Steve Hull, making a switch from safety to wide receiver this year, did not practice Thursday morning because of a lingering hamstring injury.
CHAMPAIGN — The injury status of Eric Finney still isn’t known.
And might not be until Friday, according to Illinois coach Tim Beckman.
The projected starter at the STAR position, a hybrid linebacker/defensive back, injured his knee at the end of Wednesday morning’s practice and was carted off the field.
Finney is a transfer from the College of Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif., and was running with the starters this week until Wednesday’s injury.
“I’m not going to give anything until we know exactly (and) when a doctor tells me,” Beckman said at the end of Thursday morning’s practice session. “He wasn’t with us this morning. He was with the doctors. We’ll probably have a great idea what that thing will be probably (Friday) morning, so I’ll be able to give an exact update.”
Finney has practiced with the Orange team all week, and that group is scheduled to practice later this afternoon at around 4:25 p.m. in the final split-squad workout of the week.
Steve Hull sat out Thursday’s session with a hamstring injury.
The senior is making a position switch this season from safety to wide receiver, which was the position he was first recruited to play when he arrived at Illinois for the 2009 season.
“We’ve got to get Steve healthy,” Beckman said. “We’ve got to make sure he is completely healthy. Today he didn’t get to get his reps, and everybody needs to have reps, especially when you’re moving a position.”
The Blue squad practiced this morning after taking part in the late practice on Wednesday.
Players practiced scooping up fumbles and went through positional drills in the 30-minute time frame media was allowed to watch practice.
It was the second straight day of shells (helmets and shoulder pads) for the players before full pads arrive for Friday morning’s first full-squad workout.
“You know how practices are now,” Beckman said. “It’s just like you’re practicing in full pads all the time. It’s just a thing we’ll put on and get them ready.”
Nathan Scheelhaase, Wes Lunt and Chase Haslett were the quarterbacks on hand for the morning session.
Beckman liked what he saw out of his starter when the team worked on situations inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
“I thought he threw some very good footballs,” Beckman said of Scheelhaase. “We had pass under pressure today, like a team pass situation so we had rushes on him, and it was all pass. He completed about a 50-yard touchdown pass, so it was great to see that happen.”
Freshman Dawuane Smoot, who could fill a role at the LEO spot, the hybrid defensive end/linebacker position stood out in Beckman’s eyes for the second straight day.
“He did a great job again this morning,” Beckman said.
So did defensive end Kenny Nelson and defensive tackle Teko Powell.
Nelson and Powell are listed as reserves, but could see a decent amount of playing time.
“They can compete to be starters,” Beckman said. “I’ve been very impressed with the young D-linemen.”
What was learned
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany is expected to attend Illinois practices on Saturday.
The Illini are slated to hold two practices — one starting at 9 a.m. and another at 8 p.m. — but both are closed to the public and the media.
Beckman didn’t indicate which practice Delany, who has made stops at Indiana and Ohio State practices so far this week, with plans on hitting all 12 Big Ten schools this month, would attend.
“We’re excited about having him come in here for practice,” Beckman said. “This team needs to understand the importance of our commissioner and what he means to not only the University of Illinois, but what he means to the community and the conference. He’s done a fabulous job with the things that he’s created for the Big Ten. He’s going to talk to our team, and he’s going to have that chance to meet with them in one-on-one situations and get to know these football players.”
Unity High football coach Scott Hamilton watched all of Thursday morning’s practice, along with Unity offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Tony Reetz.
“Just trying to get in the fever of it,” Hamilton said with a grin. “I’m through my summer mode now and we’re ready to get in football mode.”
The Rockets ended their 2012 season at Memorial Stadium, losing the Class 3A state title game 42-14 to Aurora Christian.
It was the program’s fourth trip to Champaign for the state title game under Hamilton, who is about to start his 20th season with the Rockets.
Hamilton said he tries to watch some practices in the spring and the summer.
He credits Beckman, recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh and other members of the staff for letting him.
“I appreciate them being so open with us and being able to come and be involved in things,” Hamilton said. “You learn a lot of things. I texted my defensive coordinator a couple of things. Our schemes are different, so it’s more individual stuff and practice-type things versus scheme-type things. You can get practice ideas and tackling ideas. They were doing a lot of fundamental stuff here, which we can always work on.”
What was said
“Both of them ran this morning at 5 a.m. because they made fun of me being bald (Wednesday), so I ran them this morning. No, I’m kidding. They’re having a little fun and it’s a little identity thing for them.”
— Illinois inside linebackers coach Mike Ward on Mason Monheim and Mike Svetina’s long hair.