Friday's links: Abdullah's message to young RBs & more

The storylines continue to percolate in training camps across the Big Ten as we inch closer to the start of the season. But, heck, I’m gonna race right past the opening kickoff and on to the Big Ten title game. The great David Jones of PennLive.com ponders the possibility of Northwestern playing Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game. Hey, it could happen.

We will get a preview of that on Oct. 5, when Ohio State visits Evanston for a night game. Will there ever have been a bigger game in the history of Ryan Field?

***

Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah’s advice to the young Husker running backs: Humility takes you a long way.

Abdullah waited his turn. Now, Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star says he leads a pack of running backs that includes a pair of touted true freshmen — Terrell Newby and Adam Taylor — as well as sophomore Imani Cross. It’s not necessarily easy to be patient while awaiting your chance, right, Ameer?

“It’s hard to be patient, but you have to be humble,” Abdullah told Sipple. “Those guys have been humble so far. I told them, ‘Humility takes you a long way. Because if you stay humble, you’re always going to stay hungry.’ “

***

There are questions about Illinois’ offensive line, no doubt. But the big fellas wanna show they aren’t a weak link.

The starters up front–Corey Lewis, left tackle Simon Cvijanovic, guards Ted Karras and Michael Heitz and center Alex Hill—are solid. But depth? It’s shaky.

***

Could true freshman Shane Morris be the backup quarterback for Michigan? Maybe.

The kid has nice talent. And, honestly, his competition isn’t spectacular.

Yes, there is a lot of buzz about Michigan’s young receivers, but when the Wolverines want a key play, they still look to veteran Drew Dileo.

Among his career-high 20 catches in 2012, Dileo’s standout moment came with four catches for 92 yards in a 12-10 win over Michigan State. Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press says it was an example how Dileo is almost always a mismatch from the slot receiver spot, even at 5-feet-10, 180 pounds.

“It’s a lot of room to work, the 5- to 15-yard range is what I excel at against linebackers, nickel backs or safeties, matchups like that,” Dileo told Snyder.

Dileo joins Jeremy Gallon, Joe Reynolds and Jeremy Jackson as the senior leaders among the receivers and is bringing along the younger players, including his backup, Dennis Norfleet. This could be a very good Wolverines unit. Now, the line and back need to step up.

***

Remember when linebacker Curtis Grant arrived as a five-star recruit at Ohio State? Sure, we all do. He began finally to come emerge last season. Now a junior, Grant may be primed to make a full impact.

The Buckeyes need a healthy and productive Grant. Ohio State has no senior linebackers. Other than junior Ryan Shazier, Grant is the most experienced Buckeyes linebacker, with only three starts.

***

The experience of Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson is shining through, as he’s separating himself from Mitch Leidner.

And the Gophers may have struck gold with JC linebackers Damien Wilson and De’Vondre Campbell. Listen to what Jerry Kill has to say:

“They’ve done a great job, both of them. That’s called getting lucky or hard work or whatever in recruiting. De’Vondre can bend and can run and is long, and it’s hard to block him. He’s very focused, doesn’t mess around, football’s important to him.

“Damien — athletically, physically – is a very athletically gifted 250 [pounds], so they both do what you tell them to do, and one of them [Campbell] has three years [of eligibility] left; that’s even better.”

This is great news for the Gophers, who need help—lots of help—at linebacker.

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A nice look here at five things to watch for each Big Ten team.

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Here is a good video introducing Wisconsin o-line coach T.J. Woods, who coaches the bellwether position in Madison. And it’s a position with some depth issues.

This is sorta interesting: Despite coming off three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances and having lots of promise for 2013, season ticket renewal rates are down for a second season in a row at Wisconsin.

I can’t explain it.

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Stewart Mandel of SI.com has an interesting story on the “nerd” schools: Northwestern, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Duke and Notre Dame.

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Don’t forget about Tyler O’Connor, a seemingly forgotten man in the Michigan State quarterback sweepstakes.

He looked good on our tour stop. Still, Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook will be difficult to unseat. But, you never know.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: This is too bad.

My take: He needs to be a stud.

My take: The Husker OC is always thinking. He’s one of the best.

My take: I think the kid could be special.

My take: Hey, I agree.

My take: I’m excited to see both when we visit Nebraska. The Huskers will have some nice options at running back.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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