Asmussen: The week that was
Each Sunday during Illinois spring football, beat writer Bob Asmussen will wrap up what he saw and heard from Tim Beckman's team:
— About 150 high school juniors attended Saturday's early-afternoon workout at Memorial Stadium.
Afterward, the players went inside the north end of the stadium to hear a presentation from coach TIM BECKMAN and his staff.
Beckman said he was thrilled with the turnout.
"It was a beautiful day," Beckman said. "What a great opportunity. We get to showcase this great institution that we have."
— Defensive end JUSTIN STAPLES, who was suspended from football activities earlier in the semester following a DUI arrest, is practicing with the team.
"He's doing good," Beckman said. "You've got to perform consistently, on and off the football field."
Staples will have to serve another suspension during the 2012 season, Beckman said.
According to court documents, Staples was arrested Feb. 9 and his blood-alcohol level tested at 0.157, almost twice the legal limit.
— Former Illini coach RON TURNER has a new job. The former Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks coach has accepted the same position in Tampa Bay, where he will work under GREG SCHIANO.
Since being fired at Illinois after the 2004 season, Turner has worked exclusively in the NFL, first with the Chicago Bears, then the Colts.
— You think you've have had a bit of turnover in your career? Not compared to JUSTIN GREEN.
The cornerback will work with his fourth position coach.
As a freshman running back in 2009, he had DeANDRE SMITH as coach. In 2010, after a switch to the secondary, it was VIC KOENNING. In 2011, MIKE GILLHAMER took over the secondary. And in 2012, Green's coach is STEVE CLINKSCALE.
"That's just how the game is," Green said. "Things constantly change. You've just got to learn how to adjust and make the most out of everything."
With each change, Green deals with a new personality. But unlike previous years, the entire team is going through it with the secondary.
"It's not too much different as far as the work ethic," Green said. "But the coaches expect a whole lot more out of us. And I feel the competition level has been raised a whole lot more, which is good for everybody."
Green takes pieces of information from each of the coaches he has worked with. Like some of the lessons taught by Gillhamer, who is back in the NFL with the Colts.
— Offensive lineman COREY LEWIS, who has missed two full seasons with knee injuries, is likely headed back to the operating table.
Lewis visited specialists in New York earlier in the week.
"I think they'll probably have to go back in and do some repair," Beckman said.
— There aren't special teams at Illinois. Not under Beckman. They are now called "special units." And each one has a military-themed name.
The punt unit, for example, is known as "Seals." Punt return is "Recon," kickoff coverage is "Delta Force" and kickoff return is "Bravo Company."
On Thursday during the season, Beckman's special units will practice with military march music in the background.
— Illinois quarterback REILLY O'TOOLE wasn't happy to see the Colts release PEYTON MANNING. O'Toole is a big fan of the four-time NFL MVP. It says so in his media guide bio.
"I like ANDREW LUCK a lot, but I don't think they should have let him go," O'Toole said. "You hate to see him go. He handled it with class. I don't think there's any hard feelings.
"Wherever he goes, he'll do great and I'll be a fan of that team now."
A year ago, O'Toole was finishing up his basketballs season at Wheaton Warrenville South. Now, he's in his first spring. And learning every day.
"From talking to MILES (OSEI) and NATE (SCHEELHAASE), they said from last year, it was pretty tough," O'Toole said. "This practice is a high-tempo practice. I thought it went pretty well the first day."
— Former Centennial/Illinois star MIKEL LESHOURE is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon that cost him his rookie NFL season with the Detroit Lions. Leshoure, who said he was feeling "great," hugged former teammates and watched most of Saturday's workout on the Memorial Stadium turf.
It was a tough 2011 NFL season for former Illini tailbacks. Pittsburgh Steelers standout RASHARD MENDENHALL suffered a torn ACL late in the season and is expected to miss part of 2012.
— The music was pumped up loud on the speakers during most of Saturday's practice. That will be part of the daily routine, Beckman said.
"We always stress it at certain times during our practice," Beckman said. "It forces our players to communicate other ways. It's something we've done."
— "We've got a ways to go. But I was excited about the way they performed. We got off the field last night at 8, and they were back here at 10 (a.m.) It was a short turnaround." — Illinois coach TIM BECKMAN
— "Now, the biggest focus we all have, not myself only, is learning the stuff up. There's a process where you have to take time to learn it. You're not going to learn it all the first day. You're not going to sit down, look at your playbook once and know it all. It's going to take time in the playbook, time watching film and time on the field, learning from our coaches." — Illinois quarterback NATHAN SCHEELHAASE
— "It's all different, but it's a good different." — Illinois receiver/punter RYAN LANKFORD
— "Everything's been real competitive. We're gaining a winning mentality. Losing is not an option. That's something (the new coaches) have brought in." — Illinois linebacker JONATHAN BROWN