Football

Football

After 40 years, 'Penny' host ready for big change

Listen to Jim's final show here.

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He has been filling the airwaves for decades, both as voice of the Illini and as host of the popular "Penny For Your Thoughts."

Ford spurns Illini, chooses Georgia

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois was a finalist for four-star tight end Luke Ford. But the Carterville prospect picked an SEC school that is in the national semifinals.

Ford, a member of The News-Gazette All-State Special Mention 100, will play for Kirby Smart at Georgia. The Bulldogs have the nation's No. 1 recruiting class.

Early returns for UI football on the recruiting trail

Calvin Avery, DT

6-2, 310, Dallas, Texas

The centerpiece of the 2018 class, Avery is a consensus four-star recruit ranked No. 156 in the nation and as the No. 9 defensive tackle by Rivals.

Reuben Unije, OL

6-6, 300, Bradenton, Fla.

Illini scour Florida, Texas

CHAMPAIGN — What's a signing day, or in Wednesday's case the first of three days in an early signing period, without some surprises?

It was a mixed bag for Illinois. The Illini did add speedster defensive back Sydney Brown out of seemingly nowhere, but also got through the first day of the early signing period without getting its entire group of commits on board.

Quarterback of the future? Illini sure hope so

FRISCO, Texas — M.J. Rivers has been thinking about playing college football for a long time. Since age 4 actually.

"I wanted to play college ball and make it to the highest level there is," Rivers said.

Tom Kacich: It was a blue C-U Christmas 100 years ago

It was, the newspapers often pointed out, Champaign-Urbana's first wartime Christmas in more than a half-century. Not since the Civil War, when the community was a fraction of the size it was in 1917, had the two cities experienced such a melancholy holiday.

It was, The Champaign Daily Gazette said, "a Christmas without frills."

Golden Opportunity: Big Ten bowl matchups

The Big Ten is hoping to bounce back from a 3-7 bowl record last season. Eight schools from Jim Delany's league are going bowling, starting Dec. 27. AP Top 25 voter and Illinois football beat writer Bob Asmussen weighs in with what to expect:

Pinstripe Bowl
Iowa vs. Boston College
4:15 p.m., Dec. 27

Illini football land prized recruit from Florida

The Illinois football team added its second four-star recruit Sunday to the class of 2018.

Reuben Unije, an offenensive lineman from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., said "Yes" to Lovie Smith's program.

Unije joins earlier commit Calvin Avery, a defensive tackle from Dallas, as the two highest-rated players to pick Illinois.

Martin O'Donnell: Voice of reason

He is a breath of fresh air, a soothing breeze in a whirlwind of doubt. He is banker Martin O'Donnell, former All-American guard on a 2007 Rose Bowl team and now an analyst alongside Brian Barnhart on Illini football broadcasts.

Tell us, Martin, how do you remain positive in the wake of diminishing crowds and a 10-game losing streak?

Adesanya, Thieman latest to transfer from Illini football program

As the early signing day approaches Wednesday, the Illinois football team has two more openings.

On Friday, receiver Dominic Thieman and defensive lineman Sean Adesanya announced plans to transfer.

Both players went to Twitter to explain their decisions to change schools. They are the ninth and 10th players to leave the Illini since the end of a 2-10 season.