Dunlap on the mend

Dunlap on the mend

CHAMPAIGN — Jaylen Dunlap wanted to spend Monday morning at the Illinois pro day running sprints and showing his secondary skills.

Instead, the former Illini defensive back stayed on the sidelines, rooting for his buddies.

Dunlap is recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee.

He suffered the injury in January while preparing for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

"I got an interception and was returning it," Dunlap said. "I cut off of it and it just felt weird. I didn't know exactly what it was. I got it checked by a few doctors."

The all-star game practices had gone well for Dunlap, who led both teams in interceptions throughout the week.

Dunlap hasn't given up his dream of playing pro football. He just has to push back the start date.

Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery Feb. 7 in Florida. Same doctor as Adrian Peterson and teammate Mikey Dudek.

"There's definitely disappointment not being able to go out there and perform and show my capabilities," Dunlap said, "I think everything happens for a reason. I can just do my part and go hard in physical therapy and rehab."

Dunalp's goal is to be in a training camp, and he said he expects to be ready for football in about five or six months.

He talked to the scouts during Monday's pro day to "let them know I'm not in a hole."

Road to recovery

Dunlap wasn't the only former Illini slowed Monday by a bad wheel.

Receiver Malik Turner is recovering from foot surgery. He was able to lift weights during pro day, but wasn't able to run.

"I only could do the measurables and the bench," Turner said. "I was shooting for 20 (reps) on the bench, but I came short with 17."

What's next for Turner

"Get healthy," he said. "I stay in contact with as many teams as I can. I'll be back on my feet."

Turner finished tied for ninth on the school's career receptions list.

He had surgery two weeks ago and hopes to be back in about two months.

"This day is what I've been looking forward to ever since I was little," said Turner, a Springfield native. "Everything has been set back because of this (injury). My faith is strong. "

Turner will graduate in May with a degree sports management.

Fast Foster

His senior year didn't go the way Kendrick Foster hoped it would.

The highly touted running back lost his starting job during the season before returning to the top of the depth chart late.

"I make the most of it," Foster said. "I can't be bitter about it. I was bitter, but I'm over it. I'm moving on. It's all about maturity."

Now, the Peoria native is looking ahead to the next step in his career,

"I've been preparing for this my whole life," Foster said. "It wasn't like I started preparing for this in January. I had this goal for a lifetime. I think I did pretty well."

Foster ran fast times in the 40, clocking in at 4.37 seconds.

"I showed some of the scouts what I can do," Foster said. "I give credit to running track in high school. I'm just thankful for this opportunity."

Foster said he has workouts lined up with NFL teams.

"I have to go back to the drawing board and get back to work." Foster said. "Football is football. I didn't try to make it bigger than what it was. At the end of the day, it's what I was born to do."

To prepare for Monday's timing day, Foster spent time in Texas training at Michael Johnson Performance.

"It was an awesome experience," Foster said.

Former Illini James Crawford — who played defensive end, linebacker and defensive back with the Illini — worked out with Foster in Texas. Crawford's pro day ended early when he suffered a hamstring injury during the 40 timing.

"It was unfortunte," Foster said. "He was doing really well at workouts in Texas. You could see how athletic he was."

Strong start

As Illinois coach Lovie Smith says goodbye to the seniors, he is looking ahead to future classes.

Smith isn't allowed talk about prospective recruits until they sign with the school.

"Since I can't talk much about recruiting, I kind of listen and watch a little bit," Smith said. "I heard that there was some good news that came around this weekend."

On Saturday, Illinois received a verbal commitment from Marquez Beason, a star receiver from Dallas Bishop Dunne.

He is ranked among the nation's Top 100 recruits, according to Rivals.com.

Beason picked Illinois over LSU, Ohio State and Texas A&M. He is the first Illinois commitment for the Class of 2019.

Beason was one of 53 players on campus Saturday for a junior day. Smith was pleased with the high turnout.

"We think our future's bright," Smith said. "Others see that. We're trending upward. A lot of good things happening.

"To get people to come out early and say 'Hey, I buy into the vision of our program' is big."

There is momentum in recruiting, Smith said. "Nowadays with social media, it seems like it's instant when somebody decides to do something."

Smith said Illinois recruiting "is in great shape. Our recruiting classes will continue to get better and better each year."