4 days to Camp Rantoul
Counting down the 50 most important Illini.
No. 4: Mason Monheim, LB
Why he’s important: Increased his tackle totals to 97 in 2013 after he was the first true freshman to lead Illinois in tackles when he made 86 stops in 2012. Registering at least 100 tackles this season isn’t out of the realm of possibility for the Ohio native, who was named to the Butkus Award watch list earlier this summer. The starting middle linebacker in all 12 games last fall, Monheim might start the season opener against Youngstown State at the weakside linebacker slot Jonathan Brown occupied last season. Either way, expect Monheim to see the field plenty this season. He has seven double-digit tackle games next to his name, the most of anyone on the Illinois roster. Getting after the quarterback and creating more turnovers are two focal points Monheim could work to improve upon this season. He has one interception in his career and has forced three fumbles. The former high school swimmer has worked to increase his strength each his season, and enters 2014 poised for the possibility of earning All-Big Ten honors.
Fast fact: Monheim is one of 182 nominees from every level of college football for the Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. The honor is not only for players’ accomplishments on the field, but for their work off the field. Monheim, the son of a dentist, has volunteered with the Smile Healthy program to promote good oral hygiene, has led a bible study group on campus and has mentored freshmen athletes at Illinois.
Last year’s ranking: No. 6
Tomorrow: No. 3
No. 5: Simon Cvijanovic