10 days to Camp Rantoul

Counting down the 50 most important Illini

No. 10: Tim Kynard, defensive end

Why he’s important: He provides a veteran presence to a youthful defense. One of only three seniors on the defense, the Toledo native has earned the respect of Tim Beckman with him represting the program at Big Ten Media Days. Kynard compiled 18 tackles last season and recovered two fumbles, but only made one sack. Defensive coordinator Tim Banks — who calls the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Kynard the anchor of Illinois’ defense — would love to see those numbers triple. Or quadruple. He has the starting experience to head into 2013 on a confident note after making 11 starts last season, missing only the Michigan game with an injury. He had a strong showing at Memorial Stadium in mid-April, tallying three sacks for a total of 24 yards lost. Kynard will have to play with a high motor all season long. Illinois has had its share of special defensive ends the last two seasons (Michael Buchanan, Whitney Mercilus). Both went on to get drafted into the NFL. Stay tuned to see if Kynard has a noteworthy season and follows suit.

Fast fact: After redshirting the 2009 season, Kynard has played in 34 of a possible 38 games the last three seasons.

Tomorrow: No. 9

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