Big Ten

Top Illini recruit Jeremiah Tilmon requests release from National Letter of Intent after coaching change

Top Illini recruit Jeremiah Tilmon requests release from National Letter of Intent after coaching change

The commitment of Jeremiah Tilmon to Illinois last summer was the biggest splash in a big-time recruiting class for John Groce.

But a lot has happened since, most importantly Groce being fired and replaced with Brad Underwood, sparking Tilmon to reconsider his commitment to the Illini.

Tilmon, who signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball in Champaign, announced Wednesday that he's requested a release from that letter.

"Thank you University of Illinois athletics for understanding my position as a future student-athlete that signed to play for coach Groce but has requested a release from NLI since coaching changes," Tilmon posted Wednesday afternoon on Instagram. "My family and I feel it's only fair that we hear all opportunities and not be stuck in one situation. We will wait patiently on the release from the NLI.

"Illinois will always remain an option because of my ongoing relationship with (assistant) coach (Jamall) Walker, but this is my future and I need to be certain before I come to campus in June."

While Illini fans will certainly take this as a bout of bad news, it's perfectly understandable considering the circumstances and not infrequent in college athletics. Tilmon committed to Groce and signed his National Letter of Intent while Groce was still the coach. Groce is now gone.

Tilmon could very well still end up in Champaign, but now other schools can re-enter the mix.

Tilmon is ranked as a five-star center and the No. 25 player in the Class of 2017 by Rivals. He was the most notable member of a loaded recruiting class for Groce that also included four-star guards Trent Frazier and Da'Monte Williams as well as three-star guard Javon Pickett. Fans and observers are also still watching closely to see if four-star guard Mark Smith — also being recruited by Walker — will make this blockbuster class even better.

Rivals currently ranks the Illini's 2017 class as one of the top 15 in the country.

Underwood and athletics director Josh Whitman both said during press conferences that they planned to reach out to all the members of this year's highly ranked Illinois recruiting class. And the reported retention of Walker as one of Underwood's assistants figures to be important in trying to keep Tilmon a future Illini.

But now there's another waiting game to be played.

As for the other members of that class, they have made it known that they're committed to Underwood and the Illini.

https://twitter.com/JavonPickett/status/847494910244601857

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

jeremy_larkin.jpg
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

anderson.jpg
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.