Big Ten

Penn State's Carl Nassib named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year

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Penn State's Carl Nassib named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year

For the third time in seven seasons, a Penn State Nittany Lion is the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Carl Nassib took home the honor Monday night, when the conference announce its defensive and special teams award winners and defensive members of the All-Big Ten First Team.

He joined Devon Still and Jared Odrick as Penn State defensive linemen to win the award in the past seven years. Nassib is the sixth Penn State player to win the award since it was first handed out in 1990. The other three were LaVar Arrington, Courtney Brown and Michael Haynes.

Nassib, a former walk-on, leads the country with 15.5 sacks. He’s among the league leaders in tackles for loss with 20.5, he’s forced a conference-leading six fumbles. He recorded 47 total tackles this season, also coming down with an interception.

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The conference announced its other defensive and special teams award winners, too, on Monday.

Maryland's Will Likely was named the Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year. Likely had a pair of punt-return touchdowns and a kick-return touchdown this season, also leading the league in punt-return average with 17.7 yards per return. Likely set a Big Ten record with 233 punt-return yards in one game early this season. He ranked fifth in the Big Ten in all-purpose yardage.

Strangely, Nassib wasn't the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, as that honor went to Ohio State's Joey Bosa. Bosa ranked fourth in the conference with 16 tackles for loss and ranked 18th in the league with five sacks. He had 47 tackles and one interception.

Wisconsin's Joe Schobert was named the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year. Schobert finished with 76 tackles, ranking third in the Big Ten in sacks with 9.5 and third in the conference in tackles for loss with 18.5. He forced five fumbles and grabbed an interception.

Iowa's Desmond King was named the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year. No player in the country had more interceptions that King's eight. He also ranked fourth in the Big Ten with 19 passes defended.

Indiana's Griffin Oakes was named the Big Ten Kicker of the Year, and Nebraska's Sam Foltz was named the Big Ten Punter of the Year.

Michigan's Jabrill Peppers was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, doing it all on three different sides of the ball. Peppers had 45 tackles, 10 passes defended and 5.5 tackles for loss. He totaled 417 return yards as a punt- and kick-returner. And he had 18 carries for 72 yards and two touchdowns, as well as eight receptions for 79 yards.

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The defensive and special teams selections for All-Big Ten honors were also announced.

All-Big Ten First Team:

DL: Joey Bosa, Ohio State
DL: Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
DL: Carl Nassib, Penn State
DL: Yannick Ngakoue, Maryland
LB: Joe Schobert, Wisconsin
LB: Anthony Walker, Northwestern
LB: Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State (media)
LB: Joshua Perry, Ohio State (coaches)
DB: Desmond King, Iowa
DB: Jourdan Lewis, Michigan
DB: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
DB: Vonn Bell, Ohio State (media)
DB: Will Likely, Maryland (coaches)
K: Griffin Oakes, Indiana
P: Sam Foltz, Nebraska
RS: Will Likely, Maryland

All-Big Ten Second Team:

DL: Malik McDowell, Michigan State
DL: Dean Lowry, Northwestern
DL: Adolphus Washington, Ohio State
DL: Maliek Collins, Nebraska (coaches)
DL: Austin Johnson, Penn State (media)
LB: Josey Jewell, Iowa
LB: Darron Lee, Ohio State
LB: Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State (coaches)
LB: Riley Bullough, Michigan State (media)
LB: Joshua Perry, Ohio State (media)
DB: Nick VanHoose, Northwestern
DB: Michael Caputo, Wisconsin
DB: Eli Apple, Ohio State (coaches)
DB: Vonn Bell, Ohio State (coaches)
DB: Clayton Fejedelem, Illinois (media)
DB: Will Likely, Maryland (media)
K: Marshall Koehn, Iowa (coaches)
K: Drew Brown, Nebraska (media)
P: Cameron Johnston, Ohio State
RS: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan (coaches)
RS: Janarion Grant, Rutgers (media)

All-Big Ten Third Team:

DL: Nate Meier, Iowa
DL: Anthony Zettel, Penn State
DL: Chris Wormley, Michigan (coaches)
DL: Austin Johnson, Penn State (coaches)
DL: Maliek Collins, Nebraska (media)
DL: Deonte Gibson, Northwestern (media)
LB: Vince Biegel, Wisconsin
LB: Riley Bullough, Michigan State (coaches)
LB: Darien Harris, Michigan State (coaches)
LB: Darron Lee, Ohio State (media)
LB: Steve Longa, Rutgers (media)
DB: Eric Murray, Minnesota
DB: Matt Harris, Northwestern
DB: Jordan Lomax, Iowa (coaches)
DB: Demetrious Cox, Michigan State (coaches)
DB: Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Minnesota (media)
DB: Nate Gerry (media)
K: Ryan Santoso, Minnesota (coaches)
K: Kenny Allen, Michigan (media)
P: Peter Mortell, Minnesota
RS: Janarion Grant (coaches)
RS: Solomon Vault, Northwestern (media)

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.