Big Ten

Northwestern announces 2016 recruiting class

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Northwestern announces 2016 recruiting class

The next batch of Cats is officially all signed up.

Northwestern announced its 2016 recruiting class Wednesday morning, welcoming 20 signees.

"Every year, this is an exciting day for the future of our football family but more importantly a transformational day for these young men and their families," head coach Pat Fitzgerald said in the announcement. "Each will contribute to our pursuit of a Big Ten championship on the field and earn the best education in college football. Our staff has had the opportunity to get to know each recruit extensively over the last several years, and we look forward to welcoming them to Evanston this summer."

[MORE BIG TEN: Report: Illini wrapping up interviews with seven candidates for AD job]

The class is headlined by its lone four-star recruit, per Rivals' rankings: defensive back Roderick Campbell. The St. Louis native committed to Fitzgerald 10 months ago and was ranked as one of the top 250 players in the country. He's one of the top-20 defensive backs in the Class of 2016 and the No. 3 player in the state of Missouri. Campbell picked Northwestern over offers from Arizona State, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisville, Maryland, Notre Dame, Purdue and Vanderbilt.

The one quarterback in this year's class is Aidan Smith, a native of Fort Wayne, Ind. He's ranked as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in this class and the No. 5 player in the state of Ohio.

This year's class is almost halfway made up of players from Ohio, with eight coming from the Buckeye State. The top-ranked Ohio natives are running back Jeremy Larkin from Cincinnati, defensive end Tommy Carnifax from Warren and offensive linemen Gunnar Vogel from Westerville and Nik Urban from Willoughby.

The Cats did sign a pair of players from inside the Land of Lincoln, making a splash with Libertyville's Riley Lees, who was one of the top quarterbacks in the state this past season but who will play wide receiver at Northwestern. Fitzgerald also welcomes in Eric Eshoo, a Loyola Academy product who will play superback.

In addition to those two pass-catchers, there are more additions who could help out a passing game that struggled last season: wide receivers Bennett Skowronek (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman (Minneapolis).

[SHOP BIG TEN: Get your Northwestern gear right here]

Here's the complete list of Northwestern's 20 Class of 2016 signees, plus two players who will join the program as walk-ons:

— Jesse Brown, RB, Lilburn, Ga.
— Brian Bullock, DB, Round Rock, Texas
— Roderick Campbell, DB, St. Louis, Mo.
— Tommy Carnifax, DE, Warren, Ohio
— Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman, Minneapolis, Minn.
— Eric Eshoo, SB, Chicago, Ill.
— Paddy Fisher, LB, Katy, Texas
— Tyler Gillikin, LS, Atlanta, Ga.
— Jango Glackin, LB, Lebanon, Ohio
— Mark Gooden, LB, Reynoldsburg, Ohio
— Cam Kolwich, OL, Beverly Hills, Mich.
— Jeremy Larkin, RB, Cincinnati, Ohio
— Riley Lees, WR, Libertyville, Ill.
— Jesse Meyler, OL, Toronto, Ontario
— Alex Miller, DL, Houston, Texas
— Parker Oliver, WR, Dallas, Texas
— Jake Saunders, DT, Loveland, Ohio
— Bennett Skowronek, WR, Fort Wayne, Ind.
— Aidan Smith, QB, Fort Wayne, Ind.
— Travis Whillock, DB, Katy, Texas
— Nik Urban, OL, Willoughby, Ohio
— Gunnar Vogel, OL, Columbus, 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.