Big Ten

Upon further review, Justin Jackson one of 10 Big Ten backs on Doak Walker watch list

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Upon further review, Justin Jackson one of 10 Big Ten backs on Doak Walker watch list

Northwestern running back Justin Jackson ran for 2,605 yards in his first two seasons of college football, and he was one of 10 Big Ten running backs on the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award, which annually honors the top running back in college football.

Jackson's name was mysteriously absent from the original press release, but that turned out to be just an error.

That initial absence was of a great deal of shock considering how remarkably productive Jackson has been for the Wildcats in his first two seasons. Last year, he ranked second in the conference — trailing only Ohio State star and first-round draft choice Ezekiel Elliott — with 1,418 rushing yards, going for triple digits in eight of the team's 13 games. In wins over Ball State, Penn State and Illinois, he went for 172 yards or more. Jackson earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors from both coaches and members of the media.

The Big Ten had an impressive showing on the list with a contingent of Jackson, Illinois' Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Indiana's Devine Redding, Iowa's LeShun Daniels, Michigan's De'Veon Smith, Minnesota's Shannon Brooks, Nebraska's Terrell Newby, Penn State's Saquon Barkley, Purdue's Markell Jones and Wisconsin's Corey Clement.

Barkley was third in the conference in rushing last season with 1,076 yards in a breakout freshman campaign. He's gaining a lot of attention heading into this season after going over 100 yards in five games last season, including nearly hitting the 200-yard mark in games against Rutgers and Ohio State. Barkley earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors from both coaches and the media.

Clement hardly played last season, battling injuries in what was supposed to be his breakout season after taking over the starting job from Melvin Gordon. But there's reason to believe he can be the next great Badger back after he rushed for 947 yards and scored nine touchdowns as Gordon's backup in 2014.

Redding looks to follow Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard as star backs at Indiana. He rushed for 1,012 yards last season backing up Howard and finished the season off incredibly strong with 130-, 144- and 227-yard performances in the Hoosiers' final three games.

Vaughn impressed as a freshman last year for the Illini, backing up and filling in for Josh Ferguson. Vaughn dropped jaws with a terrific game against Purdue, rushing for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

Jones ranked eighth in the Big Ten with 875 rushing yards. He picked up a sizable amount of that total with 157 yards against Michigan State.

Newby ranked 10th in the league with 765 yards. Smith rushed for 753 yards last season, good for 12th in the Big Ten. Brooks was 14th with 709 yards. And Daniels ranked 20th with 646 yards.

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.