Bears

Lemming: Foster will be a star at Illinois

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Lemming: Foster will be a star at Illinois

Illinois football fans who are calling for the ouster of first-year coach Tim Beckman are reminded that Wisconsin boosters and the Madison media endorsed the firing of Barry Alvarez after his first Badger team went 1-11.

From all available evidence, however, it hasn't seemed to deter Beckman's ability to recruit. Longtime recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports predicts running back Kendrick Foster of Peoria Richwoods will be a star at Illinois.

Foster, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards as a junior and senior, is the type of player that Beckman needs to improve the talent level of his program, a difference-maker, an instant impact player, a game-changer. Bolingbrook quarterback Aaron Bailey could be the same. But the Illini need more of everything.

At Purdue, Joe Tiller re-energized his program when he recruited Drew Brees. Auburn did the same with Cam Newton. And look what Johnny Manziel, a 6-foot quarterback who was passed over by Texas and other major schools, has done for Texas A&M.

"Illinois isn't winning so they don't have any attraction for kids," Lemming said. "But give them an A for effort. Their organization is great. They have been on guys in the Midwest quicker than anyone else in the Big Ten. The bad-mouthing by fans and alumni is undeserved.

"Of course, you must win to draw kids back. Beckman must get the good Illinois players to stay at home. Remember, Beckman was left with an empty cupboard. There isn't much talent on the current roster. They need to get impact players."

To restock the roster with talent that can be competitive in the Big Ten, Lemming said Beckman and his staff must recruit nationally and evaluate everybody from coast to coast. Even Northwestern has become a national recruiter.

"If you can't beat Michigan and Ohio State and Notre Dame in the Midwest, you must go national and be aggressive recruiters. You've got to get a player like Marian Central's Chris Streveler, who went to Minnesota, or Ethan Pocic, who went to LSU, or Ty Isaac, who went to USC, or Jordan Westerkamp, who went to Nebraska."

Beckman is doing his best to make a dent in the class of 2014. There are no first-team All-Americans in Illinois, like Ty Isaac in the class of 2013, but it is a good class that is headed by five players who likely will rank among the top 100 in the nation.

They are tight end Nic Weishar of Marist, linebacker Clifton Garrett of Plainfield South, linebacker Nyles Morgan of Crete-Monee, safety Parrker Westphal of Bolingbrook and tackle Jamarco Jones of De La Salle. None of them, however, figure to rank in the top 50.

The nation's No. 1 player in the class of 2013, 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end Robert Nkemdiche of Loganville, Georgia, apparently is headed for Ole Miss after de-committing from Clemson.

Why Ole Miss over Alabama and Georgia, the two other schools he said he was considering?

"When I interviewed him in February, I thought he would go to Alabama," Lemming said. "But he attended the Ole MissArkansas game. His brother plays for Ole Miss. And his mother wants her sons to play together. I think he will go to Ole Miss."

Lemming spent the month of October traveling and observing and evaluating players in Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. "There are a lot of great players in the South," he said.

Alabama has at least seven players who could rank in the top 50 in the nation in the class of 2014.

The best ones are 6-foot, 180-pound cornerback Marlon Humphrey of Hoover, 6-foot-2, 220-pound running back Bo Scarborough of Tuscaloosa and 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker Tre Williams of Mobile.

Humphrey, son of former Alabama star Bobby Humphrey, is a top 10 player who likely will attend his father's alma mater. Scarborough, who is committed to Alabama, is one of the top five running backs in the nation.

Missouri's top prospects are 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive lineman Andy Bauer of St. Louis Vianney, who is committed to Missouri, and 6-foot-6, 320-pound offensive lineman Roderick Johnson of St. Louis Hazelwood Central.

It shapes up as a subpar year for quarterbacks nationally but Oklahoma has two blue chippers in 6-foot-5, 220-pound David Cornwell of Jones and 6-foot-4, 200-pound Justice Hansen of Edmond. Another standout is 5-foot-11, 210-pound running back Devon Thomas of Broken Arrow.

But the best player in Oklahoma is 6-foot-5, 235-pound defensive end Deondre Clark of Oklahoma City, who had 21 sacks in his first eight games. He is a top 20 player nationally.

It is an outstanding year for talent in the Nashville area. The No. 1 prospect in central Tennessee is 6-foot-3, 190-pound wide receiver Josh Malone of Gallatin.

Two of the best players in Arkansas are a pair of nose tackles, 6-foot-2, 320-pound Bijhon Jackson of El Dorado and 6-foot-4, 330-pound Josh Frazier of Fayetteville.

Under Center Podcast: Talking through the Bears’ playoff scenarios

Under Center Podcast: Talking through the Bears’ playoff scenarios

JJ Stankevitz, John “Moon” Mullin and Cam Ellis look at the best and worst-case scenarios for the Bears in the first round of the playoffs, and wonder if Mitchell Trubisky will be up to the task of putting the final nail in the Packers’ playoff coffin.

1:25: On the surface, who’s the Bears’ best and worst matchup in the wild card round?

2:45: Playoff odds time! Who has the highest chance of playing the Bears in the first round?

5:10: Ranking the quarterbacks of the Bears’ potential playoff opponents

9:00: If the Vikings have the ideal quarterback matchup for the Bears, they also have the best defense

12:00: Don’t count out the Packers just yet

15:35: The next step for the Bears? Be a “finisher” when it comes to Green Bay’s playoff hopes

17:15: Why Mitchell Trubisky sounds up for the task of eliminating the Packers

21:35: The moment hasn’t been too big for Trubisky and that’s a good thing

22:15: Jordan Howard’s game vs. LA is encouraging for the Bears down the stretch

25:55: The rest of the Bears’ offense actually showed signs of improvement vs. LA…except for the QB

Listen to the full Under Center Podcast right here:

Comparing Bulls players to wrestlers from WWE's Attitude Era

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AP

Comparing Bulls players to wrestlers from WWE's Attitude Era

HOT TAKE: Things aren’t great for the Bulls right now. Between fired coaches, player mutinies, getting trolled by the Kings, and a 6-22 record, it's tough to find things to get excited about. It's never good when the off-court news drowns out any on-court accomplishments. If this was a work of fiction it might be downright interesting. This feels more like 90s wrestling than 2018 NBA. In the spirit of taking a break from the negative stuff, and honoring the Gods of Content, here are the 2018 Bulls if they were Attitude Era WWE Superstars.

(Editor's Note: The WWE Attitude Era was 1997-2001)

Slam Dunks Don’t @ Me

Zach LaVine is The Rock

The Rock conquered Hollywood, LaVine went to UCLA. The Rock’s finishing move “The People’s Elbow” is the most electrifying move in sports entertainment. A Zach LaVine dunk is the most electrifying move in the United Center. The Rock was the “People’s Champ”. Zach became the Bull’s “People’s Champ” when he was top 5 in scoring in the face of injuries and team dysfunction. Do you smell what LaVine Cuisine is cooking?

Bobby Portis is Ken Shamrock 

Bobby is the emotional leader and brings 100 percent intensity each and every game. Ken Shamrock was called “The Most Dangerous Man in the World.”

Wendell Carter Jr. is The Undertaker

The Undertaker wasn’t always the elder statesmen of wrestling. When he debuted at Survivor Series in 1990, he was a 6-foot-10 athlete with a stoic personality who seemed mature for his age and had a huge upside. Sound like anyone you know? They even called The Undertaker, “The Phenom”. Can we please start calling Wendell Carter Jr. “The Phenom”? Please?

Ryan Arcidiacono is Billy Kidman

Ok, Billy Kidman was with WCW during the Attitude Era, but this is too perfect. They are both undersized fan favorites who overachieve and show flashes of brilliance. Plus they are 90’s dreamy. #TWOTIGERBEATS.

Lauri Markkanen is Chris Jericho

Both are blonde, charismatic, foreigners who have the potential to be The Best In the World. Jericho would often talk about how he would “save the fans” and Markkenan returned last week to save us from this season.

Justin Holiday is Christian

Both are solid, reliable athletes that have more heralded brothers. Christian is no Edge and so far Justin has not been Jrue. Both Justin and Christian can thrive if in the right circumstances. 

Kris Dunn is Eddie Guerrero 

Let’s hope Kris Dunn has the chance to have a career like Eddie Guerrero. Dunn is an undersized determined athlete with the work ethic heart and IQ to be great. Eddie Guerrero was an undersized determined athlete with the work ethic heart and IQ to be great and became great. We haven’t seen enough from Dunn to know what we have.

Robin Lopez is Kane

Cam Payne is X-Pac

Still Trying Figure Out and Welcome Suggestions Please @ Me 

•    Chandler Hutchison is the Lethal Weapon Steve Blackman
•    Jabari Parker is Razor Ramon
•    Shaq Harrison is D’Lo Brown
•    Denzel Valentine is Val Venis
•    Cristiano Felicio is Gangrel