Big Ten

The newest Cats: Northwestern welcomes Class of 2017 on National Signing Day

The newest Cats: Northwestern welcomes Class of 2017 on National Signing Day

Pat Fitzgerald welcomed his 2017 recruiting class on National Signing Day, announcing the 26 newest Wildcats on Wednesday.

"We're thrilled to officially welcome the newest members of our football family," Fitzgerald said in the announcement. "Every year we work hard to identify young men that fit our program and our university, academically and athletically. This is a remarkably proud day for these Wildcats and their families, most of whom have been committed to Northwestern since last summer. We can't wait to get them on campus and continue building towards a Big Ten championship."

Several touted prospects along the defensive line headline this year's class. Defensive ends Earnest Brown IV and Trevor Kent and defensive tackle Sam Miller all earned four-star ratings from various recruiting services, as did another defender in safety Austin Hiller.

Rivals wasn't quite as high on those prospects or any the Cats welcomed in Wednesday, assigning no rating higher than three stars. That site ranked Fitzgerald's 2017 class 12th in the Big Ten and 51st nationally.

Brown was ranked by Rivals as the No. 31 player at his position and the 60th-best player in Texas, no small feat. Kent was the No. 15 player at his position and the No. 1 player in Kansas. Miller was the No. 31 player at his position and another top-100 recruit in the Lone Star State.

This year's class included five players from the state of Illinois: scholarship athletes Glenbard North wide receiver Jace James and Lakes Community cornerback Cameron Ruiz; kicker/punter Luke Otto, a Normal native and graduate transfer from Western Illinois; and preferred walk-ons Wheaton North linebacker Erik Mueller and Montini Catholic defensive tackle Joe Spivak.

Additionally, the Cats brought in five players each from Texas and Ohio.

More defensive players from this year's class include Georgia linebacker Chee Anyanwu, Massachusetts linebacker Blake Gallagher, Texas safety Bryce Jackson, Ohio linebacker Peter McIntyre and Georgia safety J.R. Pace.

Offensive players who will join the Cats include Ohio offensive lineman Sam Gerak, California wide receiver Berkeley Holman, Ohio quarterback Andrew Marty, Georgia wide receiver Kyric McGowan, Ohio superback Trey Pugh, Texas offensive lineman Rashawn Slater and New York offensive lineman Ethan Wiederkehr.

Plus Fitzgerald added a scholarship kicker/punter in Charlie Kuhbander of Ohio.

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.