CHAMPAIGN — One of the more highly touted recruits for Illinois in the Class of 2012 won’t get a chance to finish his career with the Illini.
Illinois football coach Tim Beckman dismissed running back Dami Ayoola from the team Tuesday. No explanation was given other than a violation of team rules, and when asked about Ayoola on Monday, Beckman did not give any details.
He didn’t provide many more Tuesday evening after Illinois finished practice at Memorial Stadium.
“I think the statement stated it for us that we let out earlier (Tuesday),” Beckman said. “He’s been taken off the roster due to team rules and regulations. I want the best for our kids, there’s no question about that. I want to help and be involved, but we have certain rules and regulations here, and we’re going to abide by those.”
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native played his prep career at St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High School and rushed for 117 yards last season at Illinois. His best game came in a 44-0 win against Charleston Southern in which he rushed for 55 yards on eight carries.
Ayoola’s departure means there now are two former St. Thomas Aquinas players at Illinois. Punter Justin DuVernois and STAR James Crawford also played at St. Thomas Aquinas, which features a top recruiting target for Illinois in the Class of 2014 in running back Madre London.
Of the 19 players Beckman signed in his first recruiting class, 15 are still with the team. Ayoola joins J.J. Robertson, Ta’Jarvis Fuller and Daniel Rhodes as players who are no longer on the roster.
Ayoola’s dismissal elevates Devin Church and LaKeith Walls on the depth chart behind Donovonn Young and Josh Ferguson.
“I was shocked,” Church said upon learning about Ayoola. “Things happen. You’ve just got to move on. Best of luck to him.”
Young said it’s sad knowing Ayoola is gone.
“It was almost heartbreaking seeing somebody that we spent so much time with and grew with,” Young said. “It’s tough to see him go, but life goes on. We’ve just got to keep it moving, and he does, too.”