40 days to Camp Rantoul

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No. 40: Earnest Thomas, linebacker.

Why he's important: Redshirt freshman from Orchard Lake, Mich., originally came to Illinois as a safety. But he has moved to an outside linebacker spot and left the spring as the backup to Ashante Williams. It's the same position played last season by Nate Bussey, who was impressive enough as a senior to be drafted by the New Orleans Saints. Thomas has a reputation as a big hitter, which will come in handy against some of the running teams he will face in the Big Ten (see Wisconsin, Ohio State, etc.) Vic Koenning wants to keep his players fresh at all positions. The better Thomas performs, the easier that will be at outside linebacker.

Fast fact: Thomas was a talented two-way player at St. Mary's, scoring 13 touchdowns for a team that reached the state title game.

Tomorrow: No. 39

To read Day 50, click here.

To read Day 49, click here.

To read Day 48, click here.

To read Day 47, click here.

To read Day 46, click here.

To read Day 45, click here.

To read Day 44, click here.

To read Day 43, click here.

To read Day 42, click here.

To read Day 41, click here.

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