CHAMPAIGN — Tracy Abrams was hard-pressed to miss from three-point range during a quick shootaround before an open-gym session last week at Ubben Basketball Complex.
How will Lovie Smith be received at the Big Ten media kickoff? Will Jim Harbaugh get into an argument with a reporter? Which player or coach willl steal the show. For the answer to these questions or anything else on your mind, check in with our longtime college football writer.
Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Doug Lesmerises asked writers who cover the Big Ten for their preseason football picks.
No surprise, Ohio State is the choice to win the conference. Of the 39 voters, 27 projected the Buckeyes as champions.
CHAMPAIGN — When Stacey Jackson talks about the friendship between Josh Brent and her late son Jerry Brown, she often laughs. The two entered the University of Illinois at the same time, defensive players who signed on to play football for Ron Zook.
A chef at the UI, Jackson was oftentimes tasked with feeding the 300-pound behemoths.
No. 13: Washington
Coach: Chris Petersen
2015 record: 7-6
Projected 2016 record: 10-2
Circle the date: Oct. 8 at Oregon
Bowl trip: Cotton
PAXTON — Others will look at wins against quality programs like Bismarck-Henning and South Newton (Ind.) in the first two weeks of last year’s football season, Paxton-Buckley-Loda coach Jeff Graham knows, as turning points for his program.
Those wins showed that a team that hadn’t won more than five games in a season since 2002 could hang with some of the best in the area.
Elgin Larkin’s Christian Negron
Why he’s a fit at Illinois
Players who do one or two things really well can be a fit, in large or small doses, on any roster. Negron is known for his hustle and rebounding. That’s a start.
DETROIT — Illinois’ recruiting focus in the Class of 2018 — and in 2019 — is two-pronged: point guards and power forwards. The Illini added to the list of 2018 targets in the latter group with an offer to Detroit Henry Ford Academy’s Trevion Williams late Wednesday.
Lovie Smith is bullish on the Illini, and the folks in Illini Nation love Lovie.
In football discussions, he’s the hottest thing in town. And when he talks privately, he lauds the NFL potential of his defensive linemen and foresees great possibilities in the first six games (four home dates, and trips to Nebraska and Rutgers before, ugh, Michigan).