Big Ten Announces Players Set To Attend 35th Annual Kickoff Luncheon

July 19, 2006

The Big Ten Conference office announced the list of student-athletes scheduled to appear at the 2006 Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon today, a group that features 17 players who have earned All-Big Ten accolades in their careers. The annual event, which also features all 11 head coaches, is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 2, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, beginning at 10 a.m. with the player and coach autograph and photo session. The luncheon is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. with Mark Jones of ABC Sports and ESPN serving as the master of ceremonies.
Highlighting the list of players are six individuals who have earned first-team All-Big Ten accolades during their careers, including Iowa quarterback Drew Tate, Michigan running back Mike Hart, Minnesota tight end Matt Spaeth, Penn State's duo of offensive tackle Levi Brown and linebacker Paul Posluszny and Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas. Tate ranked among the conference's top five in passing yards, total offense and passing efficiency last season as a junior after garnering first-team laurels as a sophomore. Hart also earned first-team honors in 2004 and was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after becoming just the third true freshman in Big Ten history to lead the conference in rushing. Spaeth has been named to the Lombardi Award watch list after collecting first-team accolades last season when he hauled in 26 passes for 333 yards. Brown was named a second-team All-American last season after blocking for a Penn State offense that led the Big Ten in scoring at 35.2 points per game. Posluszny was a consensus first-team All-American last season and won the Bednarik and Butkus Awards, becoming the first Big Ten player to claim multiple national honors since 2002. Thomas was named to the watch list for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award after being tabbed as a second-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation last season.

Four second-team All-Big Ten picks will also be present - Michigan offensive lineman Jake Long and defensive end LaMarr Woodley, Ohio State defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock and Purdue wide receiver Dorien Bryant. Long is a candidate for the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy after earning second-team All-Big Ten accolades as a sophomore in 2004. Woodley was also a second-team honoree in 2004 before leading the team in tackles for loss and sacks as a junior last season. Pitcock was a second-team All-Conference selection last season after helping the Buckeyes lead the Big Ten in scoring, rushing, passing and total defense in 2005. Bryant was named second-team All-Big Ten last year after leading the conference and ranking eighth nationally by hauling in 7.3 catches per game.

Seven of the attendees have also earned honorable-mention All-Big Ten laurels in the last two seasons in Illinois running back Pierre Thomas, Iowa defensive back Marcus Paschal, Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton, Northwestern wide receiver Shaun Herbert, Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith, Purdue defensive end Anthony Spencer and Wisconsin linebacker Mark Zalewski. 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 35 years - Archie Griffin, Desmond Howard, Eddie George, Charles Woodson and Ron Dayne. In all, over 630 of the conference's finest players, more than 50 head coaches and 36,500 supporters have made the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon a yearly stop in their preseason college football schedule.

Tickets are still available for the Kickoff Luncheon. For ticket information, visit the conference website at, or call the Big Ten office at 847-696-1010.


E.B. Halsey, SR, RB
J Leman, JR, LB
Pierre Thomas, SR, RB
Lance Bennett, SR, WR
Justin Frye, SR, OL
Will Meyers, SR, S

Mike Elgin, SR, OL
Marcus Paschal, SR, DB
Drew Tate, SR, QB

Mike Hart, JR, RB
Jake Long, SR, OL
LaMarr Woodley, SR, DE
Michigan State 
Kyle Cook, SR, OG
David Herron Jr., SR, LB
Drew Stanton, SR, QB
Bryan Cupito, SR, QB
Matt Spaeth, SR, TE

Bryan Heinz, SR, S
Shaun Herbert, SR, WR
Nick Roach, SR, LB

Ohio State 
Doug Datish, SR, C
Quinn Pitcock, SR, DT
Troy Smith, SR, QB

Penn State 
Levi Brown, SR, OT
Paul Posluszny, SR, LB

Dorien Bryant, JR, WR
Curtis Painter, JR, QB
Anthony Spencer, SR, DE

John Stocco, SR, QB
Joe Thomas, SR, OL
Mark Zalewski, SR, LB