Big Ten

Three Big Ten players picked in NFL Draft's first round


Three Big Ten players picked in NFL Draft's first round

Two years ago, just one Big Ten player was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft with the No. 31 pick. Thursday night, three went in the top 15 picks.

Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff, Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon were all picked in the top half of the first round on Day 1 of the 2015 NFL Draft on Thursday night at the Auditorium Theater.

It was the first time three players from Big Ten schools were selected in the draft's top 15 picks since 2007, when Wisconsin offensive lineman Joe Thomas, Penn State defensive lineman Levi Brown and Ohio State return man Ted Ginn Jr. were all picked in the top 10.

Here's a look at the three players who got to pose for pictures on stage with commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday.

[MORE BIG TEN: Hawkeyes fans' approval of Kirk Ferentz drops dramatically]

No. 5: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa — Washington Redskins

Scherff was expected to come off the board early, and he did, becoming the first top-10 pick from a Big Ten school since 2008, when Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long went No. 1 overall. He joins a long line of Iowa O-linemen picked in the first round, with Riley Reiff being the most recent in 2012. Scherff is enormous at 319 pounds, and he always projected as an NFL offensive lineman. Now he is one, and he’ll be blocking for Alfred Morris in our nation’s capital.

No. 11: Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State — Minnesota Vikings

Waynes was the first defensive back selected, another predicted outcome. His selection by the Vikings gave the Spartans two first-round cornerbacks in back-to-back drafts after Darqueze Dennard was picked by the Bengals with the No. 24 pick last year. Waynes and Dennard were the two starting corners on Michigan State’s 2013 team, which had the top-ranked defense in college football. Waynes now goes to Minnesota, where he’ll be defending the pass against the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford in the NFC North.

[MORE BIG TEN: Urban Meyer: All indications are that Braxton Miller is staying with Buckeyes]

No. 15: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin — San Diego Chargers

Gordon wasn’t the first running back picked Thursday — Georgia’s Todd Gurley was the No. 10 pick of the Rams — but he still earned rave reviews while being selected by the Chargers. He’s the latest in a line of Badgers running backs drafted into the pros, but the name he’ll be attached to for a while will be LaDanian Tomlinson. Tomlinson is arguably the greatest Charger of all time, and now Gordon looks to become the best San Diego running back since Tomlinson left town. Coincidentally, Gordon broke Tomlinson’s FBS single-game rushing record this past season. Both were top-five finishers in voting for the Heisman Trophy.

Interestingly, Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory was not selected in Thursday's first round despite being projected by many to go in the first 32 picks. Nebraska has yet to have a first-round selection since joining the Big Ten. Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith was also considered a fringe first-round possibility, but he remains on the board heading into Round 2. In fact, Ohio State had zero players selected, becoming the first national champion without a first-round pick since the 2002 Ohio State team.

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.

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Northwestern set to play Wisconsin at Wrigley Field in 2020

Weeks will separate a perfect 10-year anniversary where Northwestern will play at Wrigley Field for one of its regular season games in the upcoming years.

Back on Nov. 20, 2010, the Wildcats battled it out with Illinois, known as the “Wrigleyville Classic,” which saw the Illini take a 48-27 win.

Even though it’s still two years out, Northwestern still planned ahead and announced its opponent for its game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 7, 2020, against Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“Obviously an exciting opportunity for our football program to come back to Wrigley Field, one of the Cathedrals of sporting venues in the world,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “When I announced it to our team, they were absolutely ecstatic.”

“The opportunity to play at Wrigley field is unique to us, being Chicago’s Big Ten team, and to have the chance to come down and play in an atmosphere like we did a few years back was a bowl game type atmosphere, and I look forward to this special opportunity.”

This game though will be a little different than it was back in 2010. Both the Wildcats and Illini played toward the west end zone due to a tight squeeze near the right field wall due to box seats that were added down the third base line.

Now, Northwestern and Wisconsin do not have to worry about that problem because the bullpens have since moved to the outfield.

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney spoke at a news conference earlier on Tuesday at Wrigley.

“So excited to welcome back Northwestern to Wrigley Field to talk about football again,” Kenney said. “We had an incredible experience with them back in 2010."

Kenney also mentioned new seating is on a temporary platform that can all be removed and the dugout tops can be removed as well, and the field will expand west, to allow for a longer field.

With a sellout crowd in the last go around for the Wildcats, don’t be surprised for another sellout at the Friendly Confines.