17 days to Camp Rantoul
Counting down the 50 most important Illini.
No. 17: Austin Teitsma, DT
Why he’s important: The fifth-year senior had his most productive season of any so far last fall. He finished sixth on the team with 53 tackles, including 5 1/2 for loss and half of a sack. Teitsma also added three quarterback hurries and forced one fumble. He’ll need to produce similar-type numbers, if not better, this season. He was durable last season, starting all 12 games. Illinois is counting on him to stay healthy again this season. The former state qualifier in wrestling and track and field during his high school career at Glenbard South has endeared himself to teammates and coaches with his work ethic, along with an upbeat personality. Another way he can leave a favorable impression on the fans is if he helps strengthen a porous run defense from a year ago. The sack numbers don’t have to necessarily come from Teitsma, but his ability to plug gaps along the line and make it difficult for opposing ball carriers could go a long way towards a bowl berth or a missed bowl berth by Illinois this season.
Fast fact: The Glen Ellyn native will represent the Chicago suburban area next week when he takes part in Big Ten Media Days at the Chicago Hilton. Teitsma is one of five Illinois prep players who will find themselves answering questions, joining Iowa running back Mark Weisman (Stevenson), Nebraska safety Corey Cooper (Proviso East), Purdue linebacker Sean Robinson (Rochester) and Wisconsin defensive tackle Warren Herring (Belleville East) among the 42 players the league will have on hand.
Last year’s ranking: No. 13
Tomorrow: No. 16
No. 18: Dawuane Smoot