Big Ten

Michigan, Ohio State each land two linebackers on Butkus Award watch list

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Michigan, Ohio State each land two linebackers on Butkus Award watch list

The folks at the Butkus Award expect there to be some pretty good linebacking in the Big Ten this season, which is no surprise considering the award's namesake is a Big Ten product.

The Butkus Award, handed out each season to the country's top linebacker, released its preseason watch list Tuesday. Eight Big Ten players made the list, though two teams stood out from the pack, as Michigan and Ohio State each placed two names on the list.

Wolverines Joe Bolden and James Ross both played in the shadow of fourth-round draft pick Jake Ryan last season, but this year they'll get a chance to dominate the spotlight. Bolden started all 12 games last season and trailed only Ryan with 102 tackles, also picking up a pair of sacks. Ross played in all 12 games, starting seven, and recorded 32 tackles.

[MORE BIG TEN: Carli Lloyd and Todd Frazier have turned Rutgers into America's team]

The Buckeyes have multiple names on every watch list, it seems, as they boast a loaded roster in defense of their national championship. Raekwon McMillan and Joshua Perry were tabbed as ones to watch Tuesday, with the Butkus Award people surprisingly omitting Sugar Bowl Defensive MVP Darron Lee. But McMillan and Perry played very well last season. Perry was the team leader in tackles with 124, and he added 8.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. McMillan recorded 54 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and an interception. Lee not being included was kind of a shock considering his 81 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and two interceptions during the national championship season.

Interestingly, McMillan won the high school version of the award just two years ago.

Other Big Ten names on the list include Illinois' Mason Monheim, Maryland’s Yannick Ngakoue, Michigan State’s Darien Harris and Minnesota’s De’Vondre Campbell.

Eight Big Ten players have won the award in its history, as have two from pre-Big Ten Era Nebraska and Maryland. Most recently, Ohio State's James Laurinaitis took it home in 2007.

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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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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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.