Camp Rantoul report Day 4: Brown leads by example

Camp Rantoul report Day 4: Brown leads by example

Beat writer Bob Asmussen's report from Day 4:



For the first time at Camp Rantoul, Friday's practice will be full pads and full contact. With the entire team.

Illinois had split practices the first three days, then had a combined session Thursday.

"It's a different tempo, and it was a different practice schedule," Illinois coach TIM BECKMAN said.

"We're pushing the effort. Those first three football games, they are going to be hot ones. Even at our place with 11 a.m. kickoffs. We've got to get ourselves mentally tough."

During his time as an Ohio State assistant, Beckman and the Buckeyes had a nonconference game at steamy Texas.

"We preached hydration and doing those things to keep your body fresh," Beckman said.

It worked. Ohio State won 24-7 in 2006.


In his first two years at Illinois, JONATHAN BROWN deferred to the older linebackers, MARTEZ WILSON, IAN THOMAS, etc. But the junior is now the guy all the other linebackers are looking up to.

"In everything I do, I try to set an example," Brown said. "We've got a lot of young guys. We've got a lot of guys who haven't played much. I don't necessarily have to be more vocal, just do things right."

Brown is happy with the start of Camp Rantoul, which has been shortened this season to a week.

"Adjusting to the changes, that's been something new," Brown said. "But I think our guys have done a good job of doing it. And we're going to continue to do a good job of doing it, play like a champion. Hopefully, we go get that Big Ten championship."

Brown has been named to several preseason All-Big Ten team and awards' watch lists.

"It's definitely a blessing and an honor to be on those lists, for people to think that highly of me," Brown said. "Now, we've got to go out and execute."

What's his top goal?

"Thirteen wins," Brown said.


Apparently, some of the Penn State players aren't happy about RYAN NOWICKI's move to Illinois. One of them, senior cornerback STEPHON MORRIS, called out Nowicki during a Thursday media session.

"I'm gonna say what I'm gonna say," Morris said in a story by "That's like me saying I'm gonna transfer to Michigan — how would they feel? No, that's a coward move to me."


Illinois defensive end TIM KYNARD has Olympic bragging rights on the rest of his teammates. It's a family thing.

On Tuesday, Erik Kynard won the silver medal in the men's high jump. The Kansas State track standout is Kynard's distant cousin. Like Tim, Erik is from Toledo, Ohio.

"We go to the same family reunions back at home," Kynard said. "I was following him on Twitter. I'm real proud of him."

Kynard wasn't able to watch it live. But he saw the highlights, with a Russian jumper winning while wearing a T-shirt.

"Cheaters," Kynard said.

Erik Kynard is young by Olympic standards, and Tim expects him to continue in the sport.

"Keeping the Kynard name going," Kynard said. Another relative plays basketball at Ohio State.

Did Tim Kynard ever try the high jump? "No chance," Kynard said. "I shot put freshman year, and I wasn't good at it."

But he is good at football, moving up the depth chart at Illinois in his junior season. With JUSTIN STAPLES suspended for the opener because of a DUI charge, Kynard is likely to start against Western Michigan.

"We worked real hard this summer," Kynard said. "I think it's going to be a good year for us."

Kynard is ready to go against the Broncos.

"I was behind Whitney Mercilus last year, so I got to play, but I didn't get that many reps," Kynard said. "I'm looking forward to getting this opportunity to play."


Beckman likes to see his guys compete. In everything. Including helmet wear.

All of the newcomers have a stripe on their helmet. It stays there until they earn the right to have it taken off.

At the end of each practice, one of the newcomers is going to get destriped. On Thursday, it was safety TOMMY DAVIS, a transfer from Northern Illinois.

He got to take the stripe off his helmet and put it on a dry-erase board. He signed his name next to it, signaling the end of newcomerism. And he was given a T-shirt that reads "Invest."

"Tommy worked hard, and he's done a lot of great things for us," Beckman said. "We talked about it as a staff, and he got 10 votes."

The newcomers each are assigned a big brother. For Davis, it was fellow safety Earnest Thomas, who went in front of the team with his protege.

"I had a plan that I was going to make sure he was the first one," Thomas said. "We got that done."


The team will have a single session at 9 a.m. Friday. On Saturday, the first double session is scheduled, with practices at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

POSITION WATCH: Defensive line

Maybe it makes sense that the coach with the most experience at Illinois, fourth-year assistant KEITH GILMORE, has the most experienced guys at his position.

Two seniors, MICHAEL BUCHANAN and JUSTIN STAPLES, are starting defensive ends. The top backup is junior TIM KYNARD.

At tackle, fourth-year junior AKEEM SPENCE is drawing preseason award attention. And the other returning starter is fifth-year senior GLENN FOSTER, who went from undersized tackle to 280-pound force.

The backups at tackle, AUSTIN TEITSMA and JAKE HOWE, are in their third seasons with the program.

The only real spot of youth is at defensive end, where redshirt freshmen DARRIUS CALDWELL, JOHN VALENTINE and KENNY NELSON are backing up the starters.

With Spence and Buchanan likely a part of the 2013 NFL draft, Gilmore figures to send at least two more players to pro football. In recent years, he has had COREY LIUGET and WHITNEY MERCILUS drafted in the first round.

It's the kind of growing tradition that the folks in the NFL — and the high school recruits — will start to notice.


When he first came to Illinois, linebackers coach MIKE WARD knew he had an All-Big Ten player in Jonathan Brown.

"He's in great shape, probably the best shape of his life," Ward said. "As a result, he's first in every drill. He's flying around. He's making plays. I've been pleased with him."

Brown was suspended for a game in 2011 after he punched a Northwestern player in the groin area. Ward is aware of the incident.

"Those officials meet, and they go over these things, and they are well aware of who No. 45 is," Ward said. "Yes, we've got to address that with him. He's great. We turn it into a positive."

Three scholarship freshmen — MASON MONHEIM, T.J. NEAL and MIKE SVETINA — joined sophomores HOUSTON BATES, RALPH COOPER and HENRY DICKINSON.

"All three of the true freshmen have been impressive," Ward said. "We're throwing a lot at them right now, but it's been good. We're excited about them."

Bates leads at the linebacker spot opposite Brown, though Dickinson is pushing for playing time.

Ward said he is enjoying his first Camp Rantoul.

"Never a dull moment," Ward said.

Ward has never been involved in a training session away from campus.

"It's great," Ward said. "You get away, and guys are focused. I think we're up here just long enough. We'll change the venue and get at it again."


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


Obama or Romney? Obama

Olympic event(s) you had to watch? USA basketball/Michael Phelps

Favorite stadium to visit? Big House

1992 Dream Team or 2012 version? 1992 Dream Team all day

RG3 or Andrew Luck? RG3

Teammate who should be on "America's Got Talent"? Reilly O'Toole

How many days would you like to stay in Camp Rantoul? No more than five

Four-team playoff or BCS? Four-team playoff

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

Which current Illinois coach looks like he still can play? None

Other than a teammate, who is your Heisman favorite? Matt Barkley

You are in charge of music at Memorial Stadium. What's on? Thunderstruck


Obama or Romney? Romney

Olympic event you had to watch? Handball

Favorite stadium to visit? Ohio Stadium

1992 Dream Team or 2012 version? 2012

RG3 or Andrew Luck? Andrew Luck

Teammate who should be on "America's Got Talent"? Mason Monheim

How many days would you like to stay in Camp Rantoul? Seven days

Four-team playoff or BCS? Four-team playoff

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

Which current Illinois coach looks like he still can play? Luke Butkus

Other than a teammate, who is your Heisman favorite? Matt Barkley

You are in charge of music at Memorial Stadium. What's on? Eminem

Categories (3):Illini Sports, Football, Sports

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Bear8287 wrote on August 10, 2012 at 11:08 am

The lead into this story on the home page reads,

"Beat writer Bob Asmussen's report from Day 4:IN THE NEWSHITTING TIMEFor the first time at... "

Someone might want to take the time to hit the "space" key a couple of more times before posting the copy online...  :-)