9 days to Camp Rantoul

9 days to Camp Rantoul

Counting down the 50 most important Illini

No. 9: Ted Karras, guard

Why he’s important: Held on to his starting spot throughout all of last season. Was a constant on an otherwise tumultuous offensive line, making all 12 starts at right guard. If he keeps up that rate the next three seasons, and if Illinois can go to a bowl game or two, could leave Illinois as the school’s career leader in all-time starts. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The sophomore is one of three returning starters on an offensive line that was much maligned last year. The unit gave up 39 sacks, worst in the Big Ten and 111th in the country. Not good. At all. Karras will line up at a right guard alongside veteran Corey Lewis, whose experience could prove beneficial to the young talent. If injuries beset Karras, not much experience waits behind him if Illinois doesn’t restructure its offensive line. A healthy Karras, one of few players it seems who went through last year unscathed, could go a long way towards the offensive line, led by new coach A.J. Ricker, putting its troubles of 2012 behind.

Fast fact: Grandfather is Ted Karras, former Chicago Bear, and great uncle is Alex Karras, former All-Pro with the Detroit Lions. Not bad genes for a football player.

Tomorrow: No. 8