Big Ten: Nick Zachery

Saturday was scrimmage day around the Big Ten, as teams from State College to Minneapolis engaged in several forms of game-like simulations. Though no Big Ten team has officially held a spring game -- five are on tap Saturday -- these scrimmages are often just as important, if not more so.

Nine of the 11 Big Ten teams provided media access and/or statistics from Saturday's scrimmages. Michigan's official Web site has some video and tidbits from Saturday's 115-play closed scrimmage, and Mgoblog has a few reports as well. Iowa's official site also has some video and interviews from Saturday's scrimmage.

Here are some tidbits from the other nine scrimmages, from reports around the league:

ILLINOIS

Illinois let its quarterbacks get hit Saturday, but the offense delivered most of the damage. Nathan Scheelhaase continued to make a strong case for the starting job with a 40-yard run, a 30-yard touchdown pass to Zach Becker and a 22-yard pass to A.J. Jenkins. Jacob Charest also remains very much alive in the QB race and connected on several long passes, including a 50-yarder to Jenkins. The running game also looked good as Mikel Leshoure had a 65-yard run. Cornerback Tavon Wilson provided a defensive highlight by picking off a Scheelhaase pass. It's encouraging to see this type of progress from Illinois' offense, which lost several key pieces from 2009 and returns virtually no experience at quarterback.

INDIANA

Defense is the primary focus for IU this spring, and the unit stepped up in Saturday's scrimmage, holding the offense to only one touchdown. Defensive tackle Adam Replogle recorded two sacks and three tackles for loss, and linebacker Jeff Thomas, a junior college transfer, forced a fumble. Safety Kyle Dietrick recorded the lone interception of the scrimmage. The Hoosiers continue to see good things from freshman running back Antonio Banks, who had 42 rushing yards and a touchdown Saturday. The backup quarterback competition continued as Dusty Kiel recorded a touchdown pass and a 35-yard completion, while Edward Wright-Baker completed 8 of 10 pass attempts. Nick Zachery, who moved from safety to wide receiver just last week, had four catches for 46 yards.

MICHIGAN STATE

The Spartans' defense rallied to win the jersey scrimmage as a secondary that struggled mightily last fall saw two players, Marcus Hyde and Mitchell White, return interceptions for touchdowns. Hyde picked off starter Kirk Cousins, while White intercepted an Andrew Maxwell pass and raced 40 yards for a touchdown. Cornerback Chris L. Rucker also had a big day with an interception, a pass breakup and a tackle for loss. Michigan State's defense got a big lift from end Denzel Drone, who stuffed Edwin Baker on fourth-and-1 from the 1-yard line to seal the win. Cousins completed 19 of 30 passes for 188 yards with two touchdowns, including a 30-yarder to Keith Nichol, and two interceptions. Maxwell, who played some with the first-team offense, threw for 199 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Wide receivers Keshawn Martin (12 catches, 109 yards), Bennie Fowler (nine catches, 84 yards, 48-yard rush) and Nichol (four catches, 70 yards) stood out.

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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Seven Big Ten incoming freshmen have been named to the USA Football Junior National Team, which will compete this summer at the inaugural International Federation of American Football junior world championships.

The USA team, which features 45 players ages 19 years and younger, will compete against seven teams at the championships, held June 27-July 5 in Canton, Ohio. Players were nominated by their high school and college teams.

The Big Ten participants are:

  • Ohio State linebacker Storm Klein*
  • Ohio State offensive lineman Jack Mewhort*
  • Michigan State linebacker Chris Norman
  • Northwestern tight end John Plasencia
  • Michigan State offensive lineman Micajah Reynolds 
  • Northwestern offensive lineman Brian Smith
  • Indiana cornerback Nick Zachery
*-enrolled early

Chuck Kyle of Cleveland powerhouse St. Ignatius High School will serve as head coach for the USA team, which will face squads from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Sweden. 

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The Big Ten's first full recruiting class is complete, as Indiana just issued a news release listing its 18 signees for 2009. 

As expected, Indiana went heavily local with eight in-state prospects to go along with five from Ohio, two from both Illinois and Michigan, and one from Pennsylvania. Offensive line was the biggest recipient with four players, but Indiana also added two quarterbacks in Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker. 

Indiana lost a few commits after a 3-9 season, but the damage appears to be limited. New athletic director Fred Glass gave head coach Bill Lynch a public vote of confidence in late November after rumors had increased about negative recruiting toward the program. 

Here's the full list of incoming recruits, and here are some notes from the release:

  • Adam Replogle will join his brother, junior linebacker Tyler, on the squad next season.
  • Dimitrius Carr, Dusty Kiel, Colin Rodkey, Duwyce Wilson and Nick Zachery each reached their respective state semifinals in 2008. Zachery (2005-07) and Lawrence Barnett (2007) were both part of state championship teams in their careers. Barnett also won a basketball state title in 2007.
  • Javon Cornley's brother, Jamelle, is a senior forward on Penn State's men's basketball team. If he plays football anything like his brother on the court, Indiana will be very pleased. 
  • The eight signees from Indiana make it 46 on the IU roster, accounting for 43.8 percent of the team.
  • Seventeen of the 18 signees played at least two sports in high school. 

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