V’Angelo Bentley is already one of the Big Ten’s best return man and the Illini’s top cornerback. Already a special teams stud and a defensive ace, is Bentley about to add a third phase to his game?
The Illini’s depth at running back keeps getting shallower and shallower. Wednesday, head coach Tim Beckman told reporters that freshman back Reggie Corbin suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder and will miss the entirety of the 2015 season. This after fellow freshman back Dre Brown tore his ACL during spring practice.
While Corbin might not have made an instant impact, the more interesting aspect of Wednesday’s news was that Bentley was taking snaps as a running back.
Beckman told reporters it was a precautionary thing only, but it will be interesting if the Illini turn to Bentley during the season. He’s impressed with his ability as a return man in recent seasons, and perhaps that could translate to the offensive side of the ball.
[MORE BIG TEN: Huskers lose De'Mornay Pierson-El for six to eight weeks with foot injury]
"We've seen him do it as a punt returner," Beckman said, his quotes published by Scout.com. "We've seen him do it as a (defensive back). He's got great quicks and great football knowledge, which enables him as a senior to be able to play two positions like that."
Now, Josh Ferguson is the obvious starter at running back, but the depth behind Ferguson is not what it could’ve been with these two injuries. Another true freshman, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, figures to factor heavily in the Illini’s plans at running back after he was the highest-rated recruit in their 2015 class. Junior Henry Enyenihi, who transferred in from junior college this offseason, will also be in the mix for carries behind Ferguson.
But what about Bentley?
It might be just a precaution for now, but if the Illini find themselves in emergency mode at running back this fall, maybe there will be a third phase to Bentley’s game.
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 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.