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
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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#19 Jack Ramsey
#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.
#64 Nate Swanson
Learn about the progress of Illini mammoth Nate Swanson, a 6-8 offensive lineman who redshirted as a freshman in 2009.
#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.
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.
Despite the sweltering heat, the Illini have been working out the kinks at 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.
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.
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.
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.
FORMER ILLINI PLAYER NEWS
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.
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.
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.
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.