8 days to Camp Rantoul
Counting down the 50 most important Illini.
No. 8: Ted Karras, OL
Why he’s important: Has 22 starts next to his name so far. Should have 34 by the time the 2014 regular season ends. If he stays healthy. Which the Indianapolis native has for the most part of his career at Illinois. He missed last year’s season opener against Southern Illinois because of a left ankle injury, but was back on the field for the second game against Cincinnati and didn’t miss any more time. The starting right guard brings a nastiness to the offensive line with his gruff demeanor on the field. He’s the type of lineman new offensive line coach Tom Brattan will most likely rave about during preseason practices for his toughness, his leadership and his grit. His contributions will prove valuable on the right side of the line because Illinois is working in a new right tackle to replace Corey Lewis. Michael Heitz appears like he might have the inside track going into the season at right tackle. The veteran has played the spot before, but not on a regular basis since 2011. Having Karras alongside him should boost his game.
Fast fact: The lineage of members in the Karras family who have played and coached football is long. His father, Ted Karras Jr., was a defensive tackle at Northwestern and is about to start his second season as head coach at Walsh University. The elder Karras went 3-8 in his first season at the Division II school in North Canton, Ohio. The school plays its home games at Fawcett Stadium, the site of Sunday night’s NFL exhibition opener between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills.
Last year’s ranking: No. 9
Tomorrow: No. 7
No. 9: V'Angelo Bentley