Daniels: Breaking down Beckman's squad

Daniels: Breaking down Beckman's squad

We asked college football writer MATT DANIELS for a breakdown of Tim Beckman’s third Illinois team. Here goes: (* — projected starter)

15    Aaron Bailey    6-2    225    So.    Bolingbrook/Bolingbrook
Finished his first season at Illinois tied for third on the team in rushing touchdowns with three. Used primarily as running option out of a Wildcat-like setup last season and played in nine games. Likely a backup at start of the season.

16    Man Berg    6-2    200    R-Fr.    Sherman Oaks, Calif./La Salle
If Big Ten had all-conference honors for best name, he would certainly rate a spot on the first team. Son of CBS executive will toss passes in practices, and that’s it, as he sits well behind other QBs on depth chart.

7    Chayce Crouch    6-4    225    Fr.    Granville, Ohio/Newark Catholic
Early enrollee a possible starter ... in 2017 or 2018. Spent the spring trying to grasp Bill Cubit’s offense but has confidence one likes to see at this position.  

*12    Wes Lunt    6-5    225    So.    Rochester/Oklahoma State
The News-Gazette’s 2011 All-State Player of the Year poised to become first quarterback transfer to start a game for the Illini since Jon Beutjer — The N-G’s 1998 All-State Player of the Year who initially went to Iowa —  made his final start against Michigan on Oct. 16, 2004.

4    Reilly O’Toole    6-4    220    Sr.    Wheaton/Wheaton South
Likely Lunt’s backup to start the season, 2010 News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year has appeared in at least six games each of his first three seasons and stands 25 passing yards shy of 1,000 career yards going into this fall.

Running backs
23    Devin Church    5-8    190    So.    Southfield, Mich./Brother Rice
One of the shortest players on the team might see time out wide at a receiver spot, but he could get some carries this season if Josh Ferguson or Donovonn Young falters.

*6    Josh Ferguson    5-10    195    Jr.    Naperville/Joliet Catholic
Injuries marred his first two seasons with the Illini, but a fully healthy Ferguson emerged last season. His 779 rushing yards are the most by a returning Illini since Pierre Thomas rushed for 893 yards in 2004.

25    Kendrick Foster    5-9    200    R-Fr.    Peoria/Richwoods
Foster spent most of last season on the scout team while redshirting. Led the victorious Blue team with 31 rushing yards on seven carries, including a 1-yard score, during spring game.

26    Cameron Tucker    5-8    200    Jr.    River Forest/Nazareth Academy
Walk-on still vying for first game action, as political science major is about to enter third fall with the team and will sport new number after wearing 23 last season.

5    Donovonn Young    6-0    220    Sr.    Houston/Katy
Leading active rusher on the team heading into the season trying to bounce back after he registered career-low 376 rushing yards. Didn’t top 100 yards in any game last year but racked up 80 yards on 11 carries against Miami (Ohio).

Receivers/tight ends
*8    Geronimo Allison    6-4    195    Jr.    Tampa, Fla./Iowa Western CC
Big-bodied target picked Illinois ahead of offers from Colorado State, Florida Atlantic, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Ohio and Utah State last summer before catching 69 passes for 872 yards and eight TDs in 2013 at Iowa Western.

*9    Martize Barr    6-0    195    Sr.    Washington, D.C./Iowa Western CC
Will hope for same magic Steve Hull had last season in wearing No. 9. Former Mike Locksley recruit at New Mexico had 26 catches for 246 yards and one TD in debut season at Illinois donning No. 7.

81    Raphael Barr    6-2    190    So.    Etiwanda, Calif./Citrus College
Late addition to the 2014 recruiting class, Barr committed to Illinois in mid-June. Chose Illini over offers from New Mexico, South Alabama and UAB after 27 receptions for 408 yards and six TDs in only season at junior college.

47    Tim Clary    6-2    250    Jr.    Spring Grove/U. of Dubuque
Former offensive lineman in high school who went Division III out of Richmond-Burton, walk-on can tell grandkids some day about his 33-yard reception — only catch last season — in last year’s season opener against Southern Illinois.

*3    Jon Davis    6-3    240    Sr.    Louisville, Ky./Louisville Eastern
Missed majority of spring ball dealing with a dislocated elbow but should factor significantly into offensive plans after having 25 receptions for 208 yards and two TDs last fall in best season so far as an Illini.

18    Mike Dudek    5-11    185    Fr.    Naperville/Neuqua Valley
Early enrollee stole the show at times during spring ball. Don’t anticipate a redshirt getting used on small-but-speedy wideout who might remind some of Kyle Hudson.

82    Kameron Fry    6-1    200    So.    Urbana/Urbana
History major walked on to Illini prior to 2013 season. Wideout who helped hometown Tigers end 15-game losing streak in 2010 with two TD catches of at least 75 yards didn’t see any action last season at Illinois.

88    Zach Grant    6-0    195    So.    Springfield/Northern Illinois
Illinois is third college for Wes Lunt’s close friend. Grant caught 91 passes for 1,170 yards in 2012 at St. Ambrose, an NAIA school in Davenport, Iowa, before sitting out last season after transferring to Illinois from Northern Illinois.

*19    Justin Hardee    6-1    195    Jr.    Cleveland/Glenville
No matter how many passes he catches or touchdowns he scores this fall, Hardee is on track to earn his bachleor’s degree in communications this December — after only five semesters at Illinois.

89    Dallas Hinkhouse    6-5    245    Jr.    Clive, Iowa/Iowa Western CC
Some questioned whether he’d be big enough to play offensive line when he arrived for preseason practices last fall. Will now try to find playing time at tight end after coaches moved him there this spring.

83    Trevor Kanteman    6-4    245    R-Fr.    Woodland Hills, Calif./Pierce College
Junior college transfer tight end added late to 2013 recruiting class and redshirted last season. Has chance to possibly see the field this season if Matt LaCosse and Jon Davis can’t go. Otherwise, still a year or two from contributing.

84    Kenny Knight    6-4    205    Jr.    Detroit/Country Day
Figured at this time last season he might factor into receiver rotation last fall. But former tight end didn’t see the field at all in 2013, a year after he had five catches for 52 yards.

*11    Matt LaCosse    6-6    250    Sr.    Naperville/Naperville North
Former high school quarterback has transformed himself into a viable option in the passing game. With his size, experience and athleticism, he might double 20 receptions for 237 yards and three TDs he achieved last season.

16    Marchie Murdock    6-1    195    R-Fr.    Arlington, Texas/Legacy
Randy Moss fan has yet to catch a pass during brief Illini career. Only wideout on the team from Texas did not appear in a game last season and redshirted.

30    Jim Nudera    6-1    240    Jr.    Elmhurst/York
Political science major has yet to play in a game at Illinois but enters his second season as a tight end after spending his first two seasons in Champaign as a quarterback.

31    Leslie Poole    5-11    185    Jr.    Schaumburg/Conant
Still looking for first game action after two seasons with Illini but hails from same hometown as former Illinois quarterback and current Illinois radio analyst Kurt Kittner.

2    Tyrin Stone-Davis    6-3    195    So.    Philadelphia/Pierce College  
Last Illini offensive player who donned No. 2 only caught two passes for 32 yards in his career. Of course, that was quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Junior college transfer hopes to top those numbers before September arrives.

13    Dionte Taylor    6-0    190    So.    Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Univ. School
Was the intended target of Aaron Bailey’s first pass at Illinois and later hauled in a 5-yard catch from Reilly O’Toole for his first — and only — reception last season.

86    Malik Turner    6-3    205    Fr.    Springfield/Sacred Heart-Griffin
First-team News-Gazette All-State pick last fall as wideout hauled in 69 catches for 1,378 yards and 22 TDs while helping Cyclones win a Class 5A state title. Starter on the basketball team at SHG last winter.

87    Tyler White    6-5    255    So.    Kalamazoo, Mich./Plainwell
Played in all 12 games as a true freshman, primarily on special teams. Didn’t make any catches, but roommate of Wes Lunt recorded three tackles.

80    Jeremy Whitlow    6-2    215    Jr.    Cleveland/Central Catholic
Back at wide receiver after he went into training camp last year at linebacker. Saw action in three games last season and could turn into special teams contributor this fall.

Offensive linemen
53    Nick Allegretti    6-4    305    Fr.    Frankfort/Lincoln-Way East
Became first Illini to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl since 2009 when center played in 2014 game in San Antonio. Monticello native Rob Zvonar served as Allegretti’s high school coach at Lincoln-Way East.

65    Jake Angona    6-3    275    Fr.    Naperville/Naperville Central
Joined Illini as a walk-on this summer after he helped Redhawks win a Class 8A state title last November at Huskie Field in DeKalb. Blocked for quarterback Jake Kolbe in high school, who is now playing for Illinois State.

78    Harry Black    6-5    280    R-Fr.    Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips
Walk-on redshirted his first season last fall but has added 35 pounds to his frame since last season. Would be a surprise if he sees the field this year given depth Illinois sports along the offensive line.

55    Chris Boles    6-4    320    Jr.    Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic
Highly touted part of Ron Zook’s last recruiting class has yet to play a game at Illinois in three seasons. Will have to fight through a logjam of other options if he were to see any action at guard.

76    Jesse Chadwell    6-5    285    R-Fr.    Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston
Vying for a backup spot at one of the guard spots, big fan of Jake Long redshirted last fall.

70    Peter Cvijanovic    6-6    290    Fr.    Concord Twp., Ohio/East Coast Prep
Lightly recruited out of Benedictine High School in Cleveland, younger brother of Simon spent year at prep school bulking up before accepting Illinois offer last fall. Early enrollee missed most of spring ball recovering from shoulder surgery.

*68    Simon Cvijanovic    6-6    310    Sr.    Cleveland/Benedictine
Second on the team in career starts with 26 finds himself firmly entrenched at left tackle. Main task is to keep Wes Lunt in an upright position and away from any blindsided sacks.

67    Christian DiLauro    6-5    295    R-Fr.    Uniontown, Ohio/Green
Briefly flirted with defensive line role last season, but ultimately former tight end in high school finds himself on other side of the line. Gained nearly 60 pounds since he arrived on campus in January 2013.

64    Steve Dumezich    6-5    285    Fr.    Chicago/Chicago Mount Carmel
Illinois fans sure would like to see running back he blocked for last fall, Matt Domer, in preseason camp. But walk-on started for Class 7A state champions in 2013 and was part of 2012 team that won a Class 8A state title.

60    Tony Durkin    6-3    290    Jr.    Tinley Park/Andrew
Arguably the most talented singer on the team, backup center — still looking for first game action at Illinois — returns after missing all of last season with a shoulder injury.

75    Pat Flavin    6-7    300    Jr.    Lisle/Benet
Tallest member on team appeared in two games last season as backup. Hails from same suburban Chicago school that has produced Big Ten basketball standouts Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin) and Dave Sobolewski (Northwestern).

*74    Michael Heitz    6-6    310    Sr.    Vermont/VIT
Farm management major was an academic All-Big Ten honoree last fall and enters season with more career starts at Illinois than any of his teammates.

*52    Alex Hill    6-3    310    Sr.    Slidell, La./Slidell
Lone Louisiana product on the team, Hill is likely option to start at center once the season rolls around. If he’s not there, should find himself at left guard. Either way, he’s bound to contribute heavily on offensive line.

*69    Ted Karras    6-4    310    Jr.    Indianapolis/Cathedral
Back for another season as the starting right guard, nephew of the late Alex Karras should add to 22 career starts he has already achieved.

66    Scott McDowell    6-5    300    Jr.    Hinsdale/Hinsdale Central
Fan of Derrick Rose and Rashard Mendenhall played in his second career game for Illini against Miami (Ohio) last fall. Reserve at right tackle heading into preseason practices.

73    Chris O’Connor    6-5    300    Jr.    Tinley Park/Andrew
Has played in one game so far, going in for 24 snaps against Miami (Ohio) last season. Former defensive lineman will have more to celebrate if Illini upset Ohio State on Nov. 1 because he turns 22 years old that day.

*57    Austin Schmidt    6-6    295    So.    Galena, Ohio/Olentangy
Didn’t start a game last season but could vie for starting spot at right tackle after playing in 10 games last season, including almost all of the Illini’s loss at Indiana.

71    Joe Spencer    6-4    300    So.    Mason, Ohio/Mason
Played in eight games, making two starts at left guard, last season. If one of the veterans along the line stumbles, or if Schmidt doesn’t develop, could find himself either at left guard or center.

Defensive linemen
96    Rob Bain    6-3    305    So.    Bolingbrook/Bolingbrook
High school teammate of Aaron Bailey one of strongest players on the team. Saw backup action last year at defensive tackle, recording seven tackles in 10 games after Illinois moved him from offensive line to defensive line.

92    Abe Cajuste    6-3    290    Sr.    Miami/Victor Valley College (Calif.)
Nice offer list featured the likes of Arizona State, Kansas State and Pittsburgh, among others, but he only registered one tackle in five games last season. Destined for a backup role this season.

99    Jarrod Clements    6-3    290    So.    Dayton, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison
Provides added depth at defensive tackle and worked alongside Teko Powell much of spring practices. Poised to become a possible two-year starter after this season.

98    Joe Fotu    6-3    285    Jr.    East Oakland, Calif./Laney CC
Junior college transfer who enrolled early and went through spring practices, Fotu will try to earn a spot among crowded defensive tackle situation in effort to see playing time this fall.

95    Jake Howe    6-3    305    Sr.    McHenry/McHenry
After only making two tackles in first three seasons, defensive tackle recovered from broken arm he suffered in 2012 that cost him the final seven games to accumulate 13 tackles in 12 games last season.

97    Paul James    6-4    255    Fr.    Miami/Norland
Academic casualty didn’t see the field last season after going through Camp Rantoul. Showed off potential during spring game with two sacks and a fumble recovery.

*58    Kenny Nelson    6-6    250    Jr.    Detroit/Cass Tech
Advertising major and Academic All-Big Ten honoree spent last season learning from Tim Kynard and could have the edge to claim a defensive end starting spot before Youngstown State arrives.  

94    Tito Odenigbo    6-3    280    Fr.    Centerville, Ohio/Centerville
First commit in the Class of 2014 — whose given first name is Otitodilinna — picked Illinois ahead of offers from host of MAC schools and has added 40 pounds since committing. Could play either end or tackle.

6    Carroll Phillips    6-3    230    So.    Miami/Copiah-Lincoln CC
Cousin of rapper Luther Campbell, he of 2 Live Crew fame and a big Miami Hurricanes fan, figures to contend for playing time at the LEO spot after he had four sacks in lone season of junior college action last year.

*93    Teko Powell    6-3    305    Jr.    Miami/Norland
Showed flashes, at times, last season of what a dominant defensive tackle looks like. If he is able to stay healthy, coaches like the disruptive ability he brings after making 22 tackles and one quarterback hurry in 2013.

85    Brandon Roberts    6-3    265    R-Fr.    Peoria/Richwoods
Walk-on redshirted last year and has put on 15 pounds since the 2013 season. High school teammate of Illini running back Kendrick Foster is a business major who wore No. 41 last season.

*91    Dawuane Smoot    6-3    270    So.    Groveport, Ohio/Groveport-Madison
Julius Peppers fan displayed potential in season finale against Northwestern with four tackles and a sack, making him a favorite to start at LEO once the season gets going.

*44    Austin Teitsma    6-2    290    Sr.    Glen Ellyn/Glenbard South
Needs to turn those three QB hurries from a year ago into three sacks. Poised to start his second straight year, gregarious personality compiled career-best 53 tackles and, at 23 years old, is the oldest player on the team.

17    Jihad Ward    6-6    295    Jr.    Philadelphia/Globe Tech
Junior college transfer, who played wide receiver in high school, committed to Illinois last December ahead of offers from South Florida, Temple, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia after developing tight bond with Bill Cubit.

90    DeJazz Woods    6-3    255    Sr.    Tampa, Fla./Robinson
Compiled 17 tackles and played in all 12 games last season. Will contend with Smoot and possibly James for starting spot at LEO. Provides veteran leadership and graduated in May with degree in recreation, sport and tourism.

10    B.J. Bello    6-3    225    So.    New Lenox/Lincoln-Way West
Saw action in four games last season and in mix for a backup role among the linebackers after Illinois moved him back there from the STAR position in the spring.

42    Ralph Cooper    6-1    240    Sr.    Winnsboro, S.C./Fairfield Central
If healthy — Cooper missed five games last season — veteran could find his way into playing rotation if he continues solid showing this fall that he had in the spring.

5    James Crawford    6-2    215    R-Fr.    Deerfield, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas
Redshirted first season in Champaign but has put on 20 pounds since arriving at Illinois. Late pickup to 2013 recruiting class, Crawford could find himself moved to strong safety later in his career.

39    Nathan Echard    6-2    230    R-Fr.    Eureka, Mo./Eureka
Walk-on who joined team last summer after playing on same high school team as long snapper Zach Hirth didn’t see the field during 2013 season.

14    Eric Finney    6-0    220    Jr.    Riverside, Calif./College of the Canyons
Preseason knee injury derailed start of his 2013 season as then-projected starter finished with 16 tackles in 10 games. In line to possibly reclaim starting role at STAR spot once 2015 hits.

46    Jason Goldsmith    6-2    215    Fr.    Highland Park/Highland Park
Walk-on joined team this summer after helping his high school reach playoffs for first time since 2010 and making 79 tackles.

33    Zeph Grimes    5-11    225    Jr.    Bamberg, S.C./Bamberg-Ehrhardt
Special teams contributor last season should find himself in same role if his early play doesn’t get him on the field at the STAR position.

29    Nelson Lugo    5-11    200    So.    Franklin Park/East Leyden
Walk-on who redshirted in 2012 didn’t get in any games last season but is making the move from the secondary to the STAR position.

45    Henry McGrew    6-3    235    Fr.    Overland Park, Kan./Blue Valley
Lone player who calls Kansas his home state, he helped Blue Valley win a Class 5A state title last fall while racking up 159 tackles. Don’t be shocked if he grows and moves to defensive line during Illini career.

*43    Mason Monheim    6-1    235    Jr.    Orrville, Ohio/Orrville
Named to Butkus Award watch list in July, he has started 22 games already in his career. Needs 17 tackles to reach 200, which could happen against Youngstown State in season opener.

*52    T.J. Neal    6-1    235    So.    McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport
Favorite linebacker is Ray Lewis, and Tyrone — his first name — sports the same number as the former Baltimore Raven. He’s not as fiery as Lewis, but expect his tackle total to possibly double from the 38 he made last fall.

36    Austin Roberts    6-2    230    Fr.    Rice Lake, Wis./Rice Lake
Biology major chose Illinois ahead of offers from Army, Air Force and Central Michigan. Made 46 tackles in three games at Rice Lake last fall but missed majority of senior season with a torn ACL. Fully recovered from injury now.

49    Conner Schmidt    5-11    195    R-Fr.    Lincoln/Lincoln
One of three former Central State Eight Conference players on the roster, walk-on who joined Illini prior to start of 2013 season redshirted last fall.

34    Mike Svetina    6-2    235    Jr.    Brunswick, Ohio/St. Ignatius
Don’t anticipate seeing him at the STAR spot this season but expect him on the field at some point. Moved back to an inside linebacker spot to better suit his skills. Only needs three tackles to hit 100 for his career.

*9    Earnest Thomas    6-2    210    Sr.    Southfield, Mich./St. Mary’s
How he fares moving into the STAR position will be closely monitored. Leading returning tackler after he finished second on the team with 101 tackles, fifth-year senior is tied for fifth in school history with six forced fumbles.

22    LaKeith Walls    6-2    215    So.    Cleveland/Rhodes
Has shuffled back and forth between linebacker and running back in first two seasons. After he redshirted in 2012, pre-education major played in eight games last fall, picking up 12 rushing yards on two carries against Miami (Ohio).

55    Tre Watson    6-2    240    Fr.    Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic
Only Florida prep product who signed in February, son of former NFL player Tim Watson chose Illini ahead of Air Force, Central Florida, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee, South Florida and Virginia.

35    Sean White    6-0    230    So.    Casey/Casey-Westfield
Walk-on who joined team prior to 2012 and redshirted that season didn’t play in any games last fall. His high school played at Memorial Stadium in 2011 Class 2A state title game, but White missed it with an injury.

Defensive backs
25    Sean Arowolaju    6-0    195    So.    Matteson/Rich South
Walk-on who joined Illinois in summer of 2012 has yet to play in any games so far with the Illini. Earned letters in four sports — football, track and field, wrestling and baseball — at Rich South.

*3    Taylor Barton    6-1    215    So.    Orlando, Fla./Lake Highland Prep
In line to start at strong safety a year after he entered preseason practices the starter at free safety, where he started the first five games last year. Will have to fend off competition after he made 34 tackles and one interception last season.

*2    V’Angelo Bentley    5-10    190    Jr.    Cleveland/Glenville
Had kickoff return for TD and punt return for TD last year to go along with 22 tackles and lone interception by an Illini corner. Already has his name on Paul Hornung Award watch list, given to country’s most versatile player.

8    Dillan Cazley    5-10    190    So.    Charleston/Charleston
Mainly a special teams contributor in his true freshman season last fall. Should still fill that role again this season but might factor into competition at strong safety if he has solid fall camp.

7    Caleb Day    6-1    200    So.    Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby
Strong possibility he wrests a starting cornerback spot away from Eaton Spence. Still think his best days are ahead of him at a safety spot but has athleticism and size to become top-notch Big Ten corner.

26    Cedric Doxy    6-2    220    So.    Calumet City/Thornwood
Has ideal size for either free safety or strong safety, but walk-on who joined Illinois in 2012 still in backup role. Had four carries for 5 yards during spring game, showing lack of depth Illini have at running back, too.

28    Jaylen Dunlap    6-1    185    So.    Chicago/Crete-Monee
Confident cornerback not afraid of taking on any wideout. Should find himself on the field again this season after he earned rave reviews at times during true freshman season last fall.

20    Clayton Fejedelem    6-1    195    Jr.    Lemont/St. Xavier
Eligible after sitting out last season because of transfer rules, physical and hard-hitting Fejedelem could factor into race to claim the starting strong safety gig.

38    Samuel Harlib    6-0    180    R-Fr.    Las Vegas/Army & Navy Academy
Walk-on didn’t play last season but is second-generation Illinois football player after father, Dennis Flynn, was a defensive lineman for Illini from 1977 to ’81.

30    Julian Hylton    6-0    195    Fr.    Tinley Park/Lincoln-Way North
Keep an eye on if speedster will stay in defensive backfield and not move to running back given depth issues Illinois has at the position, and given that first-team News-Gazette All-State pick rushed for 2,522 yards, 32 TDs in his last prep season.

32    Chris James    5-11    185    Fr.    Orange, Texas/West Orange-Stark
Late addition to the 2014 recruiting class as he committed a day before Signing Day in February. No known relation to former Illinois wide receiver Chris James, who played three seasons in C-U last decade.

4    Darwyn Kelly    6-1    210    R-Fr.    Upper Marlboro, Md./H.D. Woodson
Redshirted last season and was making progress this spring to possibly solidify the backup free safety role before a right foot injury sidelined him in early March.

37    Davontay Kwaaning    5-11    190    Sr.    Chicago/Lindblom
Walk-on who joined Illini for 2012 season tied for Blue team lead with seven tackles in April’s spring game after he made lone appearance last season against Washington and compiled a tackle against the Huskies.

15    Jevaris Little    6-0    190    So.    St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood
Backup is a candidate to see time at one of the two safety positions, likely at free safety. He played in all 12 games last season, winding up with six tackles in his first season after redshirting in 2012.

24    Darius Mosely    5-11    190    So.    O’Fallon/O’Fallon
Played in all 12 games last season as a true freshman, including three starts, and made 36 tackles. In contention for a starting cornerback spot this fall in the secondary and could serve as viable option in the return game, too.

31    Nick North    6-1    200    Jr.    Hollywood, Fla./McArthur
Reserve didn’t see any action last season and has one game appearance — Charleston Southern in 2012 — next to his name. Had a pass breakup and a pass-interference penalty during the spring game.

*21    Zane Petty    6-1    205    Sr.    Corning, Calif./American River Coll.
Causing more takeaways, which he did his first two seasons of junior college football before he transferred to Illinois, is a priority for fourth-leading tackler from 2013 team who should start at free safety.

*27    Eaton Spence    6-0    185    Jr.    Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Day
Has 14 starts in career, including all 12 last season. Cornerback might work his way into the fray at strong safety if his tackling skills (49 stops, including 14 against Washington) keep improving.

23    Dennis Thurow    6-1    205    R-Fr.    Naperville/Neuqua Valley
Walk-on redshirted last year after joining team prior to season. Scored perfect 36 on his ACT, and the civil engineering major sports a GPA close to 4.0.

*18    Justin DuVernois    6-1    190    Sr.    Plantation, Fla./St. Thomas Aq.
About to enter his fourth season as a starter. He doesn’t have to worry about any wide receiver rugby-punting past him this fall if he stays consistent like he did last season in having sixth-best average among Big Ten punters.

13    Ryan Frain    6-2    220    So.   Indianapolis/Scecina
Backup punter and kicker connected on only two extra-point attempts he’s had so far in career during win last season against Miami (Ohio).

*54    Zach Hirth    6-4    220    So.   Eureka, Mo./Eureka
Has chance to put stranglehold on starting spot at long snapper after 2013 saw him execute his snaps nearly flawlessly in every situation.

56    Michael Martin    6-4    225    So.    Champaign/Centennial
Lone Centennial product didn’t play last season, serving as Hirth’s backup. Mechanical engineering major likely will fill that same role this fall.

38    David Reisner    6-0    195    So.    Bartlett/Navy
Never played with the Midshipmen and is still waiting for first game action at Illinois. Walk-on who joined team in spring 2013 made two extra points in the spring game and connected on a 34-yard field goal.  

40    Ryan Tucker    6-3    185    Fr.    Chicago/Marist
Walk-on was an East Suburban Catholic All-Conference selection last fall and was a four-year letter winner in football and basketball. Dad Larry was an eighth-round draft pick in the 1983 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

83    Brennen VanMieghem    6-2    190    Sr.    Metamora/Metamora
Walk-on still waiting, after three seasons with the team, for first chance to kick a field goal or extra point in the fall. Was busy during the spring game, when he made all three of his extra-point attempts.

*17    Taylor Zalewski    6-3    220    Jr.    Orland Park/Carl Sandburg
Bound to handle kickoffs for the third straight season and all place kicks for the second consecutive season. Economics major has made one field goal from at least 50 yards each of the last two seasons.

Tim Beckman    Head coach    Toledo
Of the 27 new coaches in 2012, 21 remain. Only two, Norm Chow with Hawaii and Charlie Weiss with Kansas, have won fewer games than the third-year Illini boss.

Tim Banks    Defensive coordinator/secondary    Cincinnati
Total defense ranked 110th in the country last fall during second year he was in charge of group.

Bill Cubit    Offensive coordinator/QBs    Western Michigan
Former head coach orchestrated rapid improvement in unit last fall, registering nation’s 22nd-best passing offense.

Mike Bellamy    Wide receivers    Clark
Former Illini who caught passes from Jeff George entering second season in this gig after joining staff in 2012 as assistant director of player personnel and relations.

Tom Brattan    Offensive line    Maryland
Newest addition to the staff hired in mid-July after 13 seasons in same position with the Terrapins.

Greg Colby    Defensive line    Millersville
About to start second season with Beckman, and 10th overall at Illinois after he worked under Lou Tepper and John Mackovic.    

Alex Golesh    Recruiting coord./RBs/tight ends    Toledo
Youngest assistant on staff at 30 years old about to start seventh season with Beckman.

Tim Salem    Special teams coordinator    Central Florida
Part of Beckman’s first staff at Illinois now focusing solely on special teams after coaching running backs and special teams his first two seasons.

Al Seamonson    Outside linebackers    Central Florida
Starting his second season at Illinois, former Wisconsin wide receiver works with LEO and STAR positions, and was integral in bringing Brattan on board.

Mike Ward    Inside linebackers    Toledo
Embarking on third season at Illinois after working with Beckman at Toledo and Bowling Green.


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JimOATSfan wrote on August 03, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Didn't Jeff George Jr enrol at QB this fall?

neal stoner wrote on August 04, 2014 at 11:08 am

Where is TJ Moss?