Big Ten links: Michigan QB race, NBA draft notes & more

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten links: Michigan QB race, NBA draft notes & more

The Michigan QB race is one of the most watched in the nation. And Wilton Speight believes he closed spring drills on top of the depth chart.

He may be right. But, will he stay there? I think John O’Korn is still the guy to watch. Why? He has more upside.

“You certainly can’t fake the amount of work you put in during the offseason,” O’Korn said recently to Mlive.com. “I’d echo that, (Harbaugh will) find out and we’ll all find out. We’ve all been here together, but you’ll find out Aug. 8 who put in the extra work and who was here at 6 a.m. and who was here the latest. Who grabbed a guy in the middle of the afternoon when they had a few hours to get some extra work in.

“I think that’ll all be very evident.”

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Nice story on James Franklin and his daughters. I wonder if Franklin is as pumped and excited at home as he is at the office. You know he is.

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Dan Duggan of NJ.com looks at how good RBs Robert Martin and Josh Hicks were last year.

While Martin and Hicks don’t form a traditional thunder-and-lightning duo — both have a mix of speed and power — Duggan notes that the stats show there is no debate over who is the team’s best short-yardage back. Hicks was the second-best back in the Big Ten in converting on third-and-short (3 yards or less). Hicks went 9-for-10 in such situations last season, only being stopped for no gain once, against Wisconsin.

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If Iowa’s offense is going to get on track in 2016, LeShun Daniels needs to excel.

In April, RB coach Chris White said he sees Daniels as wearing opponents down like Shonn Greene once did for Iowa. That is big praise. Consider: All Greene did in 2008 was set an Iowa rushing record and win the Doak Walker Award. The key for Daniels: Staying healthy, which has been an issue.

“No one trains harder than LeShun. No one takes better care of his body than LeShun, I can tell you that right now,” White told Chad Leistikow of HawkCentral.com. “I just hope he has a healthy season. And we’ll see how good he is.”

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The Champaign News-Gazette is counting down the Top 50 Illinois football players of 2016. Follow along here. Who do you think will be No. 1?

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InsideNU.com is doing a similar countdown of the Wildcats’ most important players. Anthony Walker has to be No. 1, right?

No. 7? Garrett Dickerson, who is primed to take over at superback from the great Dan Vitale. As this story points out, Clayton Thorson needs a big and effective target over the middle of the field, and Dickerson, who caught just 16 passes combined in his freshman and sophomore campaigns, can be that guy. Northwestern needs him to be that guy who can live up to the high expectations that follow a top recruit.

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The NBA draft is Thursday. So, where could former Purdue big man A.J. Hammons go? Most likely late in the first round or early in the second round.

But questions about maturity and commitment may scare teams.

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Prospects for Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis and Denzel Valentine are better than Hammons. In fact, each has been invited to be in the green room on draft night.

Each is a lock to go in the first round. You know Valentine is gonna be a good pro. And years from now, people will wonder how he didn’t get picked in the lottery.

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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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