Spring practice recap: Day 4

Spring practice recap: Day 4

For Saturday's recap, click here.

For Thursday''s recap, click here.


Ron Zook's team continued practice Tuesday. A look:


-- Former New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Rams coach Jim Haslett is attending Illinois practices this week.

Haslett is a longtime friend of Illinois coach Ron Zook. He came to Tuesday's workout with former Northwestern coach Rick Venturi, who was on Gary Moeller's Illinois staff in 1977.

"This is really the first opportunity I've had to watch him coach as a head coach," Haslett said. "I'm excited."

They first worked together in 1999 with the Steelers. Later, after Haslett took over the Saints, he hired Zook as his defensive coordinator.

"He's done a great job," Haslett said. "He's a heckuva recruiter. He's a tireless worker. Kids like to play for him."

Haslett has visited Memorial Stadium before, bringing the Saints to play the Bears in 2002.

"It's beautiful what they did with the press box and the weight room," Haslett said.

Haslett was also impressed with the Illinois offense.

"They look like they've got great skill players and receivers," Haslett said. "That's the kind of thing that stands out. And, obviously, Juice (Williams) running around."

Zook said he wants Haslett and Venturi to address the players.

-- Safety Donsay Hardeman, who injured his neck during the 2008 season and won't be allowed contact in the spring, was in uniform Tuesday. He worked out with injured teammate Miami Thomas under the guidance of strength coach Lou Hernandez.

"He's back trying to get ready to go," Zook said. "The prognosis right now is good. He's just going to have to do the things that you've got to do. He looks pretty good out there. He can do everything right now with the exception of contact."

Does Zook expect him back for the 2009 season?

"I think it's going to be up to him," Zook said. "I've been around guys who have had similar things who have played for years in the NFL. He's going to have to feel comfortable with it. He's had the best treatment and we've gotten two or three different opinions.

"The last C-scan or bone scan, whatever they did, everything looked good."

-- Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was back at practice Tuesday after missing Saturday's workout because of personal reasons.

The senior-to-be is coming off his best season as an Illini, catching 25 passes in 2008. Last week, Hoomanawanui said he is excited about working with new offensive coordinator Mike Schultz, who is also coaching the tight ends.

-- Former Illini David Lindquist, Ryan McDonald and Jay Ramshaw watched part of Tuesday's practice. McDonald, who is working on his master's while also preparing for a chance to play in the NFL, recently won a postgraduate scholarship from the NCAA.

-- Big Ten Network studio analyst Gerry DiNardo watched Tuesday's practice. It was his 10th school stop this spring, with only a Wednesday trip to Michigan State left on his schedule.

Before the 2008 season, DiNardo correctly predicted Illinois would struggle after the team's success in 2007.

-- "I drove to work with him one time. He was shaving, having a cup of coffee and cereal at the same time, while driving. Figure that one out," former Saints coach Jim Haslett on Ron Zook's multitasking.

-- "The guy in the middle for us the last few years has been a guy who has made an awful lot of plays for us. I presume it will be same type of guy. We're not really experimenting. We've got a bunch of guys, with the exception of Martez (Wilson), who don't have much experience. The only way you can get experience is to go out there and play. We're probably going to scrimmage those guys a little bit more than maybe some of the other positions," Ron Zook on his linebackers.

-- "It's a lot different. Coming in your first year, your head's spinning, you don't know what to do. You come in to summer camp and you don't have a glimpse of the defense. As a second-year player, it feels a lot better, a lot more comfortable," safety Supo Sanni on his first spring session.

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports


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