Daniels: A look at the left guards

Daniels: A look at the left guards

Illinois football beat writer Matt Daniels gives the inside scoop on how position battles are faring for the Illini during preseason camp. Today’s glance hones in on the left guards:

Who has left?
No one. Illinois only graduated two offensive linemen from last season — Corey Lewis and Jake Feldmeyer — and neither was used at left guard. The same sentence won’t write itself before the 2015 season, but plenty of experience returns for the Illini.

Who has returned?
Michael Heitz, Alex Hill, Joe Spencer, Tony Durkin and Chris Boles. Illinois could go with Heitz, Hill or Spencer at this spot, and a player who started at least one time at this position would fill the role. Heitz is the most experienced at left guard, but seems destined to start at right tackle, moving Hill — who started the final three games here last season — to become the likely starter at left guard.

Who’s new?
Nick Allegretti. Center is the likely destination for the true freshmen, but has the talent and wherewithal to immerse himself at left guard. If the situation arises. Which, given the depth Illinois has with veterans like Heitz, Hill and Spencer, It doesn’t seem likely Illinois would use him there this fall.  

Who will start against Youngstown State?
Hill. The fifth-year senior came to Illinois to play center, but he handles himself just fine at left guard, too. He’ll need to cut down on some penalties that hurt Illinois at times last season, but his added maturity and knowledge of the offensive system is a bonus for the Illini.

What they’re saying
“I don’t care where I play as long as I get to play and spend my last year at this wonderful university. I’ll help out in any way that I can. Wherever they put me, that’s where I’m going to play.” — Hill

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