Illini coaches have met with Penn State players

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Illini coaches have met with Penn State players

Illinois coach Tim Beckman emphasized his eight assistant coaches did not make "a sneak attack" when they visited Penn State players who are interested in transferring from the school. Abiding by NCAA rules, Beckman said his coaches met with players who contacted the Illinois staff. The meetings took place this week at a Starbucks and another restaurant beyond the Penn State campus.
Beckman did not reveal how many players met with his staff. Penn State players will be able to transfer to other schools and retrain their eligibility after the NCAA handed down sanctions amid the schools child sex abuse scandal.
"We did not go onto their campus," Beckman said Thursday at Big Ten Football Media Day at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago. "We only talked to individuals that would be willing to meet with us. We did not go after them. They had the opportunity to come to us if they would like to come to us and speak to us."
Beckman said Penn State was aware which players Illinois would talk to, as Illini staff provided the Nittany Lions with a list of names before the visit. Illinois coaches were seen in State College, Pa., carrying bags with team logos, according to reports. Beckman said he did not make the trip. His coaches talked to players they had previous connections with through recruiting, Beckman said.
"We went there to reach out to the guys that were contacting us previously that we talked to before we went there and then gave them an opportunity to come to us," said Beckman, who replaced the fired Ron Zook, who was 34-51 in seven seasons at Illinois. "We did not go after them. We told them where we were at, and if they would like to come and talk to our coaching staff, we would be willing to speak with them off campus."
While other Big Ten coaches said Thursday they would refrain from recruiting Penn State players out of respect, Beckman said he wants to give players the opportunity if they want to transfer to Illinois.
"I didn't want it to be a big scene or anything like that, and it ended up being more of a scene than it was," Beckman said. "But everything we've done has been NCAA compliant. Penn State knew.
Penn State coach Bill OBrien said Thursday he had yet to speak with Beckman about the situation. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany sounded less than enthused about conference schools recruiting Penn State players, but he conferred with the school presidents.

"My advice to them was this is not a healthy place for us to be." Delany said. "Their response was unanimous. And that was this is not about competition between and among schools. It's about the student-athlete having a full spectrum of opportunities."

During his sessions with the media, Beckman also addressed his transition from Toledo and the Mid-American Conference, his offense and the issue of two ineligible teams (Ohio State and Penn State) in the Leaders Division.
Although Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible for the postseason, leaving Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana as the eligible teams among the Leaders, Beckman said his team still has to win games.
As for his quarterbacks, Beckman said hell put his best players on the field. He used two quarterbacks at Toledo, and he suggested the possibility of doing the same at times in the spread offense at Illinois.
Both of them are great leaders, Beckman said. Nathan Scheelhaase runs the football, and Reilly OToole is a little bit more of a thrower. But its still about the success of the team and the success of the offense, so were going to be able to play whichever one is most consistent and can move our offense down the field.
Last season, Toledo averaged 42.2 points per game under Beckman, who went 21-16 in three seasons at the MAC school. Illinois is coming off a 7-6 season. The Illini began 6-0 but lost six in a row before beating UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
"With the offense that we're installing in Champaign, it will be a dual-threat offense," Beckman said. "You'll see two running backs in the football game at times. You'll even at times see two quarterbacks in the football game with quarterback Miles Osei lining up at running back also. So, it's a commitment that our offensive staff has made to running the football, and we've got to establish the run first for us to be successful."

Janarion Grant will return to Rutgers for fifth season in 2017

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USA TODAY

Janarion Grant will return to Rutgers for fifth season in 2017

One of the most explosive players in the Big Ten will be back for the 2017 season.

Rutgers announced Tuesday that do-it-all man Janarion Grant will be back on the field for the Scarlet Knights this fall. Grant suffered a leg injury in the team's fourth game of the season and missed the last eight games of the campaign.

"Fifth year, here I come! I'm excited about what I have been able to accomplish so far, but I look forward to getting out there and competing with my teammates again," Grant said in the announcement. "I thank coach (Chris) Ash and the staff as well as my family for their support through this process. Let's make this season special. Go Knights!"

Grant is tied for the all-time NCAA lead in kick-return touchdowns with eight. He's got five kickoff-return touchdowns and three punt-return touchdowns.

This past season, Grant got off to a lightning-quick start, scoring six total touchdowns. In just four games, he totaled 210 receiving yards, 195 kickoff-return yards and a kickoff-return touchdown, 138 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns, 21 passing yards and a passing touchdown and 112 punt-return yards and a punt-return touchdown.

Grant is Rutgers' all-time leader in kickoff-return yards with 2,606, and he ranks fourth in program history in all-purpose yards with 4,251.

The Knights were offensively challenged in Ash's first season as head coach, dead last in the conference with an average of 15.7 points per game and 283.2 yards per game. Former Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill was hired earlier this offseason as the team's new offensive coordinator.

Bears challenged to replace coaches involved in three all-rookie selections

Bears challenged to replace coaches involved in three all-rookie selections

As a sign of good things to come, three Bears were selected to the NFL's all-rookie teams. But there's a negative thread running through the honors of linebacker Leonard Floyd being named to the rookie defensive team, and the selections of center Cody Whitehair and running back Jordan Howard to the rookie offensive team.
 
The concern lies not in the players or the personnel department under GM Ryan Pace that designated them for drafting. It is in the fact that the position coaches for all three rookie standouts are all gone from the staff of coach John Fox.
 
Finding talent is difficult enough. Developing it is the crucial next step in the football process, and what was evident in the rookie years of Floyd, Whitehair and Howard was that each developed into NFL-grade players with some very solid coaching.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
 
Offensive line coach Dave Magazu was not brought back, reportedly in favor of former Miami Dolphins assistant offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn, as reported by Sirius XM radio and Sporting News.
 
Stan Drayton, who coached Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott at Ohio State, then Howard this year, left for the University of Texas.

Outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt appeared to be exiting for the New York Jets, although sources report that the deal may not go through.
 
Coaches can't create talent but they can certainly foster and maximize it. Replacing the mentors of their three top rookies from arguably the best draft class since 2004 (Tommie Harris, Tank Johnson, Bernard Berrian, Nathan Vasher) now becomes a talent search in its own right.