Monday's Camp Rantoul report

SURVEY SAYS ...

Each day during Camp Rantoul, we will run survey answers from the Illinois football players. Today's guests:

RECEIVER A.J. JENKINS

You are in the Leaders Division. Give us a better name. Illini Division

What celebrity do people say you look like? Chris Tucker

What is your all-time favorite horror movie? "Candyman"

Favorite food during training camp? Crab legs

Is golf a sport? Not unless I'm playing it

You can have any kind of pet, what's it going to be? A fish

Nickname you would like people to start calling you? Stank

Place in the world you most want to visit? Brazil

Other than your girlfriend, who will be cool if you answer this, who is your dream date? Kim Kardashian

RECEIVER RYAN LANKFORD

You are in the Leaders Division. Give us a better name. The Real Division

What celebrity do people say you look like? Chris Tucker

What is your all-time favorite horror movie? "The Omen"

Did the U.S. women's team make you a soccer fan? I was already a soccer fan!

Favorite food during training camp? Ice cream

You can have any kind of pet, what's it going to be? Tiger

Nickname you would like people to start calling you? Lanky Lank

Place in the world you most want to visit? Honolulu, Hawaii

Other than your girlfriend, who will be cool if you answer this, who is your dream date? Keri Hilson

KICKER DEREK DIMKE

You are in the Leaders Division. Give us a better name. 12-pack

What celebrity do people say you look like? Dennis Rodman

What is your all-time favorite horror movie? "Scream"

Did the U.S. women's team make you a soccer fan? Alex Morgan made me a soccer fan

Favorite food during training camp? Steak

Nickname you would like people to start calling you? Das Boot

Place in the world you most want to visit? Cancun, Mexico

Other than your girlfriend, who will be cool if you answer this, who is your dream date? Clarissa Gentzler from the Irwin Academic Center

IN THE NEWS

LIFE OF REILLY

The freshman quarterback is starting to get them talking. Even the guy he hopes to back up.

REILLY O'TOOLE continued a solid training camp with an impressive performance in Sunday's scrimmage. Vying to be NATHAN SCHEELHAASE's backup, O'Toole was accurate with most of his passes and showed good poise under duress.

"It was good to see him perform like that," Scheelhaase said. "I can go back to my freshman year. My first time stepping out there, you're a little nervous, and stepped out there and had a good day. That's a tribute really to our coaches for getting us ready. Reilly is a guy who has really picked it up well. You've got to give him a lot of credit for studying a lot in the summer."

The competition with MILES OSEI isn't over. Offensive coordinator PAUL PETRINO has said he is in no rush to pick the No. 2 quarterback.

After the first few days of training camp, the 2010 News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year realized he wasn't at Wheaton Warrenville South anymore.

"The pace is much, much faster," O'Toole said.

O'Toole won back-to-back state titles with the Tigers. He hasn't lost a game in a while.

"It gives me confidence coming into college," O'Toole said.

The size and speed of the players is a big difference. O'Toole isn't used to 300-pounders who are as fast as him.

O'Toole learned from Scheelhaase and Osei during the summer.

"I feel really comfortable with them," O'Toole said. "They're really great guys and they're really great players."

O'Toole will do whatever the coaches ask, whether it's play early in the season or sit out as a redshirt.

"I want to help the team get wins, win the Big Ten championship," O'Toole said. "If I play, fine. If not, then that's great. As long as the team does well I'm fine with it."

O'Toole is 2-0 at Memorial Stadium. The first five games of the season are at home.

"I'm really excited for the season to start," O'Toole said.

INTERESTED OBSERVER

Though he is busy with his own team, Illinois coach RON ZOOK has noticed the possible conference changes in other parts of the country.

"I heard Texas A&M was going to the SEC, then I heard they're not going to the SEC," Zook said.

Would a 16-team mega-conference be good for college football?

"It doesn't really matter what any of us think," Zook said. "You guys (media members) probably have more control over that than what coaches think."

SHORT SESSION

Because Illinois started Saturday's scrimmage at Rantoul High School, it counted against the 29 allowed practice opportunities. That forced Monday's double session to turn into a single workout.

The length of Saturday's scrimmage, shortened by lightning and rain, didn't matter to the Big Ten.

"All we're doing is trying to keep guys safe," Zook said. "We could have stayed out there, but you're trying to protect your kids. After the lightning went away, now you worry about stiffness and pulled muscles and wet grass and things like that. I don't think it was safe for them to be out there."

The shortened practice doesn't put his team behind, Zook said.

"Those are things that sometimes you wish people would have a little common sense," Zook said.

Illinois ran 15 plays before Saturday's scrimmage ended. It ran more than 100 during Sunday's replay.

SPECIAL GUEST

Former Illinois equipment manager ANDY DIXON watched Monday's practice. Dixon, who retired from the university after a long tenure at Memorial Stadium, is keeping busy. Besides working on his golf game, Dixon spends spring training with the Phillies and also works for Stan's Sportsworld.

SCHEDULE STUFF

The team has a single practice Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. The final double session of Camp Rantoul is on Wednesday, with workouts scheduled for 8:05 a.m. and 6:15 p.m.

POSITION WATCH: Receivers

The leading receiver is back. And he's got a lot of help.

Though A.J. JENKINS has missed some time with a sore hamstring, it hasn't been a problem for Illinois' receivers. There are plenty of guys ready to take their turn.

Starting with RYAN LANKFORD and DARIUS MILLINES, who spent week of training camp reminding the coaches they are ready for breakout seasons. There are others, including senior FRED SYKES, sophomore SPENCER HARRIS, redshirt freshmen JAKE KUMEROW and ANTHONY WILLIAMS and newcomers BRANDON CLEAR (Clemson transfer), JEREMY WHITLOW, JORDAN FRYSINGER and KENNY KNIGHT.

"I'm really happy with the receivers," Illinois quarterback NATHAN SCHEELHAASE said. "I feel real confident about where they are. I feel like we've got a lot of great weapons. They've been doing a great job.

"They've got Coach (PAUL) PETRINO and they're dealing with him every day. Dealing with him, they're getting better no matter what."

The more depth at the position, the better for the offense, Scheelhaase said.

"You can run guys in there and have them make plays," Scheelhaase said.

COACHING CORNER: Defensive line coach Keith Gilmore

The anchor is a different guy this year. But there is an anchor.

In 2010 it was COREY LIUGET. Now that his mentor is playing for the Chargers, AKEEM SPENCE is taking his turn.

"He's got to be the bell cow," Illinois defensive line coach KEITH GILMORE said. "He's got to step up and play big for us every day."

Once they found out Liuget was leaving early for the NFL, the coaches knew the line would look to Spence.

"Akeem is still a young guy yet," Gilmore said. "The ball has been thrown in his lap a little quicker than expected. He's got to learn how to mature at it. He's getting better."

Gilmore saw flashes of what he wants from the rest of the players during Sunday's scrimmage.

"We're getting better in some fundamental things, but we've got a lot of work to do," Gilmore said. "The first unit was fairly solid, but I've got to get some backups, get those guys developed. We've got a few jobs that are open. I've got to find out who can be in the rotation at this point."

The first unit includes Spence, tackle CRAIG WILSON and end WHITNEY MERCILUS. Wilson is in his first year on defense after working as an offensive lineman.

"Craig made his biggest improvement (Sunday)," Gilmore said. "The light is starting to come on for him. He's getting much better. Each day is an adventure for Craig. He's learning something different every day. The good thing is that he's a good athlete and he's willing to work."

Senior WISDOM ONYEGBULE, who just earned a scholarship, will be the first tackle off the bench, followed by redshirt freshmen JAKE HOWE and AUSTIN TEITSMA.

At end, GLENN FOSTER is backing up Mercilus. TIM KYNARD is the third option.

"I always talk about having a pair and a spare," Gilmore said.

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports
Tags (1):Camp Rantoul

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