Big Ten: Reggie Ellis

Big Ten lunch links

May, 29, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

You know ... there's like a butt-load of gangs at this school. This one gang kept wanting me to join because I'm pretty good with a bo-staff. 

  • Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster agrees with Penn State's Joe Paterno that the Big Ten needs to expand with an Eastern team, preferably Rutgers, Steve Politi writes in the Star-Ledger. 
"I am definitely for the addition of another team, and it would be great to bring in a team from the Eastern market," Brewster said. "I certainly believe Rutgers is a tremendous candidate, one that obviously makes sense."
  • Illinois defensive lineman Reggie Ellis, a heralded 2008 recruit, is transferring from the program, Bob Asmussen writes in The (Champaign) News-Gazette.
  • Paterno thinks Penn State needs to develop a few more offensive linemen and defensive backs to mount a serious national title run in 2009, Bob Flounders writes in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News. 
  • How would LeBron James have looked in Scarlet and Gray? Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel can only wonder, Bob Hunter writes in The Columbus Dispatch.  
  • Wisconsin joins Ohio State and Michigan as the latest Big Ten school to stop printing media guides, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus writes in his blog. 
  • Murray Warmath will serve as Minnesota's honorary coach alongside five honorary captains when the team opens TCF Bank Stadium on Sept. 12, Marcus Fuller writes in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. 

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Get ready to hear the name Mike Locksley a lot in the coming weeks and months.

The Illinois offensive coordinator likely will be in the mix for several head-coaching jobs that have already come open or will in the near future. Locksley's recruiting exploits in the Washington, D.C. area are well documented -- he landed Arrelious Benn, Vontae Davis and Reggie Ellis, among others -- and his offense leads the Big Ten in passing (272.3 ypg) and ranks 28th nationally in scoring (33 ppg) this season.

Locksley already has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the vacancy at Tennessee. He received a raise and a contract extension through 2012 after Illinois reached the Rose Bowl, but more suitors will be after him soon.

"I don't think there's any question Locksley's going to get a [head-coaching] job," Illini head coach Ron Zook said today. "That's just something we all expect and we all look forward to celebrating with him. Do I want to lose him? No, I don't want to lose him, but it makes you feel good knowing you've got a guy the caliber of Locks. He deserves that opportunity."

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

RANTOUL, Ill. -- The two teenage girls on lifeguard duty Wednesday at the Hap Parker Family Aquatic Center stood absolutely no chance.

As approximately 100 half-naked Illinois football players converged on the water park just northwest of the team's practice fields, the poor souls in charge of policing the facility could only stand aside. Think of a kicker and a punter trying to bust a wedge of defensive tackles.

I had heard about Illinois' annual water park outing at Big Ten media days from senior linebacker Brit Miller, who vowed to reclaim his title in the belly-flop competition this summer. The Camp Rantoul tradition typically takes place later this month, but by a stroke of luck, I was here on the big day.

I arrived at the park just in time to see 30-40 players zoom down a water slide in rapid-fire fashion. The wait time between slides was, oh, 1.5 seconds. It was like a traffic jam of bison, except 40 feet in the sky. The players went to the park immediately after practice, and freshman defensive end Reggie Ellis went down the slide with his ankles still taped.

The assistant coaches sat pool-side, praying for no injuries. Some surely held their breath as starting quarterback Juice Williams went down the slide head first. Several players used props during their slides -- the lifeguard's rescue tube, a volleyball -- but kicker Matt Eller got the prize for degree of difficulty, going down on a makeshift surfboard. Kickers.

An assistant told Eller not to repeat the surf slide, but moments later co-defensive coordinator Dan Disch shouted, "Eller! I didn't get to see it! Do it again!"

Miller allegedly did a belly-flop, though I never saw it. He did execute a nice backflip in the diving pool adjacent to the slides. And he wore sunglasses in the pool, which was cool. The best dive came from wide receiver Chris Duvalt, who did a front one-and-a-half flip -- with his clothes on.

Several players tried another water slide, a spiral-looking thing, but they stopped on one of the turns and had to walk down. Pretty funny.

I watched most of the festivities with head coach Ron Zook, who surprisingly didn't seem too concerned about injuries. "We've got a bunch of knuckleheads, but they're good kids," he said.

The water park trip capped an entertaining day with the Illini. Zook told me the setup at Camp Rantoul -- located about 15 miles from Illinois' campus -- functions better than any of the NFL training camps he attended while serving as an assistant with the Saints, Chiefs and Steelers.

It's too bad more college teams don't train off campus. Then again, our water parks and lifeguards might be better off.