47 days to Camp Rantoul
Counting down the 50 most important Illini
No. 47: Eric Finney, STAR
Why he’s important: It’s wishful thinking to consider what Finney might have done last season. If only a knee injury sustained on the third day of preseason practices didn’t materialize. Finney recorded 16 tackles last season, but lost his starting spot while he recovered from his injury. He played in 10 games last season, starting against Miami (Ohio) and finished with half of a sack against Penn State. The athleticism he brings to the hybrid linebacker/defensive back position is a plus, but with Illinois moving Earnest Thomas to this role, Finney slid down the depth chart this spring. He could still start games in his next two seasons in Champaign, but will see playing time here and there right now instead of finding himself fully immersed in the action.
Fast fact: Finney was familiar with the Big Ten before the junior college transfer arrived in Champaign prior to last season. The California native was teammates with former do-everything Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez at Corona High School.
Last year’s ranking: 31
Tomorrow: No. 46
No. 48: Zeph Grimes