Oct 6, 2012; Madison, WI, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini running back Donovonn Young (5) against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers deafeated the Fighting Illini 31-14. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Football Roundtable: Who is the Biggest Player to Watch Heading into Fall Camp?

The staff of Writing Illini takes a look into the Illinois’ Fall Camp in Rantoul. The guys state who they believe is the player(s) to watch heading into Camp Rantoul for the Fighting Illini.

Sep 03, 2011; Champaign, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Steve Hull (5) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Memorial Stadium. The Fighting Illini defeated the Red Wolves 33-15. Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan: The conventional response to this question would involve waxing poetic on the progression of Nathan Scheelhaase in new OC Bill Cubit’s offensive scheme. After all, QB is the most important position on any football team, and this is especially true in the case of Illinois Football. However, I am feeling anything but conventional today so I will toss a name out that intrigues me heading into Camp Rantoul: Steve Hull.

Hull intrigues me because he is transitioning to WR for his senior season. It’s an area of need for Illinois due to depth, and Hull came out of Sycamore High in Cincinnati as a 1st Team All-Ohio member after catching 36 passes for 802 yards and 11 TD. Hull has always shown speed, but he has also shown a propensity towards injury as well. Hull maintains a solid off field relationship with Scheelhaase that should translate to the field, as Scheelhaase will be looking for someone to throw the ball to other than Ryan Lankford. If Hull can stay healthy, he has a chance to utilize his unique understanding of what defenses are trying to do against them, and post potentially huge numbers in his swan song at Illinois.

Austin: I am going to go with two guys here, because I think they are vital to the success of the passing game and the offense in whole this season. Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young must be able to run the ball with success in order for the Illini passing game to be successful. I say this because like any team, if you can not run the ball, you have to pass the ball. If the opposing team knows a pass is coming, the ability to complete said pass becomes a bit more difficult. It is not rocket science. They have got to be clicking on all aspects of offense, but the running game keeps opposing defenses honest.

If Young and Ferguson are not able to, together, get between 100 and 120 a game, Nathan Scheelhaase will have to pass the ball on a more frequent basis. Granted, Cubit’s offense is designed to give the passing numbers a big boost from last year, but if you look at his past teams, the running backs still had success in the trenches. In the 2010-2012 seasons, Cubit’s Western Michigan teams averaged over 120 yards a game rushing, giving way to allow the quarterback to put up some big numbers. That said, there is no doubt in my mind that for the Illini to be successful this year, the running game must be able to go out there every game and compete.

Ricky: It seems like everyone and their mother will be focused on the Illinois offense heading into Camp Rantoul. With Nathan Scheelhaase and new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, everyone will be looking to see what happens between those two. Me? I’ll be focusing on the Illinois defense heading into Camp Rantoul.

My player to watch heading into Fall Camp is newest transfer Clayton Fejedelem. Fejedelem transferred to the Fighting Illini from the Saint Xavier Cougars this past offseason. Clayton is a player that can make an immediate impact for the Illinois defense in 2013. While playing his first two season in the NAIA, Fejedelem intercepted eight passes for 74 yards, broke up seventeen passes, recovered six fumbles, forced three fumbles, and recorded 155 total tackles. On top of it all, Clayton Fejedelem has the “heart of a champion.” He won the 2011 NAIA National Championship with the St. Xavier Cougars during his freshman season (made it to the semifinals in 2012).

What do you think, Illini Nation? Who is the biggest player to watch heading into Illinois’ Fall Camp?

The Writing Illini staff includes lead editor Ricky Widmer along with staff writers, Austin Jabs and Ryan Kraemer.

Follow Ricky on Twitter @RickyWidmer.

Follow Austin on Twitter @AustinJabs85.

Follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.

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Tags: Clayton Fejedelem Donovonn Young Football Illinois Fighting Illini Steve Hull

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