SAN DIEGO – Duke Preston had about 20 phone calls and talked to six or seven offensive line coaches this week. So the Illinois senior figured something good would happen this weekend.
But even a couple of hours after the Buffalo Bills selected him in the fourth round of the NFL draft on Sunday, Preston was trying to soak it all in.
My tenure as Illini wrestling coach was relatively short, but no one in the program''s history won more Big Ten titles. From 1920 to 1928, my teams were conference champions seven times. Five of those titles were consecutive, starting in 1924. I also won 42 of 47 dual meets during my UI coaching career for the highest winning percentage (.894) in school history. Six of my nine Illini teams went undefeated.
CHICAGO – Kelvin Hayden became the first Illinois player taken in the 2005 NFL draft on Saturday night, but he never had to make an announcement to the family and friends that joined him in his Chicago home.
"I had gotten the phone call and they heard me talking," Hayden said. "Everybody heard my phone ring, and once I started smiling and saying ''Thank you,'' they started screaming. I had to walk out of the room to hear."
Luis Maya was set to enlist in the Marines. He saw the military as his best chance to provide a better life for his mother and move her out of Champaign. When he didn't pass his military tests, he thought his options had run out. But just as a door was closing, another unexpected one opened.
"Victor Mullins came to the school, and there was a large group of juniors and seniors," Maya said. "He talked about two programs and said there were certain spots available."
URBANA – New Chancellor Richard Herman was enjoying his day, for sure.
A few hours after he was named the leader of the University of Illinois' Urbana campus Tuesday, Herman was being congratulated by colleagues, including Crafoord Prize-winning microbiologist Carl Woese, while a gift bottle of champagne sat on his desk.
CHAMPAIGN – You might have seen them in their letter jackets, braving the cold to watch Illinois'' spring game on Saturday. They were high school recruits making unofficial visits to campus, catching the game and getting a tour of the facilities.
No doubt at some point they were shepherded through the Illinois football office past the program''s NFL wall of fame. The wall is filled with big pictures of current Illini – Simeon Rice, Kevin Hardy, Brad Hopkins, to name a few – who are playing in the league.
If someone hacked into a company's database and dug up your bank account numbers or Social Security Number, you might not ever know it.
At least, not until the thief opened an account under your name, refused to pay the bills and the collection agents came calling.
CHAMPAIGN – The temperature never reached 45 degrees and crosswinds howled up to 30 mph at Saturday''s Central Collegiate Championships.
Neither seemed to bother Illinois'' Andre English, who won the 110-meter hurdles and 100 dash.
CHAMPAIGN – About 15 years ago, Bill Pierce and his wife were on the brink of divorce. The Champaign couple had been married about 15 years and had two children.
Pierce, a Christie Clinic podiatrist, said he was hurting those closest to him with his harsh words.
CHAMPAIGN – Cyrus Garrett was stuck so deep in Ron Turner''s doghouse he couldn''t see the light of day.
Displeased with Garrett''s attitude and work ethic, the former Illini coach wouldn''t let the then-sophomore report with the football team in Rantoul last fall. And that didn''t change later when Garrett failed to meet Turner''s conditioning standard. Garrett sat out the entire season.