Saturday Afternoon Gridiron Wrap: Illini Football News for August 8-14

Catch up on this past week’s happenings with the Illinois football team, which held its media day and began practicing at Camp Rantoul in preparation for the September 4th season opener against Missouri, in my weekly Saturday Afternoon Gridiron Wrap.

WRITING ILLINI FOOTBALL NEWS

Since last weekend’s Gridiron Wrap, I broke down the Illinois receivers and offensive line, took a trip to Camp Rantoul, and assembled a list of former Illini vying for NFL roster spots.

ILLINI PLAYER NEWS

#2 Nathan Scheelhaase

With the Illini football opener approximately 3 weeks away, the intrigue with redshirt freshman starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is certainly growing, as evident by the proliferation of stories on him this week.

ILLINI QB SCHEELHAASE WISE BEYOND HIS YEARS

SIT DOWN WITH NATHAN SCHEELHAASE

ILLINI WILL LEAN ON NEW QB, COACHES

IT’S SAFETY FIRST FOR SCHEELHAASE

ILLINI’S HOPES REST ON 19-YEAR-OLD’S ARM

NATHAN SCHEELHAASE GROWS UP FAST FOR ILLINI

→  SCHEELHAASE GLAD HE WAITED TO BECOME ILLINI’S QUARTERBACK

→  SCHEELHAASE PERFORMS ON DAY ONE OF FALL PRACITCE

→  ILLINI QUARTERBACK SCHEELHAASE GROOMED FOR SUCCESS SINCE THE BEGINNING

FEEL DA PAIGN QB POSITION BREAKDOWN

#2 Martez Wilson

After missing most of 2009 with a herniated disc in his neck, junior linebacker Martez Wilson is back in action, with Illini fans hoping that the heralded recruit from Chicago’s Simeon High School will finally have a breakout season.

MARTEZ WILSON: CRUCIAL TO THE ILLINI DEFENSE

MARTEZ WILSON TALKING ILLINI DEFENSE

ILLINI’S WILSON BACK, PUMPED TO PRODUCE

MARTEZ WILSON BACK AT FULL SPEED FOR ILLINI

ILLINI MLB WILSON READY FOR SPOTLIGHT

ILLINOIS’ MARTEZ WILSON ITCHING TO HIT

#5 Mikel Leshoure

Anchoring an Illinois running game that figures to be one of the team’s strengths in 2010, junior running back and Centennial product Mikel Leshoure could have a breakout season.

SKINNY LESHOURE AND MORE ILLINI FOOTBALL NUGGETS

SIT DOWN WITH MIKEL LESHOURE

LESHOURE READY TO CARRY THE LOAD FOR ILLINI

FEEL DA PAIGN BREAKS DOWN LESHOURE AND THE ILLINI RUNNING GAME

#8 A.J. Jenkins

Junior wide receiver A.J. Jenkins decided to stay at Illinois after considering transferring following a difficult 2009 season, and the Illini offense is certainly better off with his presence.

A.J. JENKINS LOOKING LIKE ILLINOIS’ TOP RECEIVER

#10 Eddie McGee

Senior Eddie McGee has seen a lot during his time in Champaign and is being viewed as not only a leader during his last season but a versatile weapon who is making the official switch to wide receiver but still serving as an emergency backup quarterback to Scheelhaase.

EDDIE MCGEE VIDEO

ILLINI’S MCGEE ALL ABOUT THE TEAM

SIT DOWN WITH EDDIE MCGEE

#19 Jack Ramsey

While fellow wide outs Jenkins, McGee and Jarred Fayson have gotten a lot of publicity, sophomore receiver Jack Ramsey (also from Simeon) has apparently gotten off to a good start at Camp Rantoul.

JACK RAMSEY’S RANTOUL

#41 Zach Becker

A walk-on at Illinois, junior Zach Becker is now listed as first on the Illini depth chart at fullback and tight end.

STEPPING, GINGERLY, BACK INTO THE FRAY

ZACK BECKER HOPING HIS FEET DON’T FAIL HIM THIS SEASON

#64 Nate Swanson

Learn about the progress of Illini mammoth Nate Swanson, a 6-8 offensive lineman who redshirted as a freshman in 2009.

BV GRADUATE SWANSON SET FOR YEAR 2 WITH ILLINOIS FOOTBALL TEAM

#97 Clay Nurse

Senior defensive lineman Clay Nurse is expected to be a leader on this side of the ball in 2010, and has certainly been talking the part thus far, specifically when defending Illini head coach Ron Zook.

ANGRY NURSE HAS RON ZOOK’S BACK

SIT DOWN WITH CLAY NURSE

ILLINI’S NURSE NOT LOOKING BACK

ILLINI TEAM NEWS

After holding media day last Sunday at Memorial Stadium, the Illini head off to Camp Rantoul for practice. Here are some various status checks on the Illini football team.

MEET THE ILLINI FOOTBALL TEAM

ILLINI HAVE MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS

OPTIMISTIC SKEPTICISM FOR ILLINI

TUPPER: ILLINI FACE ROCKY ROAD TO OPENER

ILLINOIS FOOTBALL MEDIA DAY

ILLINI MEDIA DAY VIDEO

ILLINI START NEW JOURNEY

ILLINI WILL TAKE CAUTIOUS APPROACH

ILLINI FOOTBALL PREVIEW: PUT IT IN YOUR MOUTH

PROOF THAT EXPECTATIONS ARE AT A LOW FOR ILLINI FOOTBALL

ILLINI FOOTBALL POOL PARTY

CAMP RANTOUL

Despite the sweltering heat, the Illini have been working out the kinks at Camp Rantoul.

ILLINI CAMP DAY 2

THOUGHTS GOING INTO CAMP RANTOUL

CAMP RANTOUL: WHAT TO EXPECT

TRAINING CAMP: PRACTICE #3

3 THINGS TO WATCH AT CAMP RANTOUL

ILLINI FOOTBALL PICKS UP TEMPO IN FIRST PRACTICE

ILLINI HEAD TO CAMP RANTOUL FOR SWELTERING PRACTICE HEAT

ILLINI THINK ONLY FOOTBALL AT CAMP RANTOUL

BOB’S BLITZ: DAY 1 FROM CAMP RANTOUL

ILLINI OPEN CAMP RANTOUL

HITTING BEGINS AT CAMP RANTOUL (COOL VIDEO)

CAMP RANTOUL: DAY 2 MORNING REPORT

→  CAMP RANTOUL: DAY 3 MORNING REPORT

→  DAY 3 FROM CAMP RANTOUL

ILLINI COACHING NEWS

Head Coach Ron Zook

If you haven’t heard by now, the pressure is on Illini head coach Ron Zook, who is coming off two disappointing seasons following a Rose Bowl appearance in 2007.

RON ZOOK ON PRACTICE TWO

RON ZOOK ADMITS HE COULD BE ON HIS LAST LEG

ZOOK KNOWS THIS SEASON COULD BE HIS LAST, AND HIS OFFSEASON HIRES PROVE IT

ZOOK AT MEDIA DAY

A FULL GAME PLAN

RON ZOOK SPEAKS AFTER THURSDAY PRACTICE

RON ZOOK ON FRIDAY’S PRACTICE

RON ZOOK TALKS ABOUT MOVING PRACTICE TO AVOID THE HEAT

Offensive Coordinator Paul Petrino

Coming from Arkansas after the 2009 season, offensive coordinator Paul Petrino has brought a pro-style offense to the Illini after years of the spread.

PAUL PETRINO: ‘TOUGH AS AN OLD WORK BOOT’

SCHEMES IN PLACE FOR ILLINI OFFENSE

ILLINI’S PETRINO IMPRESSED WITH FOUR FRESHMAN RECEIVERS

ILLINI PLANS TO FLIP THE LINE

Running Backs Coach DeAndre Smith

New running backs coach DeAndre Smith certainly inherited some talent at this position and talks about the progress of his troops thus far.

SMITH TALKS RUNNING BACKS

Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning

Illinois’ silly co-defensive coordinator set-up is now a thing of the past, with Kansas State’s Vic Koenning taking over the helm of the Illinois defense and secondary.

VIC KOENNING VIDEO

KOENNING TEACHING ILLINI DEFENSE

FORMER ILLINI PLAYER NEWS

Arrelious Benn

The reports on former Illini receiver and 2010 second round draft pick Arrelious Benn have been mixed out of the Tampa Bay Bucs’ training camp. Whatever the case, Benn will play in his first preseason game tonight, getting matched up against former Illini teammate Vontae Davis, a second-year cornerback for the Miami Dolphins. The game is at 6 p.m. central on the NFL Network.

STOVALL STARTING IN TAMP AS BENN STRUGGLES

Michael Hoomanawanui

Former Illini tight end Michael Hoomanawanui is trying to stick with the St. Louis Rams after getting drafted by the team later in April’s NFL Draft. Hoomanawanui and the Rams will take on the visiting Minnesota Vikings at 7 p.m. tonight.

ILLINI TIGHT TEND TRYING TO CATCH ON WITH RAMS

FAMILY FAVORITE

RECRUITING NEWS

It was a quiet week on the Illini recruiting front after receiving commitments from a handful of prospects in the previous two weeks or so.

ILLINI RECRUITS DURKIN, O’CONNOR WILL ANCHOR ANDREW

CONFERENCE/SCHEDULING/OTHER COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS

Stay updated on Michigan’s troubles with the NCAA, get an early preview of Missouri (Illinois’ first opponent on September 4th) and catch up with other Big Ten college football news from the past week.

MICHIGAN TO FACE NCAA PANEL

AN EARLY READ ON MISSOURI

WRIGLEY TO PROVIDE UNIQUE SETTING FOR ILLINI, WILDCATS

ANN ARBOR DOT COM: TEAM-BY-TEAM BIG TEN NOTES

AS BIELEMA BEGINS HIS FIFTH SEASON, HIS EXPERIENCE YIELDS PERSPECTIVE

NIU HUSKIES GET A VOTE

SWAN SONG: LAST YEAR FOR 11-TEAM BIG TEN

FSU’S JIMBO FISHER CAN BE A TRUE SUCCESSOR

BIG TEN MAILBLOG

RIVALS.COM EXPERT PREDICTIONS: BIG TEN

BIG TEN GETTING BIGGER…AND BETTER

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: A.J. Jenkins Arrelious Benn Camp Rantoul Clay Nurse DeAndre Smith Eddie McGee Football Illinois Football Jack Ramsey Jarryd Fayson Martez Wilson Michael Hoomanawanui Mikel Leshoure Nate Swanson Nathan Scheelhaase Paul Petrino Ron Zook Vic Koenning Zach Becker