Jack Allen was the consensus best center in the Big Ten last season. Could he be the best center in America this season?
That remains to be seen, but the Hinsdale Central product and the anchor of Michigan State's offensive line was one of six Big Ten centers named to the massive 63-name watch list for the Rimington Trophy, the award handed out each season to college football's top center.
Allen was named to the All-Big Ten First Team by both coaches and media last season. Allen is a three-year starter heading into his senior year, starting 35 games for the Spartans over the past three seasons. He was one of the six finalists for last year's Rimington Trophy.
[MORE BIG TEN: First-team linemen pace Big Ten's dozen on Bednarik watch list]
The five other Big Ten centers joining Allen on the watch list are Iowa's Austin Blythe, Ohio State's Jacoby Boren, Penn State's Angelo Mangiro, Purdue's Robert Kugler and Wisconsin's Dan Voltz.
Blythe was named to the All-Big Ten First Team by the coaches last season, while Voltz was the media's selection.
The Rimington Trophy has been handed out in each of the past 15 years, with a Big Ten player taking home the award in five of those years. The last to do it was Michigan's David Molk in 2011.
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.