Big Ten links: 2016 NFL Draft notes, Greg Oden's new role & more

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten links: 2016 NFL Draft notes, Greg Oden's new role & more

The NFL draft starts on Thursday. And, know this: Michigan State’s Connor Cook won’t be intimidated, according to Mark Dantonio.

“Connor will not be intimidated in the NFL — he won’t,” Dantonio said following the team’s banquet. “When you play on the big stages we’ve played on, the next stage is just another stage.
“Connor makes plays, he’s got great touch on the ball, he throws guys open, he has good arm strength and he studies. No one is perfect, but I think he’s resilient.”

How high will Cook be picked? Second round? Third round? Later?

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More draft: The Minneapolis Star Tribune takes a look at the Gophers who could be drafted. DBs Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Antonio Johnson and Eric Murray are prime guys to watch. I also like LB De’Vondre Campbell. This program has had some good defensive talent.

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Greg Oden? A student manager for Ohio State. Yep.

Cleveland.com notes that Oden is working as a student manager while he takes classes at Ohio State this summer. That manager title was officially confirmed by the school this week. Before that the plan was for Oden to spend some time with the team when he could, as he has over the years since becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft in 2007. Now he has the manager title and all that comes with it.

“Just as long as he can get my coffee on time, make sure that things are set up for practice,” Thad Matta joked.

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Last offseason, Rutgers saw several players get in trouble. New coach Chris Ash wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again as the Scarlet Knights head to the offseason. It’s all about trying to change the culture.

“We talk about discipline,” Ash said. “A lot of it is anticipation. It’s a Saturday night after a spring football game, there’s a lot of things going on campus, there’s a lot of opportunity to find bad spots. We educate the guys constantly on making good decisions and hanging out with the right people and representing the football team and the university the way we want them to represent it.”

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Chad Leistikow of HawkCentral.com says the next three months will shape Iowa football’s fate in 2016. QB C.J. Beathard and LB Josey Jewell look like good leaders. And, they need to be good leaders for a program that changed its culture last year.

Said Jewell: “Just the small things, doing everything right — trying to do everything right — on and off the field,” Jewell explained, “and just showing the younger guys sometimes how to do things.”

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A good look at new Penn State DC Brent Pry from Pennlive.com. He has big shoes to fill with Bob Shoop off to Tennessee. Pry’s timing seems to be perfect for this big move.

This isn’t his first coordinator gig, as he ran Louisiana-Lafayette’s defense before getting fired.

“I was young, I was a first-time coordinator; I tried to do everything under the sun that I thought was good about good defense, and it was too much,” Pry said last week. “It was a little bit more about scheme and less about just being a good defense, and not …”

A big key for this defense will be how well the line develops. Some key guys are gone.

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Is Anthony Walker the best linebacker ever at NU?

“I don’t usually make statements (like this), but I think he’s got the opportunity to be the best we’ve ever had here,” Pat Fitzgerald said. “And we’ve had some pretty good linebackers over the years.”

Interesting. This coming from a guy who currently holds the title of “best Wildcat linebacker ever.”

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Michigan’ secondary has an elite player in corner Jourdan Lewis, a true shut-down guy. And, the Wolverines’ unit overall could be boffo—especially the line.

Nick Baumgardner has the projected depth chart of the secondary:

CB: 1. Jourdan Lewis, 2. David Long/Lavert Hill
CB: 1. Channing Stribling, 2. Jeremy Clark
SS: 1. Dymonte Thomas, 2. Tyree Kinnel
FS: 1. Delano Hill, 2. Brandon Watson

Imagine if Jabrill Peppers was still in the secondary? Exactly.

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Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

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, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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