Yes, the national championship will be decided tonight in New Orleans. But spring football is in full bloom across Big Ten country. And here are some of the bigger things scribes are writing about on this glorious Monday.
Davis is ready: Iowa receiver Keenan Davis is ready to play a leading role, writes Ryan Suchomel of the Iowa City Press-Citizen. That’s good, because Davis will need to be a leader with the departure of Marvin McNutt, who may have been the best wideout in Hawkeye history. That’s all. Davis is coming off a strong year that saw him grab 50 passes for 713 yards. Not bad, but …
“He needs to take that next step,” said Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. “He’s capable. He did a lot of good things last year, so now it’s a chance to build on what he got started.”
Choi’s amazing story: From South Korea, to Lincoln Christian High School, to Nebraska walk-on, to key cog on the offensive line, Seung Hoon Choi is a remarkable story. Anchoring left guard this spring, Choi’s parents still live in Seoul, South Korea, receiving CDs of his games. But they came to see two of his games last season.
“Really, the icing on the cake, I think for him and even myself, was to see his parents here and how excited they were and how excited he was,” assistant offensive line coach John Garrison, told Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star.
Choi is part of a line that’s in flux. The center (Mike Caputo) and both tackles (Marcel Jones and Yoshi Hardrick) are gone. Star running back Rex Burkhead needs escorts.
O’Brien’s rise: Andy Baggot of the Wisconsin State Journal marvels at the ability of Maryland transfer quarterback Danny O’Brien’s to graduate in three years.
I’ll admit: It’s an impressive feat for just a normal student to graduate in four years. But for a football player—who has many more time restrictions and demands—to graduate in THREE years? Stunning. The guy must be an Einstein, right?
“Nothing special, just work and focus,” says O’Brien. “No super powers.”
If O’Brien picks up the Badger offense as quickly, Wisconsin will be in good shape. Heck, let’s just go ahead and say it: The Badgers will be the heavy favorite to win the Leaders Division for a second year in a row.
New QB in town: Hopes are high for new Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell as he assumes command from Kirk Cousins, says Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State Journal.
Maxwell has all the requisite skills to excel, but the junior hasn’t had to deal to two intangibles: pressure and expectations.
“We go get ice cream and people will come up and shake my hand. Or I was at the airport and some guy came up and shook my hand, told me good luck,” Maxwell said. “That’s something I haven’t had to deal with before and that’s something that’s gonna continue. I was out to dinner with Kirk and a couple of the guys (last week) and we were at the restaurant for an hour. He must have gotten stopped six times for pictures and autographs and people just talking to him. So it’s just a different world.”
Maxwell looks up for the job. He just needs to find some capable targets among Tony Lippett, Bennie Fowler and tight end Dion Sims. It also would help if Tennessee transfer receiver DeAnthony Arnett is granted a waiver by the NCAA to play this fall.
Leaner Spartan: Speaking of the Spartans, stud defensive end Williams Gholston is working on his body and fundamentals, says Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.
Gholston’s made some noise last season, when he had five sacks and 70 tackles en route to earning second-team All-Big Ten accolades. But now, fit and trim, the junior could be even better. And that’s scary.
“I got a little bigger,” said Gholston, who weighs 278. “Been working out, lost fat, gained muscle.”
Adds defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi: “He’s talking about his body, I’m talking about fundamentals. But he looks good, anyways.”
Moving story: Looking for a little inspiration on your Monday to get your motivated? Check out this piece by Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star on Indiana defensive lineman Nick Sliger.
The senior has worked through a learning disability that dates to grade school to be on track to earn a degree by the end of summer and subsequently enroll in grad school in the fall.
“It’s really unbelievable when you consider how far he has had to come,” said Bruce Sliger, Nick’s dad. “But Nick deserves the credit. He put in the work necessary in high school and has done well since getting to college.”
My take: Meyer’s attacks always have been about speed. But being quick won’t matter unless some pass catchers emerge this spring for the Buckeye attack.
My take: The power to decide how many bowls there are—and what it takes to qualify—would be up to leagues. I don’t see how much would change with conferences overseeing bowls instead of the NCAA. If anything, the leagues will want to get as many of their teams in bowls as possible, so I don’t see the bowl system—currently at 35—contracting with this move. And I think it should.
Tom Dienhart is a senior writer for BTN.com and will post his Daily Links on weekdays. You can subscribe to the Daily Links RSS here, find Dienhart’s work at www.btn.com/tomdienhart, follow him on Twitter at @BTNTomDienhart, send a question to his weekly mailbag here, and click here to subscribe to his overall RSS feed.