Pair of Illini make watch lists

Pair of Illini make watch lists

Two Illinois football players found their name on preseason national award watch lists on Monday.

Linebacker Mason Monheim was one of 51 linebackers named to the Butkus Award watch list, and tight end Matt LaCosse was one of 42 tight ends put on the College Football Performance Awards Tight End Trophy list.

Monheim made 97 tackles last fall, third-best on the team, including 6 1/2 tackles for loss and forced a fumble. This came after he had a team-leading 86 tackles in 2012, the first time a true freshman led Illinois in tackles.

“I feel like I just got here,” Monheim said, “but I feel I have a lot of experience to bring to the team and bring my best qualities for the good of the team.”

Monheim is the third straight linebacker Illinois has had on the Butkus Award watch list. Semifinalists will be named in late October and finalists determined in late November before the award — named after former Illinois linebacker Dick Butkus — is handed out in early December. The last Illini to win the Butkus was Kevin Hardy in 1995. Other Big Ten linebackers on the watch list are Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil from Maryland, Taiwan Jones from Michigan State, Curtis Grant from Ohio State, Mike Hull from Penn State and Jake Ryan from Michigan.

LaCosse joins Jake Duzey from Iowa, Jake Butt from Michigan, Josiah Price from Michigan State, Maxx Williams from Minnesota, Jeff Heuerman from Ohio State, Kyle Carter and Jesse James from Penn State and Justin Sinz from Purdue among Big Ten tight ends named to the CFPA Tight End Trophy watch list. LaCosse hauled in 20 receptions for 237 yards and three touchdowns last fall.

“Tight end is still such a developmental position, and in our offense, we expect them to come in and contribute because they can run around and do some things athletically,” Illinois tight ends coach Alex Golesh said. “I’m really confident with Matt. Matt had a lot of work to do. I think he’s had a really good offseason and still has a lot of work to do but has come a long way. That kid’s best days are ahead of him.”

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