahead of Gregory in the second round.

So why was Gregory continually passed up?

An report last week pointed to a strange concern many coaches and scouts had with Gregory leading up to the draft, though no one definitively stated what that was. One NFL general manager was quoted in that report saying, "There are more negatives than positives."

From's Ian Rapoport and Albert Breer:

At least three general managers view him as a top-five talent. But according to more than a dozen coaches, scouts, personnel chiefs and GMs, there is concern about Gregory's ability to handle the mental rigors of professional football. And just how far he drops in this week's draft will likely hinge on the individual psychological profiles (and the results of related testing) put together by each team, according to multiple veteran evaluators. He has been taken off a several team's draft boards, according to multiple sources.

[MORE BIG TEN: Buckeyes' Cardale Jones pranks Twitter with fake transfer to Akron]

Gregory seemed to allude to whatever this issue is after he was selected Friday, though he, too, refused to go into details, saying only that the Cowboys seemed to be OK with things.

"My situation's a little unique. I can't go into details," Gregory said. "I sat down with Jerry Jones, we had a heart-to-heart, talked for about 40 minutes, and I think we were on the same page. I met with coach (Jason) Garrett and coach (Rod) Marinelli, and I think we've got a good idea of what we need to do. They have a great support system there. Obviously they've had guys in the past that they worked with, and that's one of the big things that we probably looked at. It's probably the best spot for me in this draft, it really is."

We might never find out whether this was just a kid making the same mistake that a ton of kids make or something more. But the Cowboys seemed satisfied enough to make Gregory their second-round draft pick. Now it's up to Gregory to not only make them proud on the field but off it, as well.

"There's a lot of tradition with this organization, and I don't want to be the one to bring bad light on that. And I won't be," Gregory said. "That's one of the things I gave my word to them when they called me when they were about to make the pick. I promised them that I was going to work my ass off to make plays on the field and I was going to work my ass off so they don't have to worry about me off the field.

"(I'm) somebody that's going to prove a lot of people wrong, basically 31 other teams wrong and a lot of other people that are looking at me and doubting me. Us and the Cowboys, we're going to prove those doubters wrong, we really are."

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.

See how they stack up: Week 12 college football top 25 rankings


See how they stack up: Week 12 college football top 25 rankings

With Week 12 in the books, here’s my top 25:

1. Oklahoma (10-1)

Still the team with the best resume in the country, no one can compete with OU’s wins over TCU, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, the latter two coming away from Norman. Baker Mayfield might not be a choir boy, but he’s the best player in the nation.

2. Miami (10-0)

You might think that being down 28-14 to Virginia in the second half was cringe-worthy, but the Canes made up for things by storming back with 30 unanswered points. Now they finally have to go away from South Florida for the first time since almost losing to North Carolina last month.

3. Alabama (11-0)

Tide gonna roll. But this Cupcake Weekend in the SEC has got to stop. While teams in other conferences are slugging it out against rivals, Bama gets to take a day off against Mercer? It’s just not fair. Also, Bama’s schedule is so soft, there’s no way it deserves to be the No. 1 team in the country.

4. Georgia (10-1)

The Dawgs should wrap an 11-1 regular season this weekend against Georgia Tech. But the SEC title game presents a kind of no-win scenario: undefeated Alabama or Auburn, who throttled Georgia earlier this month.

5. Wisconsin (11-0)

You didn’t need Wisconsin to do what it did to Iowa and Michigan to prove it had one of the best defenses in the country — but that sure didn’t help. Stockpiling national love with those two wins, a win in the Big Ten title game figures to make the Badgers a Playoff lock.

6. Clemson (10-1)

Why’d Kelly Bryant have to go and get hurt for that Syracuse game? The Tigers would be No. 1 and the undisputed best team in the country. Still, though, a win over Miami in the ACC title game ought to get the champs back into the Playoff.

7. Auburn (9-2)

Great job pounding Louisiana-Monroe, Tigers. You shall not escape the wrath over Cupcake Weekend in the SEC. That dumb game aside, Auburn and Alabama will meet in a titanic Iron Bowl this weekend with a trip to the SEC title game on the line — and perhaps a Playoff spot, as well.

8. Ohio State (9-2)

Not that pummeling Illinois is any big deal, but the Buckeyes are still alive in this thing and look like a team capable of making some Playoff noise. First, Ohio State has to win The Game and then the Big Ten title game to knock out undefeated Wisconsin.

9. Notre Dame (9-2)

Out of the Playoff chase thanks to that loss at Miami, Notre Dame squeaked by Navy this past weekend. Hope a New Year’s Six bowl game is enough for the Irish. We know it’s not enough for those ND fans. So maybe join a conference? Just saying.

10. TCU (9-2)

The Frogs can still make their mark on the Playoff race, even if they can’t get in themselves. The Big 12 title game will almost surely be TCU’s attempt at revenge on Oklahoma. Unfortunately, if revenge does come, it will probably cannibalize the conference’s Playoff hopes, too.

11. Penn State (9-2)

Why Penn State gave up 44 points to Nebraska, I do not know. What I do know is that probably no one cared because Penn State is going to go down as the most inconsequential 10-2 team of all-time. Such a bummer considering the preseason expectations for both the team and Saquon Barkley.

12. USC (10-2)

Yeah, I guess there’s still a way for USC to make the Playoff, but it’s hard to imagine that madness unfolding, even in the oft-mad college football. The Trojans get the winner of the Apple Cup in the Pac-12 title game.

13. UCF (10-0)

Finally we get our much-anticipated UCF-USF showdown this weekend. Make it count, Knights. This is probably gonna be Scott Frost’s last regular-season game in Orlando.

14. Washington (9-2)

It’s hard to say who has the edge in the Apple Cup, but certainly the stakes are high, with the winner going off to play USC in the Pac-12 title game. Can either team make the Playoff? Well, probably not, no.

15. Washington State (9-2)

Is this it for Mike Leach on The Palouse? He could be a hot candidate this offseason and leave for perceived greener pastures. Winning the Apple Cup would go a long way toward making that happen.

16. Mississippi State (8-3)

A win in the Egg Bowl means a 9-3 regular season for the Bulldogs with their three losses coming against three top-10 teams.

17. Oklahoma State (8-3)

Poor Okie State has been so good all year and had two losses to the two best teams in its conference, and then it went and lost to K-State for some ridiculous reason. The Mullet deserved better in 2017.

18. Northwestern (8-3)

The Cats are the fourth-best team in the Big Ten, simple as that, with wins over Michigan State and Iowa and conference losses to Wisconsin and Penn State. As commendable an effort as you’ll find in a highly competitive league. Plus, Fitz’s team is on a six-game win streak that could end up extending to eight.

19. Stanford (8-3)

Already with a win over Washington, Stanford could close the regular season with two wins over top-10 teams in its final three games. Also Bryce Love is back in the groove after back-to-back 100-yard games.

20. Memphis (9-1)

The Tigers have lost just one game all season, to the best Group of Five team out there. Heck of a season by Memphis.

21. Michigan State (8-3)

A 17-7 win over Maryland couldn't have been the most exciting way for anyone to spend their weekend. Sparty's had a mighty fine season, though, considering how badly things went in 2016.

22. LSU (8-3)

The SEC has seemingly gotten increasingly better as the year has progressed, with LSU and Mississippi State making for a solid-enough middle tier. But remember when LSU lost to Troy? That wasn’t good.

23. South Florida (9-1)

If not for that loss to Houston, USF’s showdown with UCF this weekend would be for Group of Five supremacy. Even without that, though, this should be a highly entertaining affair.

24. Virginia Tech (8-3)

The Hokies have a chance to salvage their tumble at the close of the season with a win at Virginia. But given how well the Cavs played at Miami this past weekend, a VT win is no sure thing.

25. Iowa State (7-4)

I understand the math and all, but can't the Big 12 just suspend its rules and send Iowa State to the title game? We all want to see the OU-ISU rematch. Why are you preventing us from being happy, Big 12?