40 days to Camp Rantoul
Counting down the 50 most important Illini
No. 40: Joe Spencer, OL
Why he’s important: While the starting offensive line appears like it is most likely established — Simon Cvijanovic at left tackle, Michael Heitz at left guard, Alex Hill at center, Ted Karras at right guard and Austin Schmidt at right tackle — the play of Spencer could throw a wrench in that. The redshirt sophomore appeared in eight games last season, including two starts. He filled in at left guard against Southern Illinois in the season opener (with Heitz shifting to right guard) when Karras went down with a preseason ankle injury and started against Ohio State at right guard (with Heitz moving to left tackle) with Cvijanovic out with an ankle injury. His versatility and run blocking is what the Illini coaches like, and he has the potential to start at all three interior spots on the offensive line. Even if he doesn’t crack the starting lineup this season, he should find himself starting in his final two seasons with the Illini.
Fast fact: Spencer has made himself with his work off the field. The Mason, Ohio native is the president of the Illinois chapter of Uplifting Athletes, the organization that recently put on the Lift for Life event the Illini held at Memorial Stadium.
Last year’s ranking: NA
Tomorrow: No. 39
No. 41: Ralph Cooper