Big Ten

Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley declares for NFL Draft


Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley declares for NFL Draft

For the second day in a row, a member of Ohio State's exceptional secondary declared for the NFL Draft.

Monday it was safety Malik Hooker. Tuesday it was Gareon Conley, one of the Buckeyes' captains this season, opting to forgo his final season of NCAA eligibility.

He announced his intentions in a message posted to Instagram.

"Man it’s been a wonderful journey from recruiting to playing in the Shoe," Conley wrote. "I feel like the past four years have really expanded and opened my mind and made me grow as a student and athlete and a man. It’s been an honor to play as a Buckeye and a Silver Bullet and also to be a part of the great secondary this past year.

"I want to thank everyone from family to friends to Buckeye Nation for all the love and support. It’s a tremendous blessing to have played for y’all. Most importantly I want to thank all my teammates who I was in the trenches with and through thick and thin. I love y’all boys, and y’all my brothers for life. Once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye.

"I have decided to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft."

Conley ranked second behind Hooker on the team with four interceptions this season and was part of arguably the finest secondary in the country. Conley capped a stellar redshirt junior campaign with an interception of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in Ohio State's loss in the Fiesta Bowl.

Like his teammate Hooker, Conley is expected to be selected in the early rounds of the NFL Draft and perhaps even to be first-round pick.

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.