Chicago Sun-Times
with Tina Akouris

June 2012 Archives

Northwestern grad Matt Grevers swims into history

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I remember when Matt Grevers was a senior at Lake Forest High School and I covered the boys state swimming championships. Everyone at the time knew Grevers was special and was going to go on to big things at Northwestern and beyond; he just had that aura around him and we all picked up on it then. It was always just a matter of time when he would do these wonderful things in swimming, not an issue of if he would.

Wednesday night he proved again why we all thought he would be one of the country's great swimmers. Grevers qualified for his second Olympic Games in the 100-meter backstroke at the Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Neb. But -- since this is Grevers we're talking about here -- the 2007 NU graduate qualified in 52.08 seconds, the second-fastest time in swimming history. The current world record is 51.94, set on July 8, 2009 by American Aaron Peirsol.

Kyle Prater still playing the waiting game

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Northwestern transfer Kyle Prater probably won't hear back from the NCAA regarding his waiver status for about a month, a team spokesperson said Wednesday.

Prater, who transferred to NU in January from USC, will have to sit out the 2012 season if the NCAA does not grant the waiver. Prater is hoping the waiver will go through and he will play immediately, because he transferred for "family reasons."

The NCAA might want to speed this up, since Big Ten media days are July 26-27 and it unofficially kicks off the college football season. The Wildcats report to training camp Aug. 4-5 and the team begins practice in Evanston Aug. 6.

Even though this is taking longer than Prater and the Wildcats would like, there is a good precedent that was set a few months ago that could help Prater's cause. Ex-USC tailback Amir Carlisle was granted his waiver when he transferred to Notre Dame, also because of family reasons. 

Northwestern football ranks No. 1 academically

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On a day when the three-time national champion Connecticut's men's basketball team and nine other men's basketball teams were banned from postseason play for poor grades, Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald found out his team's Academic Progress Rate (APR) was ranked No. 1 among both FBS and FCS programs.

As a whole, eight of NU's 19 athletic programs scored a perfect 1,000 and no NU program had a score below 983.

Those with perfect APR's were men's golf, women's cross-country and softball.

The tallest player in Northwestern men's basketball history just walked into Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Chier Ajou -- a 7-2, 235-pound center, out of St. Thomas More (Conn.) and Culver (Ind.) Academies by way of Aweil, South Sudan-- was added to coach Bill Carmody's 2012-13 recruiting class Wednesday. Ajou is a cousin of Chicago Bull Luol Deng and chose the Wildcats over Butler.

Ajou joins a freshman class that includes Kale Abrahamson, Sanjay Lumpkin and Alex Olah. Other NU newcomers for next season include Louisville transfer Jared Swopshire and TCU transfer Nikola Cerina, who had to sit out the 2011-12 season.

Quinn Evans may be the one to ease Northwestern's worries about the team's secondary defense -- even if it is about three months until the Wildcats open the season at Syracuse Sept. 1.

Evans, a 2012 Stanford graduate, transferred to NU under the NCAA's graduate transfer rule and will have one year of eligibility remaining, the school announced June 11. Evans will be pursing a master's degree in the university's School of Continuing Studies.

The defensive back redshirted as a freshman at Stanford, and then in two years played in 20 games and recorded 13 tackles. But Evans hit some hard luck last season, sitting out the entire 2011 campaign with an injury.

Adding Evans under the graduate transfer rule, which has caused some controversy since its inception a couple seasons ago, won't make up for losing three starters in the secondary (Brian Peters, Jordan Mabin and Jeravin Matthews) but Evans will provide some veteran leadership. The only returning starter in the Wildcats' secondary is safety Ibraheim Campbell.

But there isn't any new information on the Wildcats' other transfer, wide receiver and Proviso West product Kyle Prater. Prater transferred from USC Jan. 28 and still has not heard from the NCAA as to whether or not his waiver has gone through. If it doesn't, Prater has to sit out this season. Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald -- and Prater himself -- have said that Prater is transferring to be closer to his family in Maywood. That reason alone may be enough to push the NCAA into allowing Prater to play right away.

Evans, though, doesn't have to sit out a year because he already graduated from Standford and -- under the graduate transfer rule -- is pursuing a graduate degree at his new institution.

 

MORE NEW FACES

A few days after Fitzgerald announced the Evans transfer, NU also announced nine walk-ons to the 2012 roster.

For the Wildcats' program, walk-on have had a interesting tradition. Receiver Zeke Markshausen is perhaps the most successful of recent walk-ons, when he caught 91 passes in 2009. The mark is the second-best single-season total for catches in school history.

And running back Jacob Schmidt beat out Mike Trumpy for the starting spot in the backfield at the beginning of the 2011 season.

The nine walk-ons are: running back/safety Austin Carr; quarterback/punter Zak Kucera; quarterback/punter/kicker Matt Micucci of Stevenson H.S.; receiver/defensive back Jack Mitchell; linebacker/superback Michael Odom of Benet; receiver/defensive back Sean Oliver; running back/defensive back Mike Panico of Carmel; quarterback Christian Salem; and defensive back/receiver Troy Sheppard of Providence.

 

IT'S ALL IN THE TIMING

NU has also announced kickoff times for two non-conference games. The season opener Sept. 1 at Syracuse is scheduled for an 11 a.m. start on ESPN2. The Wildcats' Sept. 15 game at Ryan Field against Boston College will begin at 2:30 and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

Earlier in the spring, the Wildcats announced they will host Vanderbilt in their home opener Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.

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