Big Ten

Ohio State QB Braxton Miller switching to wide receiver

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Ohio State QB Braxton Miller switching to wide receiver

One of the three quarterbacks set to compete for the Ohio State starting quarterback job has dropped out of that competition.

Braxton Miller is switching positions from quarterback to wide receiver, according to a story posted by Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel on Thursday night. It turns the offseason's most anticipated position battle into a two-man fight between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones.

Miller told Thamel that his ongoing recovery from the shoulder injury that knocked him out of the 2014 season will prevent him from being completely healthy as a quarterback and that he'll start the 2015 campaign as an H-back, as well as return punts.

“For the most part, it’s going to be H-Back and punt return,” Miller told Thamel. “It’s a long process to get back totally to throwing and throwing every day. This is the smarter thing for right now, God blessed me with a lot of talent and different opportunities. I’m going to have fun with that and still score a lot of touchdowns and help the team out and be dominant at that.”

Miller told Thamel that he's been preparing as a wideout for months but asked head coach Urban Meyer not to tell anyone and that only five of his teammates knew about the switch.

Miller was the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year as a quarterback during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, when he led the Buckeyes to a 24-2 record in Meyer's first two seasons as head coach in Columbus. Miller threw for a combined 4,133 yards and 39 touchdowns and rushed for an additional 2,339 yards and 25 touchdowns in those two seasons, twice finishing in the top 10 in voting for the Heisman Trophy. He injured his throwing shoulder in Ohio State's loss to Clemson in the 2014 Orange Bowl, requiring offseason surgery. He was ready to begin last season until he injured the same shoulder just days before the first game.

[MORE BIG TEN: Joey Bosa's brother, five-star recruit Nick Bosa, announces commitment to Ohio State]

Barrett took over for Miller, leading the Buckeyes to an 11-1 regular-season record and breaking all sorts of program and conference records along the way, finishing fifth in Heisman voting. But Barrett suffered an ankle injury in the regular-season finale against Michigan, yielding to Jones, who was outstanding in leading the Buckeyes to three postseason wins en route to the program's eighth national championship.

Transfer speculation surrounded Miller all season long, and it wasn't until fairly recently that he officially declared his intentions of remaining a Buckeye. But he won't be participating in the competition for the starting quarterback job after making known his intention to switch positions Thursday.

Ohio State frequently uses the H-back position in its offense, with Jalin Marshall having plenty of success from that spot on the field last season. It could mean that Miller will remain an integral part of the Buckeyes' offensive plans, even though he's not under center. Miller could also be used as a trick-play quarterback given his skills. Meyer showed he's not shy about doing something like that, as a receiver's pass went for a touchdown in the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama.

The move will obviously alter Miller's future, as many believed he could be a potential NFL Draft pick as a quarterback, not a crazy thought after two incredibly successful seasons at that position. He'll have to prove himself as an all-around athlete — something that doesn't figure to be too difficult considering the athleticism he showed in 2012 and 2013 — to make a splash as an NFL pass-catcher.

 

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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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.