Counting down the 50 most important Illini football players before Camp Rantoul starts on Aug. 12.
Counting down the 50 most important Illini
No. 50: Ralph Cooper, linebacker.
Why he’s important: Provides depth and experience to the most dependable unit on defense. He compiled 18 tackles last fall in a reserve role, up from three tackles he made his freshman season. His best game happened in the last Illinois win. Cooper tied with Ashante Williams for a team-high six tackles, including two for loss, in Illinois’ 44-0 drubbing of Charleston Southern on Sept. 15. Mason Monheim, Jonathan Brown and Eric Finney should make up the starting linebacker corps going into the season, but Cooper should push for playing time.
Fast fact: The future broadcaster is named after his father, Ralph Cooper, Sr., and will turn 21 the day after (Feb. 6) National Signing Day takes place Feb. 5, 2014.
Tomorrow: No. 49