Big Ten: Henry Conway
- SI.com breaks down the Big Ten in 2010, posts its preseason All-Big Ten team, and Stewart Mandel looks at Michigan's seniors and their desire to go out as winners.
- CBSSports.com also has its 2010 Big Ten preview, and Dennis Dodd checks in with Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who doesn't want to be labeled just an athlete.
- As the Big Ten prepares for a nine-game league slate, Penn State has no room to put longtime rival Pitt back on the schedule, Jerry DiPaola writes in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Drew Astorino is the latest Penn State defensive back dealing with an injury, Bob Flounders writes in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News.
- Bad news on the injury front for Michigan State, as offensive lineman Henry Conway reinjures his neck, Joe Rexrode writes in the Lansing State Journal. Spartans tight end Charlie Gantt does some serious damage in the weight room, as Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger found out, Carlos Monnarez writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez talks Tate Forcier, winged helmets and the depleted secondary, Angelique Chengelis writes in The Detroit News.
- Illinois' Mikel Leshoure accepts the running back by committee plan, but he still wants the ball, Herb Gould writes in the Chicago Sun-Times. The Illini's young players are stepping up in camp, Pete Hayes writes in The (Alton) Telegraph.
- Freshman Donnell Kirkwood is pushing Minnesota's top two running backs for the starting job, Marcus Fuller writes in the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press (subscription required).
- Indiana has designed its preseason like an NFL training camp, which means few full-pads practices, Dustin Dopirak writes in The (Bloomington) Herald-Times (subscription required).
- The Associated Press' Rusty Miller looks at 10 questions for Ohio State this fall.
- Former Purdue quarterback Justin Siller is getting comfortable as a receiver, Mike Carmin writes in The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier.
- Northwestern's All-Big Ten kicker, Stefan Demos, can focus on what he does best this year, Tina Akouris writes in the Chicag0 Sun-Times.
- Wisconsin offensive lineman Bill Nagy is ready to roll after a scooter accident cost him the 2009 season, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.
- Kirk Ferentz's son James is right in the mix for Iowa's starting center spot, Marc Morehouse writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
What's new: Mark Dantonio made his first staff change in quite some time, as he hired running backs coach Brad Salem to replace Dan Enos, who left to become Central Michigan's head coach. The Spartans are transitioning to a 3-4 alignment on defense as they look to maximize their talent there. Keith Nichol, who spent most of the 2009 season as Michigan State's No. 2 quarterback, has a new position: wide receiver. Although Michigan State has good depth at receiver, Nichol enters the season as a projected starter.
Sidelined: The Spartans are relatively healthy entering camp. Offensive tackle Henry Conway is fully cleared to practice after sustaining a neck injury. Linebacker Justin Wilson, an 2010 recruit, isn't on the roster and will spend time at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. The December on-campus assault involving Spartans players resulted in the departures of several players, including nose tackle Oren Wilson.
Key battle: Offensive line is a group to watch this month, and especially the competition at right tackle. Senior J'Michael Deane and junior Jared McGaha are listed as co-starters on the preseason depth chart. Conway, who generated some buzz before his neck injury, should be right in the mix. Another battle takes place at kicker, as Kevin Muma and Dan Conroy try to replace standout Brett Swenson.
New on the scene: Michigan State's recent recruiting success is well documented, and the coaches should see the fruits of their labor this fall. Two incoming recruits, William Gholston and Max Bullough, will enter the rotation at linebacker right away. Running backs Nick Hill and LeVeon Bell also might work their way into the mix.
Back in the fold: Johnny Adams started two games at cornerback as a freshman in 2008 before missing 10 games last fall with a shoulder injury. Granted a medical hardship, Adams returns and enters camp as a projected starter. Michigan State's secondary really needs playmakers, and Adams could provide a big boost this fall.
Breaking out: Keshawn Martin made the most of his touches in 2009, averaging 22.8 yards per reception, 28.9 yards per kick return and 7.4 yards per punt return. Michigan State will make a much stronger effort to get the ball in Martin's hands this fall. All-American Greg Jones is the leader on defense, but the Spartans also need promising young players like Jerel Worthy, Blake Treadwell, Trenton Robinson and Adams to step up.
Quotable: "We have a lot of experience back. That speaks to our leadership as a program and as a team right now. From the way our players have worked thus far and winter workouts, spring practice and now summer conditioning, it would not seem that we're overconfident. We have some things that we need to prove. I think that's very evident." -- head coach Mark Dantonio
BIG TEN NEWS
- Check out ESPN.com's coverage of Day 1 at Big Ten media days. A league title game should be here in 2011, and Nebraska AD Tom Osborne weighs in on his first visit to a Big Ten event.
- The Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein recaps Day 1.
- Commissioner Jim Delany showed Monday why he's the man in charge, Curt McKeever writes in the Lincoln Journal Star.
- A look at how Big Ten teams and Nebraska have fared since 1993, the starting point for determining competitive balance in the divisions, Rich Exner writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- More Day 1 highlights from AOL FanHouse's John Walters.
- Change is in the air for the Big Ten, but its brand name remains rock solid, Scott Dochterman writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- Indianapolis will know soon if it lands the first Big Ten football championship game, Jeff Rabjohns writes in The Indianapolis Star.
- A nine-game conference schedule is coming, but Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema doesn't like it, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.
- Joe Paterno is getting older, so let's relish the time he's still here, CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd writes. Paterno hasn't lost his charm, Dave Curtis writes in The Sporting News.
- Who can dethrone Ohio State in the Big Ten? Curtis looks at the challengers. Ohio State remains the team to beat in this league, Tim May writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Indiana's athletic director gives Bill Lynch a vote of confidence, LaMond Pope writes in The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.
- Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz sounds off on upcoming suspensions, the health of defensive coordinator Norm Parker and more, Marc Morehouse writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- The academic status of Michigan running back Michael Shaw remains unsettled as camp gets closer, Mark Snyder writes in the Detroit Free Press. The Wolverines' quarterback race is wide open, annarbor.com's Michael Rothstein writes.
- Good news for Michigan State, as promising young offensive lineman Henry Conway is good to go, Joe Rexrode writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Not-so good news for Purdue, as defensive tackle Kevin Pamphile is out until at least early October, Mike Carmin writes in The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier.
- Illinois' grand experiment might just work out in the end, Mark Tupper writes in The (Decatur) Herald & Review.
- Northwestern knows the run game must improve in 2010, ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers writes.
- Wisconsin's already-stacked offensive line will have Peter Konz at its disposal when practice begins, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. More good news, as backup quarterback Curt Phillips (torn ACL) could be on the field by October, Mulhern writes.
- Offensive coordinator Calvin Magee has enjoyed Michigan's quarterback competition this spring, Angelique Chengelis writes in The Detroit News. Former Michigan quarterback Steven Threet will be the nation's biggest impact transfer this fall, according to The Sporting News' Matt Hayes.
- Wisconsin's new backup quarterback, Jon Budmayr, is making progress this spring, and the team's health has started to improve, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.
- Promising redshirt freshman tackle Henry Conway goes down for Michigan State, Shannon Shelton writes in the Detroit Free Press. The Spartans are using the 3-4 defense a lot more this spring, Joe Rexrode writes in the Lansing State Journal.
- Dan Herron got most of the reps in Thursday's practice as several of his fellow Ohio State running backs were banged up, Ken Gordon writes in The Columbus Dispatch. The Buckeyes will wear pink in their spring game for a good cause.
- Penn State specialist Anthony Fera doesn't help his cause in the ongoing competition for the starting punter job, Derek Levarse reports in The Times-Leader.
- Some news and observations from Indiana's practice Thursday from The (Bloomington) Herald-Times' Dustin Dopirak.
- Justin Green's injury has created opportunity for Bud Golden to step in as Illinois' No. 3 running back, Bob Asmussen writes in The (Champaign) News-Gazette. More on Illinois' new old-school approach this spring from GateHouse News Service's John Supinie.
Both backfield positions are pretty much settled this year, as Kirk Cousins is the clear No. 1 quarterback and sophomores Larry Caper and Edwin Baker will share carries at running back. The Spartans are also well stocked at both wide receiver and tight end, losing only one major contributor in Blair White and gaining a potential star wideout in converted quarterback Keith Nichol.
The Spartans lose three linemen with significant starting experience -- center Joel Nitchman, tackle Rocco Cironi and guard Brendon Moss -- from a front five that allowed the fewest sacks (14) in the Big Ten last fall. Head coach Mark Dantonio will lean on left guard Joel Foreman and left tackle D.J. Young, and center John Stipek started three games while Nitchman was out with an injury.
But other than those three, the Spartans have plenty of question marks up front, which means plenty of competition this spring.
"You'd like to have your two-deep solidified coming out of [spring practice]," Dantonio said Tuesday. "We have enough people. Guys have made strides. But the key is, have they been playing? Have they been coached? Have they actively been doing this?"
The right side of the Spartans' line is wide open, as a large group of players competes at both spots, including Jared McGhaha, Chris McDonald, J'Michael Deane, John Deyo and Antonio Jeremiah, a converted defensive lineman. Several redshirt freshmen also are in the mix, including tackles Henry Conway and David Barrent.
"There's some youth in there that we're trying to polish up," offensive coordinator Don Treadwell said.
Dantonio said McGaha is "making a move" at tackle this spring, while McDonald is working as the team's starting right guard right now. Redshirt freshman Nate Klatt is pushing Stipek for the starting center spot.
Both Dantonio and Treadwell singled out Klatt for his play this spring.
Michigan State finished second in the Big Ten in passing last fall, while the run game slipped to 73rd nationally. Don't expect those trends to continue, as the Spartans want to re-establish the run behind Caper, Baker and, hopefully, a solid line.
"We didn't run it as well as we needed to run it, that's the bottom line," Dantonio said. "We've got numbers [at offensive line] and they've all improved, and you see the result of that."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Several things stand out about Michigan State's recruiting class, the first of which is plainly obvious.
Barring a series of busts, this will be the Spartans' best recruiting haul in quite some time.
The class currently stands at 22 members after the recent additions of offensive tackle Henry Conway and outside linebacker Denzel Drone. Michigan State has addressed nearly every position on the field and loaded up at offensive line (five commits), linebacker (five commits) and wide receiver/tight end (five commits).
Perhaps most important, the Spartans will add a pair of running backs in Edwin Baker and Larry Caper, both of whom might compete for carries right away. Michigan State failed to develop a back behind Javon Ringer this season and needs to fill a major void there (nation-high 370 carries).
The local flavor of the Spartans' commitments also stands out. Drone, a Floridian who committed during the weekend, is the first Michigan State commit not hailing from Big Ten territory. Michigan State has 12 in-state commits and seven from Ohio, a state Mark Dantonio has recruited for years.
In contrast, Michigan State's 28-man class of 2005 had more than half of its members (15) coming from non-Big Ten states.
I never get too high on recruiting because the bust quotient simply is too high, while several Big Ten teams always get more from supposedly inferior talent. But Michigan State certainly looks like a bright spot for the Big Ten heading into national signing day.