Michigan State senior defensive end Shilique Calhoun's confidence was just as bold as his colorful bow tie at Thursday's Big Ten Media Days.
The standout lineman has made a name for himself nationally as being a monster on the edge for a menacing Spartans defense. He's a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection as well as a two-time second-team All-American selection, recording eight sacks and 12.5 tackles for a loss.
But most don't even consider him the best defensive lineman in the conference.
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Ohio State junior defensive end Joey Bosa retains those honors after dominating in the trenches for a national championship team that beat Alabama and Oregon in the College Football Playoff. Bosa won the Big Ten's Nagurski-Wooden Defensive Player of the Year award and even led the conference in tackles for a loss (21) and sacks (13.5).
To Calhoun, however, there's no doubt about who should be the most feared defensive lineman in the Big Ten.
"I do believe I am the best," Calhoun said with a smile. "That’s something I will say. I have faith in myself."
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Bosa, who some even consider a potential candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in next year's NFL Draft, was suspended from the Buckeyes' season opener on Thursday for a violation of athletic department policy. Calhoun recognizes his counterpart's special abilities but has the utmost belief in himself heading into his senior year.
"Of course I want to be the best," Calhoun said. "He’s done a great job the past couple years of definitely racking up his numbers and competing and being a competitor. At the end of the day, honestly I want to be the best. If you are a collegiate athlete and you don’t want to be the best, then I don’t know why you play the sport. Congratulations to him, but I’m looking for a great year out of myself."
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 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.