NCF Nation: Jack Simmons
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The season is less than two weeks away and several Big Ten teams look readier than others. I'll be heading to Bloomington on Wednesday to spend some time with Bill Lynch and the Hoosiers before flying to Columbus on Friday to hang with Beanie Wells and the Ohio State Buckeyes. The blog also will feature interviews with head coaches Tim Brewster, Mark Dantonio and hopefully Kirk Ferentz, so check back.
A bit of a light day around the league, but here are the links:
- Decision-making is no longer a problem for Illinois quarterback Juice Williams, who performed well in Saturday's scrimmage, Mark Tupper writes. Continued growth this fall hinges on second- and third-year players, Shannon Shelton writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- A few notes from Indiana's Saturday scrimmage, including some big hits from Florida transfer Jerimy Finch, who awaits a decision from the NCAA on whether he can play this season.
- Iowa defensive tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul are different breeds, but they anchor the Hawkeyes defense after playing alongside each other for three years, Andy Hamilton writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. The Hawkeyes are looking for more consistency on special teams.
- Michigan held its media day on Sunday, and freshmen running backs Sam McGuffie and Michael Shaw were popular men, Mark Snyder writes in the Detroit Free Press. Both backs are getting a long look as veterans Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown sit out with mild injuries. Coach Rich Rodriguez might use as many as 10 freshmen in the season opener as Michigan tries to answer numerous questions on offense, Bob Wojnowski writes in The Detroit News. The quarterback competition remains too close to call, John Heuser writes in The Ann Arbor News.
- After struggling in crunch time last season, Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer is simulating pressure situations in practice, Eric Lacy writes in The Detroit News. Hoyer has set the bar high for the season following so many near misses in 2007, Mike Lucas writes in The Capital Times.
- Minnesota tight end Jack Simmons is healthy and hopes to continue his family's legacy on the gridiron, Kent Youngblood writes in the Star Tribune. Watch out for another Gophers' legacy, as cornerback Marcus Sherels follows his big brother.
- Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher looks to be a better leader by making better decisions in the passing game, Shannon Ryan writes in the Chicago Tribune.
- Ohio State's offensive line stayed remarkably healthy last fall, but depth from a promising group of freshmen could loom large this year, Jason Lloyd writes in The Morning Journal. Fullback isn't a featured position in Ohio State's offense, but freshman Jermil Martin could be an asset in the backfield, Doug Lesmerises writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- Running back Stephfon Green gets all the attention at Penn State, but don't forget about projected starter Evan Royster, whose smooth and powerful running style has impressed teammates, Rich Scarcella writes in the Reading Eagle.
- This could be trouble for Purdue, as running back Jaycen Taylor suffered a right leg injury in Saturday's scrimmage, WLFI-TV reports. Taylor showed his toughness last season by returning from a broken arm in just four weeks, but a leg injury is more significant.
- Wisconsin safety Jay Valai is eyeing a career in sports broadcasting, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Despite losing projected starter Aaron Henry to another knee injury, the Badgers' cornerbacks are looking fine, Jim Polzin writes in The Capital Times.