Big Ten

Northwestern's Austin Carr named one of three finalists for Biletnikoff Award

Northwestern's Austin Carr named one of three finalists for Biletnikoff Award

Austin Carr has been the Big Ten's top receiver pretty much all season long. And he could go down as the best receiver in the country this season.

Monday, the Northwestern senior was named one of three finalists for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, handed out annually to college football's outstanding receiver regardless of position.

Carr is the Big Ten leader in three major pass-catching categories with 80 receptions, 1,170 receiving yards and 12 touchdown catches. Barring some sort of gargantuan performance by another conference receiver in the regular season's final week, he'll finish as the leader in those three categories — he'd be just the third Big Ten wideout since 1990 to do that, joining Michigan's Desmond Howard and Penn State's Allen Robinson — and should be the obvious selection for the Big Ten Wide Receiver of the Year award.

The other two names on the list of Biletnikoff finalists were Oklahoma's Dede Westbrook and East Carolina's Zay Jones. Jones and Westbrook rank first and second in the country in receiving yardage with 1,685 yards and 1,354 yards, respectively. Carr ranks 10th nationally. Westbrook's 15 touchdown catches trail only two other receivers in the country. Carr is tied for sixth with his 12, and Jones has eight (tied for 34th). Jones, though, has the most catches in college football with 151. Carr also ranks in the top 10 with his 80, while Westbrook has 70.

Aside from those credentials, though, Carr's resume for such a high honor is stellar. He's put up six 100-yard games and three multi-touchdown games. He already has the school record for the most touchdown catches in a single season and ranks third on the program's single-season list in receiving yardage and receptions. Plus, he's the only receiver in the country with at least five catches and at least 68 receiving yards in every game.

Whether Carr can add to all those statistics is up in the air at the moment. He left last weekend's loss at Minnesota after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit. Monday, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said Carr is day-to-day and feeling good, but the official word on whether Carr will play in Saturday's regular-season finale against Illinois.

If Carr were to win the Biletnikoff Award, he'd be the first Wildcat to do so. The award, handed out every year since 1994, has only gone to a Big Ten receiver four times: Penn State's Bobby Engram (1994), Ohio State's Terry Glenn (1995), Michigan State's Charles Rogers (2002) and Michigan's Braylon Edwards (2004). It's been 12 years since the last win by a Big Ten wideout, a streak Carr could stop this year.

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.