Daily summary | Luke Ford, professional wrestler?; Illini in Stadium transfer rankings

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There are a lot of news every day. Illini Inquirer will try to ease digestion each morning of the week with the Daily Digest.



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Luke Ford has a bright future as a professional entertainer – either as a football player or now potentially as a wrestler. The Illinois football tight end was one of 15 college athletes named to WWE’s Second Class for its NIL “Next In Line” program. The program serves to “recruit and develop potential future Superstars, and further enhances WWE’s talent development process through collaborative partnerships” with student-athletes, according to a WWE press release.

  • As part of the agreement, Ford will have access to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida and the wrestling giant’s brand building, media training, communications, live event promotion, creative writing and community relations.
  • At the end of the program, some athletes may have the option of being offered a contract with WWE. Six athletes who graduated last year have signed or are in talks to join WWE full-time.


What this means: Ford is focused on building the NFL. He said this offseason the NFL informed him he would have been a mid-to-late round draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but he hopes to increase his stock this fall after hitting 15 receptions for 114. yards and two touchdowns last. season. Ford is known as a very good blocker but hopes to show more of his receiving skills in Barry Lunney Jr.is the new offence. But Ford has long shown that charisma and personality – including on social media – is also a great prospect for WWE. It doesn’t hurt to have two great options.


Thought bubble: Maybe Ford will embrace his family’s military history, roll with box office success, and go by the “Maverick” alter ego?


15 Athletes Who Signed With WWE’s “Next In Line” Program

  • Ali Mattox of Ole Miss, a 5-foot-7 cheerleader and dance athlete from Little Rock, Ark.
  • cash hatch of Arizona State, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound football player from Gilbert, Arizona.
  • Tennessee’s Chandler Hayden, a 5-foot-11 track and field athlete from Pittsfield, Illinois.
  • Arizona State’s Cohlton Schultz, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound wrestler from Parker, Colorado.
  • Auburn’s Derrian Gobourne, a 5-foot-4 gymnast from Sarasota, Florida.
  • Ericka Link of Elon, a 5-foot-6 volleyball player from Hedgesville, W.Va.
  • Keshaun Moore of Hampton, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound football player from Suffolk, Virginia.
  • Luke Ford of Illinois, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound footballer from Carterville, Illinois.
  • Maliq Carr of Michigan State, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound football and basketball player from Inkster, Michigan.
  • Central Michigan’s Mikala Hall, a 5-foot-5 basketball player from Danville, Illinois.
  • Rachel Glenn of South Carolina, a 6-foot track athlete from Long Beach, California.
  • Ruben Banks of Arkansas, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound track athlete from Binfield, England
  • Stanford’s Thunder Keck, a 6-foot-3, 245-pound football player from Northfield, NH
  • Miami’s Tyanna Omazic, a 6-foot-2 volleyball player from Kansas City, Mo.
  • Hofstra’s Zachary Knighton-Ward, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound wrestler from Rosedale, NY



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Bryce McGowens (Photo: Michael Hickey, Getty)

Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor includes six Big Ten players among the top 22 picks in his latest mock NBA draft in the first roundreleased just 10 days before the NBA Draft.


Big Ten players in The Ringer’s mock draft



Why is this important: The Big Ten haven’t had five or more picks in the first round of the NBA Draft since 2014, when Nik Stauskas (#8), Noah Vonleh (#9), Adrian Payne (#15), Gary Harris (#19) and Mitch McGary (#21) it all went in the first round. The last time the Big Ten had three or more players in the lottery (first 14 picks) was in 2013: Victor Oladipo (#2), Cody Zeller (#4) and Trey Burk (No. 9).


And after: The NBA Draft, which includes 58 selections over two rounds, begins at 7:00 p.m. CT (ESPN) on Thursday, June 23 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.


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Three-star wide receiver Tallmadge (Ohio) Collin Dixon engaged in Wisconsin on Monday after an official visit to Madison. The 6-foot-2 wide receiver chose Wisconsin over offers from Illinois, Indiana, Pittsburgh and Purdue and was scheduled to make an official visit to Illinois.

  • According to industry-generated composite rankings, Dixon is the No. 891 overall prospect in the Class of 2023 and the No. 27 prospect at Ohio State.


Why is this important: Wisconsin was a thorn in the side of the Illini during the Class of 2023, earning commitments from Dixon and three-star Chicago DL Roderick Pierce – both Illinois targets – as well as Illinois natives Tyler Jansey and Justin Taylor. Badgers also battle Illini for three-star Chicago Marist DL Jamel Howard.


What this means: The Illini still need a long, athletic receiver who can stretch the field and win contested balls in the class of 2023. Chicago Simeon, four-star Malik Elzy is the main target, and the Illini is also expected to host New Jersey’s three-star receiver Famah Toure for an official visit this weekend.



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Terrence Shannon (Photo: Getty)

Illinois basketball has two of the three highest-ranked inbound Big Ten transfers, according to Jeff Goodman’s latest transfer rankings from the Stadium. Texas Tech Transfer Wing Terrence Shannon is the Big Ten’s highest-ranked transfer at No. 10 while the Baylor transfer Matthew Mayer ranks No. 28.

  • Illinois Outbound Transfers André Curbelo (St. John’s) and Jacob Grandison (Duke) ranks 18th and 45th respectively in Goodman’s ranking.


A scout told Goodman about Shannon, who averaged 10.4 points last season at Texas Tech: “Strong and athletic. Good size. Very good in open ground, reaches the rim with his left hand and can really finish. Catch and shoot, has a one-two dribble pull-up.


A scout told Goodman de Mayer, who averaged 9.8 points last season at Baylor: “He’s long and skilful, but never realized his potential. It shows previews, but just doesn’t put it all together. But its versatility is intriguing.


Big Ten transfers in

  • ten) Terrence ShannonIllinois
  • 23) Jahmir youngMaryland
  • 28) Matthew MayerIllinois
  • 30) Dawson GarciaMinnesota
  • 40) Sean McNeilOhio State
  • 41) Jaelin LlewellynMichigan
  • 52) Cam SpencerRutgers
  • 59) Tanner HoldenOhio State
  • 67) Donald CareyMaryland
  • 82) Sam GrieselNebraska
  • 97) Isaac LikekeleOhio State
  • 101) Ta’lon CooperMinnesota


What this means: While Illinois lost almost all of its production from the co-champion Big Ten team last season and the transfer rankings don’t mean much (see: Alphonse Plummer), the Illini had the most buzz-worthy offseason of any Big Ten team and landed two of the most proven and highest-ranked transfers of the offseason to complete a top-10 recruiting class – highlighted by three top-50 prospects, according to 247Sports — and potential emerging players Coleman Hawkins, RJ Melendez, Luke Goode and Dain Dainja.


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Have a good Tuesday!

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