33 days to Camp Rantoul

33 days to Camp Rantoul

Counting down the 50 most important Illini

No. 33: Eaton Spence, defensive back

Why he’s important: Should fill a starting cornerback spot this fall. The red-shirt sophomore played in all 12 games last season, making starts against Wisconsin and Michigan, and compiled 16 tackles while hauling in one interception. The Illinois coaches would obviously like to see those numbers improve this season. He has the size at 6-foot, 180 pounds to not let bigger wide receivers man-handle him. And the year he saw on the field last year while also picking up pointers from the likes of Justin Green and Terry Hawthorne should benefit him even more this season. Illinois needs to force more takeaways this season on defense, a concept with which it struggled mightily with in 2012. Spence’s development could play a key role in that area.

Fast fact: Spence helped Glades Day (Fla.) High School win back-to-back state titles in 2009 and 2010 while playing running back, wide receiver and defensive back.

Tomorrow: No. 32

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