Big Ten

Illini add former Cal linebacker Hardy Nickerson, son of new DC

Illini add former Cal linebacker Hardy Nickerson, son of new DC

Illinois' hiring of Hardy Nickerson is already paying big recruiting dividends in the form of Hardy Nickerson.

The son of the Illini's new defensive coordinator, who has the same name as his father, announced Thursday that he will come to Champaign as a graduate transfer.

A linebacker, the younger Nickerson spent the past four years with the California Golden Bears and was one of the team's best defensive players a season ago, leading Cal with 112 total tackles.

"After much thought, prayer and numerous discussions with my parents, I have decided to graduate from Cal and pursue a post-graduate degree at the University of Illinois in the fall," the younger Nickerson announced on his Twitter account. "A most unique opportunity presented itself when my father joined the Illinois football staff as their new defensive coordinator just last month. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play my final year of college football for my father and head coach Lovie Smith, and it is an opportunity that I simply cannot pass up."

In 35 career games with the Bears, Nickerson recorded 246 tackles, nine tackles for loss, one interception, two forced fumbles and a trio of fumble recoveries. He racked up double-digit tackles in each of Cal's last eight games last season. Nickerson was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention last year.

A graduate transfer, Nickerson will be immediately eligible to play at Illinois.

It's a huge addition for the Illini, who need to replace all three starting linebackers from a season ago.

The elder Nickerson had a terrific career as an NFL linebacker, making five Pro Bowls with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He worked as a Smith assistant for three seasons with the Bears and Buccaneers before joining Smith at Illinois this spring.

"It's a unique and exciting situation for the Nickerson family," Smith said in Illinois' announcement Thursday. "Hardy is a tremendous leader, and his outstanding work ethic will help the young players on our team. I'm very happy that he will get the chance to play for coach Nickerson in his final season as a college player."

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.

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.