Big Ten

Northwestern boasts two of eight Big Ten players on Walter Camp watch list


Northwestern boasts two of eight Big Ten players on Walter Camp watch list

The Walter Camp Player of the Year award preseason watch list has only 40 names on it, just eight hailing from Big Ten teams.

Two are Northwestern Wildcats.

Linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. and running back Justin Jackson both landed on the list, which was released Friday. The Walter Camp Player of the Year award annually honors the nation's top collegiate player.

Walker put up some of the best numbers of any linebacker in the country last season, leading the Cats with 122 tackles and leading the Big Ten with 20.5 tackles for loss, the latter number the fourth-best mark in college football. Jackson, meanwhile, built on an impressive freshman season by rushing for 1,418 yards as a sophomore, a total ranking second in the Big Ten behind only Ohio State star and top-five NFL Draft pick Ezekiel Elliott. Jackson is the conference's leading returning rusher and was the only Big Ten running back on the list.

Walker earned All-Big Ten First Team honors last season, and Jackson earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors.

Three other Big Ten teams each landed a pair of players on the Walter Camp list.

Ohio State boasts quarterback J.T. Barrett and linebacker Raekwon McMillan. McMillan ranked fourth in the conference in tackles and earned All-Big Ten First Team honors. Barrett scored 20 total touchdowns over the Buckeyes' final eight games after finishing in the top five in Heisman Trophy voting in 2014.

Michigan sent its dynamic defensive-back duo of Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers. Last season the two combined for 97 tackles, nine tackles for loss, two interceptions, one sack, 601 kick-return yards, 194 punt-return yards and a touchdown. Both players earned All-Big Ten First Team honors, and Peppers was named the conference's Freshman of the Year.

Iowa's representatives were quarterback C.J. Beathard and defensive back Desmond King. King is the reigning Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year and an All-Big Ten First Team honoree after he led the Big Ten and ranked second in the country with eight interceptions. He also ranked third in the league and fifth nationally with 21 passes defended. Beathard was an All-Big Ten Second Team pick after throwing for 2,809 yards and leading the Hawkeyes to an undefeated regular season.

The last winner of the Walter Camp Player of the Year award from a Big Ten school was Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith in 2006. Other winners from current Big Ten schools include Penn State running back Larry Johnson (2002), Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch (2001), Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne (1999), Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson (1997), Ohio State running back Eddie George (1995), Michigan wide receiver Desmond Howard (1991), Indiana running back Anthony Thompson (1989), Nebraska running back Mike Rozier (1983), Ohio State running back Archie Griffin (1974 and 1975), Penn State running back John Cappelletti (1973) and Nebraska running back Johnny Rodgers (1972).

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


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


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.