Andre McDonald

CFT Predicts: the Big Ten

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As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the Big Ten.  

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SEC, Pac-12

Leaders Division

1. Ohio State (Last year: 12-0)
What happened last season?
Urban Meyer‘s first year with the Buckeyes was flawless, at least as far as things go in the win-loss column. Though Ohio State had no postseason to look forward to thanks to NCAA sanctions, it went undefeated during the regular season. That’s propelled OSU to become one of the preseason favorites to appear in the final BCS championship.

So why are they ranked here?
The more appropriate question would be why wouldn’t the Buckeyes be ranked here? Meyer is easily one of the best in the game and quarterback Braxton Miller is now the betting favorite to win the Heisman. There are some concerns along the defensive front for this team, but it doesn’t have the appearance of something that will be an insurmountable problem.

Anything else?
The Game against Michigan can go either way, but there’s really only one spot I can potentially see Ohio State slipping. That would be an Oct. 5 game at Northwestern. The Wildcats enter 2013 with some hype (there’s something you don’t type everyday) after winning 10 games last year.

2. Wisconsin (Last year: 8-6; lost to Stanford in Rose Bowl) 
What happened last season?
The Badgers can thank the NCAA for getting to the Big Ten title game as both Ohio State and Penn State watched from home. The Badgers struggled with offensive consistency throughout the year even though Montee Ball was among the leading rushers in the country. 

So why are they ranked here?
Gary Andersen takes over for the departed Bret Bielema. Though Ball is gone and the quarterback situation needs to be figured out, this is a veteran team with some recognizable names still around like running back James White and receiver Jared Abbrederis. The bigger concern lies on defense, which will be moving to more of a 3-4 this year.

Anything else?
The Badgers avoid Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska this season. It may not help Andersen win the Leaders Division in his first year, but it should help with a few more W’s. Also, QB Tanner McEvoy has started getting some looks at receiver and should help in that department.

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Gophers WR suspended for rest of camp

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Minnesota has already lost one of its top returning wide receivers when Devin Crawford-Tufts decided to give up football in favor of track.  Now, the Gophers may or may not have lost another returning wideout due to an entirely different reason.

Following practice Saturday, head coach Jerry Kill revealed that Andre McDonald has been suspended for the remainder of summer camp.  The reason, of course, is violating unspecified team rules.

“We have a team policy that you have to follow,” Kill said. “Right now, he’s not able to practice. That’s where we’re at right now. He’s not going to be practicing the rest of camp.”

The suspension, which may bleed into the 2013 season, is the latest bump in the road for the talented receiver.  In late December McDonald was suspended for the Gophers’ Alamo Bowl appearance, again for what was only described as violating team rules.  He then missed all of spring practice for “personal reasons,” returning to the Gophers a couple of weeks before the start of summer camp.

McDonald was a three-star member of the Gophers’ 2012 recruiting class, rated as the No. 3 player in the state of Minnesota that year.  Plagued by a minor heart problem early in the year, McDonald played in eight games his true freshman season.  He caught 10 passes for 121 yards before his suspension.

Gophers WR back on the team

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Last month, Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said he was “cautiously optimistic” that departed wide receiver Andre McDonald could return to the team.

Turns out he had reason to believe that.

A team spokesperson confirmed to Nate Sandell of ESPN Radio that McDonald had been reinstated to the team.

“He’s got another opportunity … Now it’s up to him,” Kill said Tuesday.

The talented sophomore was a three-star member of the Gophers’ 2012 recruiting class. Though hampered by a minor heart problem early in the year, McDonald played in eight games his true freshman season.  He caught 10 passes for 121 yards before being suspended for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas for a violation of unspecified team rules.