Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
As we should see in next month’s NFL draft, the Big Ten is losing some serious talent. From the offensive side of the ball to the defensive side, there are plenty of All-Big Ten honorees and superlative winners to replace. Which NFL-bound players will be missed the most? See my top candidates, listed in alphabetical order, in this post.
According to reports, former Michigan basketball player Jamal Crawford has won his second NBA Sixth Man of the Year. Crawford, who spent one season at Michigan, averaged 18.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.9 steals and 2.3 3-pointers to help the Clippers earn the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. Crawford also won the prestigious award in 2010.
Remember, not so long ago, when Purdue was deemed the name “The Den of Defensive Ends” for producing a massive amount of top-notch defensive ends who went on to play in the NFL? Names like Rosevelt Colvin, Chike Okeafor, Shaun Phillips and Anthony Spencer struck fear in opposing Big Ten quarterbacks throughout the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
Eric Decker is no stranger to being in front of the camera. He’s been on your TV since he starred at Minnesota, and his marketability has only soared since he left the Gophers. First, he became a favorite receiver of Peyton Manning, then he became a reality star, and now he’s moved on to the New York Jets, which provides him with even more opportunities. Like, chip commercials. See Decker in a pair of new Ruffles ads in this post.
The Big Ten has churned out plenty of successful NFL football players over the years. Names like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Charles Woodson top the list of Big Ten football icons. But what about recent Big Ten stars who have made a splash in the NFL? Here is a list of my top 10 Big Ten draft picks over the past five years, counting down from No. 10 to No. 1. The criteria included a combination of on-field production, potential and exceptions based on where they were drafted. I state my case for each one.
Fourteen former Big Ten stars are listed on 2014 NBA playoff rosters. Ohio State paces the conference with four players: Mike Conley, Kosta Koufos, Greg Oden and Evan Turner. In all, six Big Ten schools are represented. The team with the most Big Ten products? That would be Memphis, which features the aforementioned Conley and Koufos and Jon Leuer and Zach Randolph.
We all have professional athletes who we have looked up to at one point or another. Well, former Wisconsin star J.J. Watt took that to a whole new level by posting the following video to his Instagram account.
Rutgers product Jamaal Westerman has played for five teams in his five NFL seasons. Looking to catch on with a another team this offseason, Westerman is turning some heads with a piece of equipment. More specifically, his Darth Vader-esque elevation training mask.
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
There was no shortage of Wisconsin royalty at the Badgers’ national semifinal game vs. Kentucky on Saturday night in Arlington, Texas. NFL stars J.J. Watt and Russell Wilson were there, and so was 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball, among others. Unlike his former Wisconsin teammates and current NFL rivals, Ball was there in costume – in what looked like either a frog or alligator suit.
There was some serious talent and royalty on the sideline Saturday afternoon at the Michigan spring game. Heisman winners Desmond Howard (1991) and Charles Woodson (1997) were at Michigan Stadium to get a sneak peek at the 2014 Wolverines. Our Lisa Byington caught up with both during the action to see their thoughts on what they were seeing.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Rodney Williams made a living out of destroying rims during his Minnesota career. It’s good to know the high-flyer is still up to his old tricks. Williams, a member of the Delaware 87ers of the NBA D-League, soared for a powerful one-handed dunk Friday night that was featured on the league’s YouTube channel. Check out the dunk in this post.
Russell Wilson earned quite a reputation during his standout senior season at Wisconsin. Now, fresh off a Super Bowl Championship, Wilson has become one of the most popular athletes on the planet.
How did former Ohio State star Nick Swisher celebrate his first home run of the 2014 season? With an O-H-I-O after crossing home plate, obviously. Swisher drilled the homer in Cleveland’s 7-2 home win over Minnesota on Friday, and he finished the game 2-for-5 with three RBI. Watch Swisher form O-H-I-O and see a photo of it in this post.
With Wisconsin set to play in the Sweet 16 tonight, this week’s Throwback Thursday Q&A shines the spotlight on Mike Bruesewitz. Bruesewitz, who is in his rookie pro season with Hapoel Jerusalem of the Israeli Winners League, averaged 4.6 points, four rebounds and 1.2 steals during his Wisconsin career (2009-2013).
Michigan basketball fans will never forget that memorable shot Trey Burke hit in the last year’s NCAA Tournament win over Kansas in the Sweet 16.
Ohio State sophomore Amedeo Della Valle announced Saturday that he is leaving the Buckeyes to pursue a professional career in Europe. Della Valle averaged four points and 1.8 rebounds in 33 games this season. He did score double figures in six games, including 12 in Ohio State’s comeback win over Nebraska in the Big Ten tourney. Read Della Valle’s message about the decision in this post.
Ohio State invaded Evan Turner’s new home, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Thursday for the Big Ten tournament. Turner, who was traded to the Pacers at the NBA trade deadline, and the rest of his teammates were around the arena for much of the first session Thursday. That meant the former Ohio State star and 2010 national player of the year was able to meet up with Thad Matta.
Michigan officially celebrated its Big Ten title after Saturday’s 84-80 Senior Night victory over Indiana. The Wolverines clinched the outright title, their first since 1986, in Tuesday’s rout at Illinois. On Saturday night, a special guest joined the festivities at Crisler Center. That would be Charles Woodson, the 1997 Heisman Trophy winner, who just so happened to photobomb the team picture.
Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
The way Le’Veon Bell hurdled defenders during his final season at Michigan State, it should come as no surprise the Pittsburgh Steelers running back can dunk with absolute ease. Bell, the 2012 Big Ten rushing leader, recently posted a video of himself putting on a personal dunk contest to his Instagram account. It was an impressive showcase. Watch his dunks and hurdling runs in this post.
Former Wisconsin star and current Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is without question one of the most intimidating Big Ten players in recent memory. But this post-workout video, posted by Watt on his Instagram account, takes the whole “intimidation factor” to another new level.
What did the dog of former Michigan State goalie (1999-2001) and current Buffalo Sabre Ryan Miller do while his owner was minding the net for Team USA in Sochi? He toured Miller’s campus and visited all of the top spots, of course. See pictures of Miller’s french bulldog Puck in front of Magic’s statue and in the net at Munn Ice Arena, plus so much more, in this post.
The NFL Scouting Combine is underway at Lucas Oil Stadium, which means former Big Ten players are busy trying to improve their pro stocks before the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8-10. BTN analysts Howard Griffith and Russ Lande are in Indianapolis to report on all of the familiar names. Watch our interviews with Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman and Michigan State’s Max Bullough in this post.
Tom Izzo tore into Russell Byrd during Sunday afternoon’s loss to rival Michigan. College basketball analyst and BTN contributor Seth Davis noticed it and tweeted it. Problem is, he was thinking about a former Big Ten Byrd, the Purdue one, and tweeted “D.J Byrd.” Twitter being what it is, the former Boiler responded to Davis – all the way from Germany.
Former Ohio State standout Evan Turner was acquired by the Indiana Pacers on Thursday in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, and Turner’s arrival in Indianapolis will surely bring back some memories. The fourth-year small forward sank an unforgettable shot against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals in 2010. The Pacers play in that same arena – Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Former Nebraska forward Brandon Ubel experienced a lot during his time as a Husker. Not only did Nebraska move from the Big 12 to the Big Ten midway through his career, he played his final season for Tim Miles after spending the first three years under Doc Sadler. As a result, Ubel has an interesting perspective on Nebraska’s sooner-than-expected turnaround season. See my Twitter Q&A with him in this post.