5 days to Camp Rantoul
Counting down the 50 most important Illini.
No. 5: Simon Cvijanovic, OL
Why he’s important: A starter in 11 games last season at left tackle, Cvijanovic is back to resume his hold at one of the most critical spots along the offensive line. With as much as Illinois likes to pass, and with the capabilities Wes Lunt has on his right arm, making sure Lunt doesn’t get crushed too often with blind-side hits is Cvijanovic’s job description this fall. A solid 2014 season could transform Cvijanovic into a possible NFL draft pick. Not bad considering the two-star recruit out of Cleveland only had offers from Bowling Green, Ohio and Toledo coming out of Benedictine High School. Cvijanovic missed most of the game at Indiana last season and then didn’t play against Ohio State because of an ankle injury he sustained against the Hoosiers, but that was the only injury setback Cvijanovic had last season. He’s aggressive and isn’t afraid to speak his mind, which was clear at Big Ten Media Days when he talked openly about not getting highly-recruited out of high school and the impression that left on him.
Fast fact: Good thing announcers have had time to work on pronouncing Cvijanovic’s name the past few seasons. His younger brother, Peter, signed with Illinois as part of the 2014 recruiting class and enrolled early after playing the 2013 season at East Coast Prep in Massachusetts.
Last year’s ranking: No. 4
Tomorrow: No. 4
No. 6: Reilly O'Toole