Big Ten

Illini greats Rice, Howard, Gardner among B1G'ers on HOF ballot

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Illini greats Rice, Howard, Gardner among B1G'ers on HOF ballot

Illinois defensive greats Simeon Rice, Dana Howard and Moe Gardner are among a large group of former Big Ten players on this year's ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame.

All in all, 24 players and one coach who used to represent Big Ten schools were on the list of 200 candidates up for election for induction into the Hall of Fame.

The Illini saw three of their all-time best defenders land on the list.

Rice is Illinois' all-time leader in sacks (44.5) and tackles for loss (69) and owns the program's single-season records for sacks (16) and tackles for loss (23). Rice, a Chicago native and Mount Carmel product, recorded a whopping five sacks in one game back in the Illini's game against Washington State in 1994. He was twice named a First Team All-American. Rice was the third-overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft and spent 13 seasons in the NFL with the Cardinals, Buccaneers, Broncos and Colts. He was a three-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All-Pro and won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Buccaneers.

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Howard, meanwhile, is Illinois' all-time leading tackler with 595 tackles. He has the two best tackling games in program history, making 20 against Ohio State and 16 against Michigan both during the 1991 season. Howard, a native of East St. Louis, led the Illini in tackles in all four seasons of his career. He was twice named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and won the Butkus Award in 1994. Howard played for the Rams and the Bears during a three-year NFL career.

Gardner ranks second to Rice in Illinois history in all-time tackles for loss with 57 of them, and he ranks in the top 10 in career sacks, single-season sacks and single-season tackles for loss, as well. He was the 1990 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time First Team All-American. He spent six seasons in the NFL with the Falcons.

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Here's a look at the rest of the Big Ten names up for election on this year's ballot:

— Morten Andersen, K, Michigan State
— Erick Anderson, LB, Michigan
— Larry Burton, WR, Purdue
— Keith Byars, RB, Ohio State
— Kerry Collins, QB, Penn State
— Tom Cousineau, LB, Ohio State
— Eric Crouch, QB, Nebraska
— Tim Dwight, KR, Iowa
— Jumbo Elliott, OT, Michigan
— Kirk Gibson, WR, Michigan State
— Tim Krumrie, DT, Wisconsin
— Mark Messner, DT, Michigan
— Jim Otis, FB, Ohio State
— Antwaan Randle El, QB, Indiana
— Bob Stein, DE, Minnesota
— Taylor Stubblefield, WR, Purdue
— Andre Tippett, DE, Iowa
— Lorenzo White, RB, Michigan State
— Zach Wiegert, OT, Nebraska
— Steve Wisniewski, OG, Penn State
— Rod Woodson, DB, Purdue
— Darryl Rogers, head coach, Michigan State

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.