Big Ten: Kraig Appleton
What about the most decorated Big Ten recruits from four years ago? In preparation for national signing day Feb. 6, the folks at RecruitingNation took a look back at the ESPN 150 from 2009 (there wasn't an ESPN 300 back then) and recorded what each recruit did at the college level.
A total of 21 Big Ten recruits made the 150 from 2009. Some turned out to be stars, others never got on track and a few haven't written the final chapter of their college careers.
Let's take a look (positions listed according to ESPN recruiting profiles):
- No. 22: Jaamal Berry, RB, Ohio State -- Played sparingly in 2010 and 2011 before off-field issues led to a suspension. Transferred to FCS Murray State and recorded 675 rush yards this past season.
- No. 32: Dorian Bell, LB, Ohio State -- Appeared in eight games for Ohio State in 2010 before being suspended the following year and eventually transferred to FCS Duquesne, where he performed well in the 2012 season.
- No. 47: Craig Roh, DE, Michigan -- Started 51 games for Michigan, a team record, and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in each of the past two seasons.
- No. 67: Je'Ron Stokes, WR, Michigan -- Played sparingly at Michigan before the coaching transition from Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke. Transferred to Bowling Green and caught 15 passes this past season.
- No. 69: David Barrent, OT, Michigan State -- Played in seven games as a reserve before back problems ended his career in May 2011.
- No. 74: Eric Shrive, OT, Penn State -- Shrive appeared in every game as a reserve guard in 2012 and could compete for a starting job in 2013.
- No. 81: Quinton Washington, G, Michigan -- Washington has moved to defensive tackle and entered the starting lineup in 2012, recording 32 tackles and a sack.
- No. 87: Terry Hawthorne, WR, Illinois -- Hawthorne played mostly cornerback at Illinois and made starts in all four seasons, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in each of the past two. He also returned kicks and punts and should be selected in April's NFL draft.
- No. 88: C.J. Barnett, CB, Ohio State -- Barnett has been a mainstay in Ohio State's secondary the past two seasons, recording 56 tackles, two interceptions and six pass breakups in nine games in 2012. He is expected to start at safety for the Buckeyes in 2013.
- No. 94: Isaiah Bell, S, Michigan -- Bell didn't play a snap for Michigan before leaving the program in March and playing for Division II Lake Erie College this past season.
- No. 99: Jamie Wood, S, Ohio State -- Wood has appeared in 30 games for the Buckeyes, mostly on special teams, but has battled shoulder problems and underwent surgery last fall.
- No. 101: Denard Robinson, athlete, Michigan -- Who's this guy? Robinson started three seasons at quarterback for the Wolverines, setting an NCAA quarterback rushing record as well as many other milestones. He was the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Year in 2010 and finished his career with 4,495 rush yards, 6,250 pass yards and 91 touchdowns.
- No. 112: Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State -- Had a breakout season in 2010 as the starter, rushing for 1,201 yards and 13 touchdowns. But he lost his starting job to Le'Veon Bell in 2011 and declared for the NFL draft after the season. He was a seventh-round pick of the San Diego Chargers and spent most of 2012 on the team's practice squad.
- No. 115: Kraig Appleton, WR, Wisconsin -- Had three receptions in the 2009 season before being suspended the following spring and eventually leaving school. He was the victim of a shooting in July 2011 but survived.
- No. 116: Keenan Davis, WR, Iowa -- Started the past two seasons and finished second on the squad in receptions in both years (47 in 2012) but never blossomed like many thought he would.
- No. 124: Melvin Fellows, DE, Ohio State -- Fellows played sparingly in five games in 2010 but endured chronic knee problems that eventually forced him to take a medical harship, ending his career.
- No. 126: Jack Mewhort, C, Ohio State -- Mewhort saw the field a lot early in his career at guard and moved to left tackle last season, where he flourished. He'll help anchor Ohio State's offensive line in 2013.
- No. 128: Moses Alipate, QB, Minnesota -- Has been a nonfactor so far in his career. Switched from quarterback to tight end and checks in at 6-foot-5, 297 pounds.
- No. 131: Duron Carter, WR, Ohio State -- Saw the field early in his Buckeyes career before academic problems eventually forced him to leave for a junior college. He transferred to Alabama but never played because of academics and transferred again to Florida Atlantic, where he sat out the 2012 season.
- No. 144: Tate Forcier, QB, Michigan -- Forcier started the 2009 season, led Michigan to a memorable win against Notre Dame but struggled down the stretch and lost his job to Robinson in 2010. Academic issues sidelined him for the 2011 Gator Bowl, and he left school weeks later. Although he transferred to San Jose State, he never played.
- No. 148: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan -- Lewan has been a mainstay for Michigan's offensive line, earning Big Ten offensive lineman of the year honors in 2012. Projected as a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft, Lewan surprised many by deciding to return to Michigan for his senior season.
An interesting mix, for sure. Lewan, the last player listed, might turn out to be the most successful. So few of the Big Ten's top 100 recruits panned out, and Ohio State fans have to be shaking their heads a bit at this list, as only Mewhort and Barnett look like success stories. There were unfortunate injury situations like Michigan State's Barrent and Ohio State's Fellows, some academic casualties (Carter, Forcier), and a downright sad story with Appleton. Baker was the only player on the list to make an early jump to the NFL.
Although several players didn't pan out, Michigan undoubtedly has to feel the best about the 2009 class as Robinson produced a record-setting career, Roh was a solid player, Lewan is a star and Washington could be a star in 2013.
Eight Big Ten teams are represented on the 2009 list. Those that aren't: Indiana, Nebraska, Northwestern and Purdue.
RecruitingNation also re-ranks the top 10 classes , with both Ohio State (No. 9) and Michigan (No. 10) holding their positions.
- In case you missed them, the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer's Big Ten media poll results here and here and here.
- The Big Ten's equitable financial setup allowed competitive balance to be the deciding factor in divisional alignment, Scott Dochterman writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- Linebacker recruit Kellen Jones is no longer with Michigan, although receiver Darryl Stonum appears on the updated roster, Angelique Chengelis writes in The Detroit News. The Wolverines add a fullback to their 2012 class.
- Mark Dantonio's former players say it's unfair to compare the Michigan State coach to his mentor, Jim Tressel. Michigan State is free of any infractions, Joe Rexrode writes in the Lansing State Journal. MSU athletic director Mark Hollis is open to playing Michigan in primetime -- as long as it's in East Lansing.
- More on the Time Warner Cable-Big Ten Network agreement in Nebraska. Huskers football players excel in the classroom, Steven M. Sipple writes in the Lincoln Journal Star.
- Terrelle Pryor's status for the NFL seems to be in limbo.
- The outlook for Minnesota in 2011 doesn't look too optimistic, Phil Miller writes in the Star Tribune. Good news for the Gophers as defenders Ra'Shede Hageman and Michael Carter will be academically eligible this fall, Sid Hartman writes in the Star Tribune.
- The (Champaign) News-Gazette's Loren Tate writes you shouldn't judge Illinois' 2012 recruiting just yet.
- Wisconsin's starting offensive backfield from 2010 finally finds NFL homes. Former Badgers receiver Kraig Appleton is in stable condition after being shot several times during the weekend.
- Iowa picked up two 2012 recruits in recent days.
- More on Purdue's schedule shuffle from The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier's Mike Carmin.
- Some updates on Indiana players signing with NFL teams from The (Bloomington) Herald-Times.
- Two Northwestern defenders sign free-agent deals.
- No official word from Purdue on star receiver Keith Smith, but Smith's high school coach says the senior tore his ACL and MCL, Mike Carmin writes in The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier.
- Former Minnesota All-American Bob Stein says the program's current condition is "shameful," Charley Walters writes in the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press.
- Promising Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges is out indefinitely with a leg injury, Bob Flounders writes in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News.
- Denard Robinson is all over ESPN these days, but the Michigan quarterback doesn't even have cable, Angelique Chengelis writes in The Detroit News. In case you missed it, ESPN Stats & Information examines Robinson's historically hot start, and colleague Andrea Adelson compares Robinson's start with Tim Tebow's in 2007. Some good Wolverines notes from annarbor.com's Pete Bigelow.
- Mark Dantonio knows Michigan State's best football is ahead of it, Shannon Shelton writes in the Detroit Free Press. A look back at the late Brad Van Pelt, whose number will be retired Saturday at Spartan Stadium, Joe Rexrode writes in the Lansing State Journal.
- Tim May and Ken Gordon discuss Ohio State's win against Miami and the soft slate ahead in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Coaches keep talking (joking, mostly) about Kirk Ferentz's salary at Iowa, Ryan Suchomel writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
- Coach Bret Bielema isn't ruling out Kraig Appleton's return to Wisconsin, though don't hold your breath, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal. Wisconsin players haven't forgotten what Steven Threet did to them in 2008 at the Big House, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Northwestern's trip to Rice will be a homecoming for several Houston natives on the team, Lindsey Willhite writes in the Daily Herald.
- Illinois' Jack Ramsey is back at receiver after a recent switch to defensive back, Bob Asmussen writes in The (Champaign) News-Gazette.
- It has been pretty much status quo at Indiana during an unusually long early season hiatus, Dustin Dopirak writes in The (Bloomington) Herald-Times (subscription required).
- Redshirt freshman defensive end Anthony LaLota has asked for and received his release and intends to transfer from U-M. LaLota, who redshirted in 2009 and hasn't played this season, was rated the nation's No. 13 defensive end in the 2009 class by ESPN recruiting.
- Linebacker Mike Jones likely will have season-ending surgery on his broken leg, and defensive end/linebacker Brandon Herron is day-to-day with an ankle injury.
- Wide receiver David Gilreath (concussion) doesn't appear on this week's depth chart, and his status for the Arizona State game (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET) is to be determined. Coach Bret Bielema said Monday that Gilreath needs to overcome any post-concussion symptoms before being able to return. Gilreath had to be taken off the field in an ambulance Saturday after taking a blow to the head on a punt return.
- Wide receiver Nick Toon (turf toe), linebacker Chris Borland (shoulder) and defensive end David Gilbert (concussion) all could return to practice Tuesday.
- The status of starting right tackle Josh Oglesby (knee) will be determined later in the week.
- Bielema also said wide receiver Kraig Appleton would have to earn an associate's degree from a junior college before having a chance to return to the team. Appleton was indefinitely suspended in February and struggled academically before leaving school.
- Freshman running back Matt Perez will miss the season after tearing his ACL in practice last week. Perez was a likely redshirt candidate.
- Wide receiver Tandon Doss is expected to practice today after missing the season opener with a groin injury. The All-Big Ten receiver will return Saturday at Western Kentucky. Receiver Dre Muhammad also should return after missing time with an ankle injury.
The Badgers had to replace All-Big Ten defensive end O'Brien Schofield, middle linebacker Jaevery McFadden, safety leader Chris Maragos and both starting defensive tackles. Plus, they had to build depth at linebacker as Chris Borland, the 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and Mike Taylor sat out with injuries.
But when spring practice ended Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, it was the Badgers offense, a unit that returns nine starters, that seemed to be searching for answers.
The defense stepped up in Saturday's spring game, holding the offense to only two touchdowns and just 101 total rushing yards (for Wisconsin, that translates to about 30). The Big Ten's top red zone offense in 2009 had to settle for three short field goals after stalling near the goal line.
To be fair, the offense played without star running back John Clay and top wide receiver Nick Toon, and the offensive line has seen a lot of shuffling this spring because of injuries. But quarterback Scott Tolzien (12-for-22, 138 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs) and his fellow offensive teammates were disappointed in their performance.
"We need to be better than that come fall," Tolzien said. "It's good for us to have a setback like that as long as we use it to our advantage and just realize there's a sense of urgency here. We've got to have a great offseason."
Defensive end Louis Nzegwu moved closer to locking up a starting spot with three sacks, and linebacker Culmer St. Jean and safety Jay Valai both recorded interceptions. Cornerbacks Niles Brinkley, Antonio Fenelus and Devin Smith also came on strong toward the end of the spring.
- Jon Budmayr is still settling in as Wisconsin's backup quarterback, and he'll need a strong summer after struggling in several spring scrimmages. Budmayr completed just 9 of 19 passes for 68 yards with two interceptions for the second-team offense on Saturday. He completed 3 of 6 passes for 16 yards with the first-team offense and was sacked three times in the game.
- Lance Kendricks looks ready to become an elite tight end in the Big Ten and recorded six receptions for 63 yards, including a 19-yarder.
- Redshirt freshman linebacker Ethan Armstrong recorded a game-high 14 tackles and a pass breakup, while linebacker Conor O'Neill had 12 stops and a pass breakup.
- Head coach Bret Bielema confirmed that wide receiver Kraig Appleton has left school and won't return to the team. Appleton and two other players, defensive end Shelby Harris and linebacker Nick Hill, were indefinitely suspended in February for unspecified violations. Harris and Hill both could work their way back to the team.
- The Big Ten needs to force Notre Dame's hand with the expansion push, Bob Hunter writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Ohio State's defense dominated Saturday's jersey scrimmage, leaving the offense stunned, Doug Lesmerises writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- Ron Zook's top recruits at Illinois this winter were his new coordinators, Herb Gould writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Wide receiver Kraig Appleton won't return to Wisconsin, while two teammates could work their way back, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Badgers backup quarterback Jon Budmayr looked shaky in the spring game, Tom Oates writes in the Wisconsin State Journal.
- Iowa passes the eye test in spring practice, Pat Harty writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Jeff Tarpinian steps up as the Hawkeyes' top middle linebacker, Marc Morehouse writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- Michigan's quarterbacks scramble and buy time, just like head coach Rich Rodriguez, and all parties need to make progress in 2010, Bob Wojnowski writes in The Detroit News. Wolverines' safety Cameron Gordon stepped up for the team and switched positions, Mark Snyder writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- With few healthy running backs on the field, Purdue's quarterbacks stood out in Saturday's spring game, Mike Carmin writes in The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier.
- Michigan State is building depth at running back with freshmen Nick Hill and Le'Veon Bell, Joe Rexrode writes in the Lansing State Journal.
- Minnesota safety Kim Royston underwent leg surgery Friday, and there's a chance he could be back for the season opener, Kent Youngblood writes in the Star Tribune.
- Former Penn State linebacker Sean Lee could be a sleeper pick in this weekend's draft, Keith Pompey writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
As it turns out, the Badgers won't take any chances with Clay, holding the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year out for the entire spring. Wisconsin opens spring ball Saturday.
Clay has had chronic problems in both of his ankles at Wisconsin and underwent surgeries to relieve the pain.
"The thing that excites me about his injury is I think [the surgeries will] give him relief, allow him to become a better football player," head coach Bret Bielema said Wednesday.
Bielema expects Clay to be ready for the start of summer conditioning in June.
This is definitely the smart move for Wisconsin, which knows what it can get from Clay in 2010. I totally understand if Badgers fans are alarmed by seeing their stud running back shut down for spring ball, but Clay's ankle issues needed to be addressed. He'll have plenty of time to recover and train this summer.
Montee Ball and Zach Brown will get more work in Clay's place this spring.
Bielema also said starting left tackle Gabe Carimi (knee) and center John Moffitt (undisclosed) will miss the first half of spring ball. The status of three suspended players -- wideout Kraig Appleton, defensive end Shelby Harris and linebacker Nick Hill -- won't change during spring ball.
No details were provided about the suspensions, which were first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Appleton, one of the team's top recruits in the 2009 class, had three receptions for 26 yards last season. Both Harris and Hill redshirted last year.
Wisconsin opens spring practice March 13.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
- Eight players are in the mix for three linebacker spots at Ohio State, Tim May writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez wants to see a preseason in college football, annarbor.com's Dave Birkett writes. Everyone knows about Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson, but here are eight other Michigan freshmen who could play right away this fall, Mark Snyder writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Miami transfer Robert Marve is fitting in nicely at Purdue, Mike Carmin writes in The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier.
- Bulked-up linebacker Quentin Davie could have a big year for Northwestern this fall, Teddy Greenstein writes in the Chicago Tribune.
- As I expected, redshirt freshman Curt Phillips is looking more like the man to beat in Wisconsin's quarterback competition, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Heralded Wisconsin recruit Kraig Appleton started reconsidering football in June after one of his best friends was shot and killed, Jim Polzin writes in The Capital Times.
- Michigan State cornerback Ross Weaver is the total package, Shannon Shelton writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Penn State's Evan Royster wants to take on a bigger role this fall, Ron Musselman writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Several projected starters at Indiana, including defensive end Jammie Kirlew, missed Monday's practice with injuries.
- For heralded quarterback recruit Nathan Scheelhaase, it's a family affair at Illinois, John Supinie writes.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Official practice reports are few and far between in the Big Ten -- I'm definitely jealous of ACC blogger Heather Dinich -- but several teams put together some notes on the early workouts.
Here are a few tidbits from around the league.
WISCONSIN (Tuesday's practice)
- One notable thing from the position drills was the defensive backs were putting a lot of emphasis on catching whatever was thrown their way from assistants Randall McCray and Kerry Cooks. During one of the interception drills, if a player dropped a ball, they had to do push-ups, much like the wide receivers had to do during spring practice. I only noticed three players doing push-ups during the drill.
- After the position work, the Badgers broke down onto 7-on-7 drills and punters Brad Nortman and Ryan Wickesberg had the opportunity to punt in special teams work. Aaron Henry and David Gilreath worked as the punt returners and after that, the team did a tempo drill to work on getting substitutions from the sideline and in and out of the huddle at a fast pace.
- Offensive linemen Bill Nagy and John Moffitt were both kept out of practice today, but they were seen riding on the stationary bikes.
- Freshman wide receiver Kraig Appleton had a lot of throws coming his way, but the most impressive one came during the freshmen vs. freshmen drill. Jon Budmayr found Appleton, who was heavily defended at the sidelines, but caught the pass and broke the defense before going out of bounds.
- The passing game is coming along. Junior Hayo Carpenter showed some very sticky hands on a couple of passes that maybe shouldn't have been caught. One day after a dropped pass on what could have been a big gain, sophomore Brandon Green made a great diving catch along the far sideline for a 30-plus yard gain. Last but not least, in seven-on-seven drills, senior Eric Decker got free down a seam in the defense and out-ran the secondary to the end zone.
- Cornerback Traye Simmons had a big day defensively. Simmons put together quite a nice sequence late in practice, during some team scrimmage work. In the span of four plays, he tallied a pick and a pass break-up. Simmons grabbed the interception on a tipped ball and got the PBU by knocking away a pass that looked like it would surely come down in the hands of Decker.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
I'm still in an All-Star mood the day after the Midsummer Classic, and I was excited to read an excellent post by colleague Brian Bennett over at the Big East blog. BB took a look at the home run hitters in the Big East, guys like West Virginia's Noel Devine who can take one to the house at any given time.
|Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire|
|He hasn't scored much, but Arrelious Benn averaged over 15 yards per catch in 2008.|
The Big Ten has taken heat in recent years for a lack of speed and explosiveness, but the league certainly has its share of game-changers. Here are a few of them.
Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn -- His lack of career touchdown catches is puzzling (5), but Benn remains extremely dangerous with the ball. He averaged 15.7 yards per catch last season and can gash a defense as a rusher or a return man.
Ohio State running back Brandon Saine -- Dan Herron likely will get the first shot as the Buckeyes' starter, but most fans can't wait to see a healthy Saine get more carries. Injuries have limited Saine so far in his college career, but he's an extremely explosive back who can do damage in space.
Minnesota wide receiver Troy Stoudermire -- Stoudermire excelled as a return man last fall -- he led the Big Ten with 1,083 kick return yards -- and performed well as a receiver during spring drills. Defenses have to respect his downfield speed, but they could be so occupied with Eric Decker that the sophomore will get free.
Penn State running back Stephfon Green -- It remains to be seen how Green responds from ankle surgery, but opposing defenses better not forget about him, even if Evan Royster becomes more of a featured back. Green dazzled his teammates last spring and summer and should have a more productive sophomore season after some ups and downs in 2008.
Michigan State wide receiver Blair White -- White ranked ninth in the league in receiving average despite doing almost all of his damage in the season's second half. The speedy senior averaged 15.3 yards per reception and will enter the fall in a more enhanced role.
Wisconsin wide receiver David Gilreath -- Gilreath might not be a starter this season, but his top-end speed as a receiver, rusher and return man will get him on the field. He averaged an absurd 16.8 yards per catch last fall, finishing second on the team in receiving yards (520), to go along with 11.4 yards per rush.
Purdue wide receiver Aaron Valentin -- The junior college transfer had only 11 catches last year but racked up 224 yards (20.4 yards per reception). He'll take on a much bigger role this fall as Greg Orton and Desmond Tardy depart. Keith Smith should be Purdue's top possession wideout, giving Valentin the chance to attack defenses down the field.
Penn State wide receiver Derek Moye -- Moye is a prototypical outside receiver who brings top-end speed to the mix this season. He had only three catches in 2008 but will have every chance to establish himself as Penn State's primary deep threat.
Michigan wide receiver Darryl Stonum -- Expectations will be higher for Stonum this year as he enters his second season in what should be an improved offense. Stonum averaged 12.6 yards a catch in what many described as a disappointing freshman season, but he still has the skills to be explosive.
Also, keep an eye on these freshmen with home-run ability:
- Michigan running back Vincent Smith
- Iowa running back Brandon Wegher
- Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray
- Michigan wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes
- Wisconsin wide receiver Kraig Appleton
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
These three newcomers figure to contribute right away for Wisconsin this fall.
OFFENSE -- Kraig Appleton, WR, Fr.
Wisconsin made waves on signing day by inking Appleton, who originally committed to Illinois along with teammate Terry Hawthorne. Despite some progress from the wide receivers this spring, the position remains a question mark for the Badgers, and Appleton should step in right away. He's a big target at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds and will work his way into the rotation during preseason camp. Appleton, who was a standout track athlete in high school, can stretch the field.
DEFENSE -- J.J. Watt, DE, So.
Watt has changed schools, changed positions and completely changed his body. Wisconsin should love the end result. Needing to replace three multiyear starters on the defensive line, the Badgers will lean on Watt, who can play either position up front. Watt, who started his college career playing tight end for Central Michigan, wowed the coaches and his fellow teammates during spring practice. He's exceptionally strong and picks up coaching well.
SPECIAL TEAMS -- Montee Ball, RB, Fr.
There isn't an obvious special-teams standout among Wisconsin's incoming class, but Ball could see the field here. Head coach Bret Bielema raves about the kid, but with the running back position still loaded, Ball's best chance for playing time likely will come on return and coverage units.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
In case you missed Big Ten preview day, check it out here and here. ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit also sat down with Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who says he gets e-mails from Michigan players. The countdown of the league's 25 best players begins Friday.
- Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is still mulling the fate of his son, James, a redshirt freshman center for the Hawkeyes who recently pleaded guilty to public intoxication, Marc Morehouse writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Also, Hawkeyes defensive end Jason Semmes is transferring to Miami (Ohio).
- Notre Dame remains the best option for Big Ten expansion, and The Grand Rapids Press' Steve Grinczel has an interesting plan of how to organize the divisions.
Look at from the Big Ten's point of view. Let's say the league finally softens its stance and allows Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse or West Virginia in -- hmmm, to the greatest benefit of which team located in State College, Pa., by the way?
How stupid would the Big Ten look by knocking over the domino that opens up a spot in the Big East just when Notre Dame finally says, "By jove, we outta join a league. Gee, which one has an opening?"
- A dubious distinction for Minnesota as the NCAA's APR reports came out, Dennis Brackin writes in the Star Tribune.
- Ohio State and Penn State make Dennis Dodd's post-spring top 25, while Iowa sneaks in at No. 24.
- The Big Ten needs a 12th team, and while Missouri might be an increasingly attractive option, an Eastern school would be the better move, Stltoday.com's Jeff Gordon writes.
- Illinois further solidified the quarterback position with a 2010 commitment from quarterback Chandler Whitmer.
- Despite the rumors, heralded Wisconsin incoming recruit Kraig Appleton remains on track in school, Bob Asmussen writes in The (Champaign) News-Gazette.
- Want to know where the 2010 Big Ten recruits are from? Check out this map.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Some questions and answers for you on this Good Friday/Passover.
C.J. from Philly writes: Adam, help em out here. Being a fan/alum of a Big 10 Football School is akin to being in love with a great girl who comes with the baggage of having a family you cannot stand. This conference does everything in its power to keep traditions from 70 years ago in tact at the expense of progress and what its fans want: 1. Still probably the biggest roadblock to a playoff is due to the Big 10 and its insistence of holding onto the Rose Bowl. 2. Wants all of the games to end before Thanksgiving although most other D1 teams play until December. May also be the reason that Big 10 teams struggle in the BCS since they have alonger break than most teams. 3. Now, they want to stop having night games in November even though the atmosphere at these games is electrifying. Probably due to old rich alumni who do not want to be in the cold more than anything. The Progress Train for College Football wants to leave the station yet the Big 10 keeps wanting to delay it. No wonder we get such a bad rap.
Adam Rittenberg: Ha, love the analogy, C.J., and you make some excellent points. The Big Ten tends to chain itself to tradition too often, especially when it comes to scheduling flexibility. Things do get a little better starting in 2010 with the permanent bye week, but we won't see a championship game until a 12th team is added, which is highly unlikely at this point. Though the Big Ten's marketing model shouldn't be questioned by any league, it needs to be willing to give a little, especially as its national reputation continues to struggle.
John from Washington D.C. writes: Adam, I am so sick and tired of the Big11Ten administrators who whine about national prominence while tying their own hands behind their backs. First there's the no-conference-games-after-Thanksgiving rule, which is dumber than dumb. Now there is the no-night-games-in-November rule. Really? You're saying the best conference games of the year in the best and biggest stadiums in the country won't be allowed primetime exposure? That's a great way to overcome negative press and stereotypes! The worst part is that it's us, the fans, who suffer the most. We're the ones on the frontline arguing with our friends, defending our schools and our conference against the negative national perceptions, and frankly, against our teams' poor showings recently. We all know the Big11Ten is an upper-echelon conference with elite talent playing for some of the most storied and successful programs in history, but until the administrators realize that college football of the 21st century is not college football of the 1960s we're all going to pay the price of their arrogance and failures. I don't really have a question, I guess, except how can we, as fans, get our frustrations across to the Jim Delaneys that continually make decisions that only hurt the quality and integrity of the conference?
Adam Rittenberg: Again, you make some good points here, John, and the way to air your frustrations is to write this blog (shameless self promotion). The one thing I'd point out is that the Big Ten's November prime time policy isn't exactly new, and most of the league's top games that month have kicked off at 3:30 p.m. ET or even noon on some occasions. But I agree that the no-night-games policy does take away some of the drama, especially as the Big Ten adopts a permanent bye week and more teams (Penn State, Michigan State) enter the spotlight on a regular basis. If the Big Ten continues to struggle nationally and sees leagues like the Big 12 and SEC continue to get top billing with their prime-time Saturday games, the policy could be revisited. What could hurt the Big Ten -- and we saw it last year -- is when Michigan-Ohio State isn't the premier game on the last Saturday of the conference season. Does Michigan-Ohio State always move to noon if Michigan State-Penn State takes top billing? What about if Iowa-Minnesota affects the league title race? There could be some tough decisions.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Quarterback play tops Paul Chryst's priorities list this spring, but the Wisconsin offensive coordinator will also keep close tabs on the wide receivers.
The Badgers' struggles at quarterback last fall are well documented, but neither Allan Evridge nor Dustin Sherer got much help from their wideouts. Dropped passes began surfacing in the spring game and became a common theme during preseason camp and after the real games began.
For the third consecutive season, a tight end (Garrett Graham) led the team in receiving yards, while the Badgers' wideouts accounted for only four receiving touchdowns.
The good news is everyone returns, and none of the Badgers' primary wideouts -- David Gilreath, Isaac Anderson, Maurice Moore, Nick Toon, Kyle Jefferson -- will be a senior this fall. Toss in heralded freshman Kraig Appleton, and the group should see better results.
"They've got to drop that young tag," Chryst said. "They've always been known as a group of young receivers. Well, they've got a lot of experience in games under their belt. So they've got to step up."
Graham and fellow tight end Lance Kendricks will continue to play key roles in the offense, but Chryst wants to give Wisconsin's next starting quarterback as much help as possible.
"You look at the receivers, Isaac Anderson, the Minnesota game did some good things for us, but also put the ball on the ground three times," Chryst said. "Nick Toon grew as the year went on, but didn't show up much in the early games. Kyle Jefferson may have been better as a freshman than a sophomore. David Gilreath, he's got to bring something.
"They can help the quarterback by being guys you can count on. It's exciting because we know a lot about a lot of these guys, but shoot, we've got a lot of work to do."