29 days to Camp Rantoul

29 days to Camp Rantoul

Counting down the 50 most important Illini

No. 29: Zane Petty, safety

Why he's important: He only has two years of eligibility in Champaign-Urbana. That sense of urgency could serve the California native well. One of five junior college transfers arriving at Illinois last December, Petty had a productive two-year JUCO career. Originally signed with Colorado State out of Corning (Calif.) High School, Petty red-shirted the 2010 season before going the JUCO route. The play-making safety had a dynamic two years at American River College in Sacramento, Calif., combining to make 140 tackles and 11 interceptions in two season. We'll see if he can try to match those numbers by the time he is set to leave Champaign in 2015. First, he has to find his way on the field. Petty missed spring practices with a right arm injury. He should be fully healthy and fully recovered by the time Camp Rantoul arrives. His presence in the secondary could help defensive coordinator Tim Banks out based on his experience. He may not start against Southern Illinois, but chances are he'll need to contribute significantly in 2013.

Fast fact: Former Illinois cornerbacks coach Steve Clinkscale could have mixed feelings on Sept. 7 at Memorial Stadium when Cincinnati visits. Clinkscale, now an assistant with the Bearcats, was the primary recruiter on Petty last season.

Tomorrow: No. 28

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