Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Big Ten afternoon news roundup
By Brian Bennett
Several interesting news items have emerged this afternoon that deserve mention. So let's mention them all:
- Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema revealed during a banquet speech that incoming freshman quarterback Bart Houston will undergo surgery on his throwing arm. Although the exact extent of the injury and the recovery time are not yet known, Houston will likely miss at least part of fall camp. It was probably expecting too much to think Houston could come in right away and start for the Badgers as a freshman; this news makes that scenario even more unlikely. The Wisconsin quarterback scramble remains very unsettled, and two other candidates -- Jon Budmayr and Curt Phillips -- have had their own injury issues.
- Michigan continues to roll in recruiting the 2013 class. On Tuesday, outside linebacker Mike McCray II committed to the Wolverines. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Trotwood, Ohio, product is an ESPNU 150 Watch List prospect, becoming the 11th such player to commit to Michigan for 2013 already. His other suitors included Illinois, Nebraska and Tennessee among others. As colleague Jared Shanker writes, McCray's father played linebacker for Ohio State, but the son chose the Maize and Blue. The Buckeyes haven't offered McCray a scholarship, and McCray says he'll stay committed to Michigan even if Urban Meyer comes calling. What an impressive early haul by Brady Hoke thus far.
- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini previewed the Huskers' spring practice at a news conference on Tuesday and dropped some interesting tidbits. He said the center competition will include Cole Pensick, Justin Jackson, Mark Pelini and Ryne Reeves. Spencer Long won't move from his guard spot. Pelini couldn't officially confirm the hiring of Terry Joseph from Tennessee as defensive backs coach because all the paperwork hasn't been approved, but he said that Joseph would be "about as perfect of a fit you can have." Alonzo Whaley and David Santos will get the first cracks at replacing Lavonte David at linebacker. Linemen Chase Rome, Todd Peat and Jake Cotton will miss all of spring practice with injuries.
- Illinois coach Tim Beckman also previewed spring practice, which opens Wednesday. Beckman told reporters that defensive tackle Justin Staples will miss some game time this fall because of his February DUI arrest. Staples is practicing this spring and is expected to challenge for the starting spot vacated by Whitney Mercilus. Beckman also said that top returning rusher Donovonn Young has been out for most of winter workouts because of pain from a previous stress fracture in his foot. The Illini are already very thin at running back, so this does not come as promising news.