Hawthorne trying defense

Former East St. Louis receiver Terry Hawthorne, the 2008 News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year, is being tried at cornerback, Illinois coach Ron Zook said Wednesday.

“We want to see what he can do,” Zook said.

Hawthorne wasn’t allowed contact during most of Camp Rantoul while he recovered from a broken hand. Still, he worked at receiver, catching passes at times with a padded hand.

Hawthorne rarely left the field while playing for East St. Louis, working as a receiver, defensive back, kicker and punter. He intercepted eight passes as a senior, returning three for touchdowns.

Though he came to Illinois as a receiver, Hawthorne has said in the past he would play whatever position the coaches asked.

“Terry just wants to play,” Zook said. “I talked to him about maybe taking a look at defensive back for a couple of days. And he said, ‘That would be fine.’ He knows he’s going to play and he knows he’s going to be involved. We’ll see what’s best for him.”

— Illinois tailback Daniel Dufrene is recovering from a sprained ankle suffered during Tuesday’s practice.

“It’s hopefully not too bad,” Zook said.

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