Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, March 4, 2016

Athlon?s has ranked the Top 25 football players in the Big Ten. I know, it?s only March. But, here you go. Mind you, this is a pre-spring ranking. Can?t imagine it will change much at all in, say, July.

The No. 1 player? It?s Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett, who didn?t even begin last year as a starter. Life is funny.


I love Michigan State OT Jack Conklin. And, you should, too. The guy epitomizes what is great about sports. He?s a former walk-on who became an All-American. So, that?s why it?s neat to see an ESPN mock draft project him to go 13th overall.

Most analysts agree that Conklin will be selected on the first day of the draft on April 28 in Chicago. It's just a matter of when and by whom. Someone make a movie of this guy.


Go get your workout gear on, put in Survivor?s ?Eye of the Tiger? and check out these scenes from Penn State?s football winter workouts.

Don?t you feel bad about eating that Zinger last night?


Guess who will be back at Rutgers pro day? Gary Nova! He had a tryout with the Giants last year but didn?t stick.

"I'm just giving it another go," Nova told "I've got a new agent now. The (Parabolic) facility is awesome, so workout here and be around these guys and just give it another shot."


Are Bret Bielema and Mark Dantonio making fun of Michigan?s spring drills in Florida via Twitter?

All of this attention Jim Harbaugh is getting only validates what he is doing. Yes, his plans are working perfectly. And, Harbaugh went on the offensive, too, nuking Tennessee Butch Jones with this tweet.

Harbaugh needs his own reality TV series. Please. Make this happen. Someone.


Ohio State starts spring drills on March 8. has a good podcast that previews the action. The Buckeyes have just six starters back, so there is a lot of work to do. But, don?t weep for Urban Meyer. He has a warehouse full of four- and five-star recruits. This team still will be the pick to win the East.


What?s wrong with Iowa, which has lost four in a row? Marc Morehouse and Scott Dochterman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette discuss the issues in this podcast.

More scoring balance is needed, for one thing. And Jarrod Uthoff needs to be more aggressive. Big players have to play big in big games. It?s that simple. Look at what Yogi Ferrell did at Iowa on Tuesday. Perfect example of a star being a star in a big game.


Good read from Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star on Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong, who will be scrutinized this spring. He must continue to evolve if the Huskers want to challenge for the West title. And, cut down on the picks, Tommy.

True freshman Patrick O?Brien is on campus and competing, but Mike Riley never has begun a season with a true freshman signal-caller in his career. But, there is a first time for everything, right?
"We're going to set it up for him to get enough turns to both learn and develop - and to compete for at least a backup role," Riley said.

"Even though he's a true freshman, we're going to find ways to get him opportunities with the group. We'll see where it goes."


Interesting take from legendary Sid Hartman, who says Minnesota botched a chance to utilize Jerry Kill?s skills. Yep, I wish the parties could have worked out something. Kill is a treasure who quickly became a galvanizing force in Dinkytown. Now, he?s gone.

Hartman says maybe the athletic department and teams wouldn?t generate as many investigations as they have recently if Kill was on the staff. And maybe the school would have an easier time recruiting coaches for future Gophers openings with Kill around.


Email Tom Dienhart using the form below.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.