Big Ten

Illini's V'Angelo Bentley, six more B1G'ers on Hornung Award watch list

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Illini's V'Angelo Bentley, six more B1G'ers on Hornung Award watch list

It's that time of year.

The college football award watch lists are about to start coming fast and furious, and the Paul Hornung Award — which annually honors the "most versatile" player in college football — kicked off those festivities on Monday.

Illinois landed a name on the list in V'Angelo Bentley, the defensive back/return man who recorded 46 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, an interception and two forced fumbles as well as 692 kick-return yards and 123 punt-return yards. Those 815 total return yards were the 15th most in the FBS last season.

Bentley is the only Illini ever to score a touchdown on a kickoff return, a punt return, an interception return and a fumble return.

Bentley was on the watch list last season, as well.

[MORE BIG TEN: Ex-Illini women's basketball players sue, alleging racial hostility]

Joining Bentley on the 44-player watch list are six more Big Ten players: Rutgers' Janarion Grant, Maryland's William Likely, Ohio State's Jalin Marshall, Nebraska's De'Mornay Pierson-El, Michigan State's R.J. Shelton and Ohio State's Dontre Wilson.

Pierson-El led the Big Ten in punt-return yardage last season, with 596 yards and an average of 17.5 yards per return. Marshall and Likely ranked second and third, respectively.

Likely was the conference's leader in kick-return average, averaging 31 yards per return. Shelton, Grant and Bentley all ranked in the top 10 in kick-return average, as well. Grant had the most kick-return yards in the league, with 910.

The Paul Hornung Award has been given out annually since 2010. In the five years the award has been handed out, no Big Ten player has won.

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.