What would it be like to move to a new country, play one year of high school football, and then go on to become one of the greatest placekickers in NFL history? That’s exactly what happened with former Michigan State All-American kicker Morten Andersen. I recently spoke with Andersen and asked him to share some of his best, untold stories during his playing days at Michigan State. Andersen enjoyed a standout collegiate career as the Spartans’ starting kicker from 1978 to 1981. He was a consensus All-American during his senior season and still holds the record for the longest field-goal
Travel across the country for an NBA pre-draft workout, or walk down the stage and receive your college diploma? That’s the dilemma former Northwestern basketball standout John Shurna faced following his senior year. I recently spoke with Shurna over the phone as he shared that story and others in my latest installment of “Big Ten Tales.” Shurna had an exceptional collegiate career as a four-year starter for the Northwestern Wildcats from 2008-12. The 6-foot-9 forward was a three-time All-Big Ten Conference Selection and was named an honorable mention All-American in 2012 by the Associated Press. Shurna closed out his career
Have you heard the story about the time former Michigan basketball player Zack Novak convinced everyone at a party that he was Denard Robinson? I recently spoke with Novak by phone to hear this story and others as the Michigan graduate now plays professional basketball in the Netherlands. After a standout collegiate career as a four-year Wolverines starter from 2008-12, Novak finished first all-time in minutes played at Michigan and third all-time in both career games (134) and starts (122). He also became the 28th Michigan player to ever score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds in a career. After school, Novak signed
What’s the best way to settle a friendly argument over what type of music to play in the locker room? For former Ohio State basketball star Scoonie Penn and his Buckeye teammates, the solution was wrestling. I met Penn in the Big Ten Network studio to hear that story and others from his Ohio State playing days for my latest Big Ten Tales. After transferring to Ohio State from Boston College after the 1997 season, Penn enjoyed two outstanding years under Buckeyes coach Jim O’Brien. The 5-foot-11 point guard was honored as the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year
Over the past 15 years, Purdue has developed a “Den of Defensive Ends” by producing an outstanding group of defensive ends that include nine future NFL players. That tradition started with Rosevelt Colvin, who racked up a school-record 35 sacks in his four years at Purdue. Drafted by Chicago in the fourth round of the 1999 NFL Draft, Colvin spent four seasons with the Bears and six more with the New England Patriots, where he was part of a team that won two straight Super Bowls. Colvin will always be remembered as one of Purdue’s greatest defensive players, but his
I remember watching Brian Butch score, rebound, and defend in the 2003 McDonald’s All-American Game and he looked exactly like a kid that would thrive in Bo Ryan’s offensive system at Wisconsin. This was a high school all-star game that featured LeBron James, Chris Paul, Luol Deng and Charlie Villanueva. And Butch, a 6-foot-11 standout from Appleton, Wisconsin, held his own. Butch was just months away from enrolling at Wisconsin, an experience that would ultimately change his life. Back then, he was was the perfect recruit, the kind of driven player every college coach dreams of having on their team.
Move on to the real world or continue to play college sports? That’s the dilemma former Gopher standout Derek Rackley faced after receiving his undergraduate degree from Minnesota. I sat down one-on-one with Rackley earlier this month and asked him to share his best story from his playing days under former head coach and current BTN analyst, Glen Mason. After redshirting his freshman season, Rackley went on to become a four-year starter at long snapper for the Gophers from 1996-1999. He now serves as an in-game and studio analyst at the Big Ten Network. Rackley regularly appears on BTN’s “Big
What was it like playing for Nick Saban at Michigan State before his days coaching in the NFL and SEC? Former Michigan State quarterback Tony Banks experienced that firsthand during his senior season with the Spartans. I sat down with Banks at the Big Ten Network after he finished shooting a segment of “BTN Football Report” and asked him to tell me some of his best memories from his playing days at Michigan State in my latest installment of “Big Ten Tales.” Banks was a standout athlete growing up and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins out of high school.
What would it be like to grow up in sunny Florida and then move across the country to play college football in the Midwest? Former Northwestern standout Chris Martin knows a thing or two about that. I sat down with Martin at the Big Ten Network studio here in Chicago and asked him to tell me a few of his best untold stories during his collegiate playing days at Northwestern. After a memorable four years spent in Evanston, Martin went on to play for the Chicago Bears and is now a lead football analyst for the Big Ten Network. In
I remember when Antwaan Randle El first hit the college football scene back in 1998 as an undersized quarterback at Indiana, a school known more for basketball than football. Randle El wasn’t a traditional college pocket quarterback, but instead he could throw, run and catch. I talked to Randle El about his Indiana days in my latest installment of “Big Ten Tales.” Randle El passed for more than 1,700 yards and rushed for more than 800 yards that first season on the way to becoming the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 1998. When his collegiate career was over,