Counting down the 50 most important Illini
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No. 28: Patrick Nixon-Youman, defensive back.
Why he's important: As a highly touted high school player, he could have had his pick of colleges and he went with Illinois. After a rough start that included academic ineligibility and a bad leg injury, he has been a productive player the past two seasons. Trained as a cornerback, he has the ability to help there or at safety. He started three games in 2011 and played significant minutes in 2010. The best moment of his career to this point was a 68-yard interception return for a touchdown against Indiana in 2010. In 2011, he bumped his tackle total to 27. With the health concerns at safety, he will have a chance to play early and often. Given his variety of skills, he could be on the field at multiple positions and play starter's snaps without actually being first on the depth chart.
Fast fact: Originally, the Florida native was known as Patrick Nixon. But he added the Youman later in his career. Youman is his grandmother Leola's last name.
Tomorrow: No. 27