Nov 16, 2013; Champaign, IL, USA; An American Flag covers the field during halftime in a salute to veterans during the game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Dick Butkus Days Until Illinois Fighting Illini Season Opener


Welcome to our Countdown to Kickoff series!  In this series, we’ll do roster previews as we count down the days until the Illinois Fighting Illini August 30th season opener against Youngstown State.

We’re Dick Butkus days until the Illinois Fighting Illini take the field at Memorial Stadium for the first time in 2014. Good thing there’s no players wearing #50 for the Fighting Illini because there’s only ONE number 50 when it comes to the Orange & Blue, and that’s Hall of Famer Dick Butkus.

When it comes to the linebacker position, young high school LBs dream about being just like Butkus.

As Boomer over at BearGogglesOn.com put it, “Butkus is the epitome of an old-school, black and blue division Chicago Bears linebacker.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

At Illinois, Dick Butkus was twice named a unanimous All-American (1963 and 1964), was the American Football Coaches Association Player of the Year in 1964, was named the Sporting News Player of the Year in 1964, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983, and was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1995.

He finished his Illinois career with 374 total tackles and was selected by the Chicago Bears with the 3rd overall pick in the 1965 NFL Draft. ESPN ranked him as the 19th on their Top 25 Players in College Football History list in 2007.

Illinois retired Butkus’ #50 along with Red Grange‘s #77. Both numbers sit atop Memorial Stadium.

“I wouldn’t ever set out to hurt anyone deliberately unless it was, you know, important — like a league game or something.” – Dick Butkus

Be on the lookout for our Countdown to Kickoff series as we continue to work our way to the season opener on August 30th.

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