Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 24, 2016

Good to see Michigan State promoting Denzel Valentine for postseason honors by sending out a trinket. And, it?s a perfect embodiment of the versatile Valentine: a multi-purpose tool that includes a small knife, flashlight and bottle opener. It is green and includes Valentine's name, number, and the Spartans' logo.

The guy was a stud last night in the win at OSU and has to be the fav to be national player of the year.


Break up the Golden Gophers! That?s two wins in a row after downing Rutgers last night.


As for the Scarlet Knights ? well, they aren?t good. In fact, RU may be historically bad.


Looks like Michigan got a special player in DE/LB Carlo Kemp, who is impressing as an early enrollee.

"Carlo Kemp, if I had to say one or pick a winner (out of the early enrollees so far), Carlo Kemp (would be it)," Jim Harbaugh said recently to "He seems like he's been here a couple years."

Kemp said earlier this month that he'll start out working as a strong-side linebacker in coordinator Don Brown's new defense, but he also has the versatility to play as a lineman. Physically and mentally, Kemp has proven to be a slight cut above the rest, Harbaugh says.


Few players will be scrutinized more in the NFL Combine than Penn State?s Christian Hackenberg. And ex-NFL G.M. Ernie Accorsi says he can impress more in interviews than in drills.

"The quarterback drills are so hard," Accorsi told "Because they run receivers by you and every receiver is different. You haven't played with them. You have to lead them and some of them have speed, some of them don't. If they drop the ball, you look bad.

"The most important thing about a quarterback is his accuracy and I don't know how you can evaluate that [at the combine]. It's really hard. I always felt, with a quarterback, the audition is on tape."

The tape is ALL that matters in the evaluation of EVERY player. The Combine is laughable on many levels and not necessary. But, I digress ?

Hackenberg?s footage isn?t sparkling. But, David Jones of astutely points out that he can impress in interviews, polishing an image that at times made you wonder about his maturity. He can impress with his skills at his pro day.

"You only really have two chances to talk to these guys - at the Combine and on their pro day. You can't talk to them during their season. You can't talk to them during practice. This is the only shot you get,? said Accorsi.

"You're getting an idea of how quick their minds are, their character and sincerity. You're looking for a leader. You're looking for a take-charge guy."


Still don?t know new Rutgers coach Chris Ash? has 10 factoids for you.

I like this one: He is from Ottumwa, Iowa, home of Radar O?Reilly! Who is ?Radar O?Reilly,? kids? Ask your parents.


Iowa had a players-only meet on Saturday led by the seniors. And, they say everything is fine.

I wonder if the Hawkeyes have the juice to finish this sprint as Big Ten champs. If they win their final four games, notes, they?ll win the school?s first outright Big Ten regular-season championship since 1970. If they go 3-1, as long as one of those wins is March 1 against Indiana, they're guaranteed to at least share a Big Ten crown.

?I don?t really want to get into our team meeting,? Jarrod Uthoff said. ?We?re fine. We?re absolutely fine. We?re looking forward to Wednesday. We can?t wait. We?re itching to get out there and compete.?


Lee Barfknecht of says better recruiting is needed for Nebraska hoops to take a step forward.

Get this: NU has never won an outright league title in 100 years of competition. It has been 66 years since the program earned a share of a title. Barfknecht says Nebraska has improved this season. But making a move out of the bottom third doesn?t happen until Tim Miles lands a legitimate interior defender who is a shot-blocking threat. You cannot win consistently in the Big Ten without one. More than one big man would be better.


Lots of holes on Ohio State?s defense. has the players most ready to replace eight starters on defense. Six of the lost starters may be picked in the first three rounds on the NFL draft.

Talk about big shoes to fill.


Spring football is underway at Northwestern. And backup QB Matt Alviti is out with injury.

Alviti, who had hip surgery, is expected to be back to full health in June or July. Pat Fitzgerald hinted that once Alviti recovers from the hip procedure, he will be healthier than he ever has been in his career at Northwestern. Alviti was a former four-star recruit, but lost an offseason quarterback battle to Clayton Thorson in 2015. He will be expected to back up Thorson in 2016.


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