Two Gophers to appear at Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon

The Big Ten Conference office announced the list of players scheduled to appear at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. Minnesota offensive tackle Rian Melander and defensive end Darrell Reid were the two Gopher invitees. Melander started all 12 games and anchored an offense that led the Big Ten and finished among the top 10 nationally in rushing, total and scoring offense. Reid was an honorable mention selection. The annual event, which features all 11 head coaches, is scheduled for this Thursday.

Highlighting the list of players are as many as six returning First Team All-Big Ten selections, including Iowa defensive end Matt Roth , Michigan's trio of offensive lineman David Baas, wide receiver Braylon Edwards and cornerback Marlin Jackson and the Wisconsin duo of running back Anthony Davis and defensive back Jim Leonhard. Roth earned First Team honors as a junior after racking up a school record 12 sacks and is a candidate for the Lombardi and Hendricks Awards. Baas was named a second-team All-American last season after starting all 13 games at left guard. Edwards is aiming to become the first wideout in school history with three straight 1,000-yard seasons after leading the squad with 85 receptions for 1,138 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior. Jackson, the 2003 Big Ten Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, was tabbed First Team All-Conference as a sophomore. Davis, who earned first-team recognition as a freshman in 2001, missed all or part of nine games as a junior but still enters his final year in Madison ranked third on the school's all-time rushing list. Leonhard collected first-team accolades in each of the last two seasons, as the former walk-on ranks second in school annals with 18 career interceptions, including a Big Ten record 11 picks as a sophomore.

Three Second Team All-Conference picks from last season will also be present -- Minnesota offensive tackle Rian Melander, Ohio State cornerback Dustin Fox and Purdue wide receiver Taylor Stubblefield. Melander started all 12 games a season ago and anchored an offense that led the Big Ten and finished among the top 10 nationally in rushing, total and scoring offense. Fox is a Thorpe Award candidate and has started 28 consecutive games for the Buckeyes. Stubblefield is set to shatter the Big Ten career receptions record, as he ranks third in league history with 236 catches, just behind current leader and former teammate John Standeford, who established the record of 266 receptions last season.

Five of the attendees have earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten laurels in Illinois linebacker Matt Sinclair, Michigan State free safety Jason Harmon, Minnesota defensive end Darrell Reid, Penn State quarterback Zack Mills and Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton. A complete list of players scheduled to attend the Kickoff Luncheon follows.

The Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon annually draws some of the most interesting and talented names in college sports. The list of former Kickoff Luncheon attendees includes coaching legends like Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes, along with each of the Big Ten's Heisman Trophy winners in the last 25 years – Archie Griffin, Desmond Howard, Eddie George, Charles Woodson and Ron Dayne. In all, over 500 of the conference's finest players, more than 50 head coaches and 30,000 supporters have made the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon a yearly stop in their pre-season college football schedule.

Tickets are still available for the Kickoff Luncheon. For ticket information, visit the Conference web site at www.bigten.org, or call the conference office at 847-696-1010.

PLAYERS ATTENDING 2004 BIG TEN CONFERENCE KICKOFF LUNCHEON

Illinois
Duke Preston, SR, C
Matt Sinclair, SR, LB
 
Indiana 
Travis Haney, SR, WR
Martin Lapostolle, SR, DT

Iowa 
Jonathan Babineaux, SR, DT 
Matt Roth, SR, DE

Michigan 
David Baas, SR, OL
Braylon Edwards, SR, WR
Marlin Jackson, SR, CB

Michigan State 
Kyle Brown, JR, WR
Jason Harmon, SR, FS

Minnesota 
Rian Melander, SR, OT
Darrell Reid, SR, DE

Northwestern 
Luis Castillo, SR, DT
Noah Herron, SR, RB

Ohio State 
Dustin Fox, SR, CB
Lydell Ross, SR, TB

Penn State 
Zack Mills, SR, QB
Jason Robinson, SR, DL

Purdue 
Kyle Orton, SR, QB
Taylor Stubblefield, SR, WR

Wisconsin 
Anthony Davis, SR, RB
Jim Leonhard, SR, DB

 


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