Camp Rantoul has come and gone. The team was graced with perfect weather for Camp, and blessed with even better luck of exiting mostly injury free.
No publication, talk show, or even Las Vegas bookmakers are giving the Illini a shot at doing anything special this season. Who really cares though? The team certainly shouldn’t. They gain nothing from taking anything written, or said, about them personally.
They determine their fate with their play on the field. Everything said about them is pure conjecture by people who won’t put on pads this fall, and who will never decide the actual outcome of any given game.
While it’s true that they are young on the defensive line, and in the secondary, they have a linebacking corps that can rival anyone in the country. Jonathon Brown is out to prove that last year was an aberration, and that he is fully healthy. Mason Monheim is out to prove that last year was just the beginning of what’s sure to be a tackle filled career at the University of Illinois. The other starter in tomorrow’s game, Mike Svetina, is looking to carve a name for himself next to these two tackling machines.
By comparison, the offense isn’t young whatsoever. Sure, the actual offense itself is in its infancy as new OC Bill Cubit installs his playbook, but the young men manning the scheme have plenty of experience.
Of the 11 projected starters, only 1, Ted Karras, is a sophomore. Six seniors, including QB Nathan Scheelhaase, and four juniors, including bell cow running back Donovonn Young, are going to determine whether this season is successful on offense or not. It’s truly their time to step up and shine while most everyone else in the country isn’t giving them any sort of chance at a winning season.
One thing is for certain, practice is over. It’s time to usher in a new season, and attempt to silence all the doubters in the process.
The real games start tomorrow, but for now I’ll leave you with a video from Camp that includes a glimpse of the unity that needs to be present all season for the Illini to reach the expectations they have set for themselves.
Follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.