Big Ten: Jeff Radek

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Northwestern has dismissed redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jeff Radek from the team for policy violations, head coach Pat Fitzgerald announced after Thursday's practice. 

Radek was arrested Monday for possessing a BB gun in his dorm room. Evanston police were informed of the BB gun and arrested Radek, who is scheduled to appear in court April 22. 

It's unclear if the arrest was the sole reason for Radek's dismissal, as there might have been more than one rules violation. Northwestern isn't very lenient when it comes to player conduct, but the dismissal comes as a bit of a surprise. 

Radek was among several heralded offensive line recruits Northwestern signed in 2008. He likely would have been in the mix for a backup tackle position this fall. 

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Northwestern assistant Adam Cushing told reporters Wednesday that he has indeed become the team's offensive line coach after working with the superbacks (fullbacks/tight ends) for the past four seasons.

The move had been widely anticipated shortly after line coach Bret Ingalls left to become running backs coach with the New Orleans Saints. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald will look to hire a superbacks coach in the coming weeks. 

As Northwestern's top recruiter and recruiting coordinator, Cushing certainly deserves the promotion. He landed the Wildcats' top 2009 recruit, offensive lineman Patrick Ward, and also recruited Ben Burkett, who started as a redshirt freshman at center last fall. 

With so much personnel turnover at the offensive skill positions, the offensive line's development will be crucial in 2009. Northwestern returns four starters up front and also will incorporate its talented class of redshirt freshmen linemen, led by Brian Mulroe, Nick Adamle and Jeff Radek.

Cushing's ability to mold and improve the line will loom large in the fall.  

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Northwestern offensive line coach Bret Ingalls has left to take a position with the New Orleans Saints. An official announcement from the Saints is expected soon.

Ingalls, who spent three seasons with Northwestern, accepted an offer to coach the Saints' running backs last Wednesday. He has previously served as offensive coordinator at Louisville, San Diego State, Indiana State and Northern Iowa. 

He coached the Big Ten's youngest line this season and got decent results, as Northwestern tied for second in the league in fewest sacks allowed (22) and went 9-4. Ingalls' biggest contributions have come as a recruiter, as he helped land top line prospects like Brian Mulroe, Nick Adamle and Jeff Radek last February.

Northwestern continued to upgrade its line with a 2009 commitment from Patrick Ward. So the pieces are in place for continued improvement up front. It's up to head coach Pat Fitgerald to find someone to coach them up. Northwestern likely will announce Ingalls' replacement very soon. 

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

EVANSTON, Ill. -- When Martin Bayless met Hunter Bates on a recruiting visit to Northwestern, they soon realized they shared more than an interest in the same college.

Both players had fathers who logged lengthy NFL careers around the same time and at the same position.

Martin Bayless Sr. played safety for five NFL teams, most notably the San Diego Chargers, in a career that lasted from 1984-96. Bill Bates joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1983 and became an All-Pro special teams performer and safety in a 15-year career.

Their sons are now freshmen at Northwestern, adjusting to the demands of college football.

"You get a couple jokes here and there about, 'Oh, you look like your dad, you play like your dad,'" the younger Bayless said Thursday. "But it helps knowing the person next to you in the locker room has a dad just like you. They get the same jokes and they help you through it, just laugh it off."

Hunter Bates followed Bill's path and became a safety, while Martin Bayless Jr. diverted to wide receiver.

"We're getting to know each other, going against each other," Bayless said. "We talk about our dads a little bit, but our heads are more in the game right now, assignments and stuff."

College players with NFL lineages are common, but Northwestern's incoming freshman class features an extraordinary number of connections.

Offensive lineman Jeff Radek is a cousin of nine-time Pro Bowl safety John Lynch, while offensive lineman Nick Adamle comes from a family of football stars. Adamle's grandfather Alex played at Ohio State before earning All-Pro honors with the Cleveland Browns and his uncle, Mike, starred as a running back at Northwestern before playing seven pro seasons.

Bayless matches Adamle with two uncles who played in an NFL and a cousin, former Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson, still in the league. His father helps run the oldest and largest free football camp in the country, with locations in California, Ohio and Texas.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald sees Bayless and Bates as ordinary freshmen, but their connections to the sport certainly help.

"You can tell the guys who have been around the game a long time have a confidence level about them," Fitzgerald said. "Hunter Bates [is] out there catching punts. There was no special teams player arguably in the history of the NFL than Bill Bates. All those freshmen have some bloodlines, but they're freshmen. It's such a huge adjustment."

As Bayless makes the transition, he remembers his father's words.

"Just work hard," Bayless said. "If talent doesn't work hard, hard work will outwork talent."

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