Another Camp Rantoul is in the books, the 12th for News-Gazette football beat writer Bob Asmussen. Here are his awards for this year's edition:
MVP: Nathan Scheelhaase, quarterback
Two weeks later, his team feels better about his ability to run an offense. The players and coaches figured that would be the case, but it helped to see it. He's calm, athletic, smart and makes good decisions. Will that translate in a real game? You have to like his chances.
MVC (Most Valuable Coach): Paul Petrino
There are stories about how much his receivers improved after working with him at Arkansas. The same appears to be happening at Illinois. The first-year UI offensive coordinator runs tight drills with lots of teaching and coaching. And he doesn't mind yelling a bit at his guys.
ROCR (Rookie of Camp Rantoul): Evan Wilson, tight end
The Georgian seemed to catch anything and everything thrown his way. His work in the scrimmage at Rantoul High School prompted Petrino to say, "He's going to make a lot of money someday." We assume he meant in the NFL. Based on the first two weeks, he has to be a part of the offense this season.
ROCR Runner-up: Darius Millines, receiver
He needs an award. The guy caught one touchdown pass in the scrimmage at Rantoul High School and had another called back because of a penalty. The coaches thought they found a good one when he made a late commitment, and nothing at Camp Rantoul proved otherwise.
Steve Spurrier Impersonator: Vic Koenning
Instead of a visor, the first-year Illinois defensive coordinator fired his hat into the ground so many times that it needed to be tossed into the Biz bag. The good news: no torn rotator cuff.
Camp Surprise: Ryan Palmer, offensive tackle
There are many options for this award, including Trulon Henry, Jack Ramsey and others. But Palmer has taken over at a key spot on the offensive line. His best Camp Rantoul ever has the coaches convinced he is up for the task of protecting a young quarterback and creating holes for the talented tailbacks.
Earmuffs Award: Petrino
Can't wait to hear him miked during practice on the Big Ten Network. It will sound something like this: "Bleeeeeeep." To be fair, Petrino is far from the worst in Illinois history. Mike White and John Mackovic had a few on their staffs who seemed to get their coaching vocab from the late George Carlin.
Best Pickup Related To Missouri: Chris Willett, fullback
Where did he play last season as a walk-on? Missouri. What school did he help get to a bowl game last season? Missouri. You have to figure the Illinois coaches have picked the brain of the Liberty, Mo., product a time or a thousand. He also appears to be helping on the field, too.
Media Friendly Award: Eddie McGee, slash
The former quarterback has sure grown up. Early in his career, he was a bit leery of the folks with pens and recorders. Now, he is clever, astute and easy to talk to. He'll even make jokes about himself.
Best Local Player: Mikel Leshoure, running back
No offense, of course, to fullback/tight end Zach Becker. The former walk-on from St. Joseph-Ogden will be a valuable contributor to the Illini and, if you've been reading the player polls, is the smartest guy in the room. But Leshoure seems poised to have a monster year. Physically, he is better than ever.