Former Comet, Redbird Lee lifting his football profile

OAKWOOD — The Lee residence sits out in the country of Vermilion County, near Oakwood Junior High School.

It's unassuming and modest. With acres of farmland in each direction, it doesn't evoke much of a second glance when drivers pass by.

Wolken among local coaches built to thrive

Randy Wolken moved closer to 1,000 career wins with St. Joseph-Ogden softball’s 9-4 triumph at Mattoon on Monday, his 998th while leading the Spartans. Before SJ-O plays at Unity on Tuesday, a look at five ex-area coaches who shined at their respective schools:

Dick Duval


Danville lineman picks Illini

DANVILLE — Earlier in the spring, former Danville football coach B.J. Luke said he would like to see more Big 12 players on the Illinois roster.

Apparently, he is getting his wish.

According to multiple sources, Danville offensive tackle Julian Pearl has made a commitment to Lovie Smith.

Tate: Money, recruiting lead college football talks

The press of this state's financial crisis is debilitating for the UI, and even worse for less affluent colleges.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Northern Illinois, which had dreams of becoming football's "Boise of the Midwest," saw state appropriations fall from $91 million in 2015 to $26.4 million, resulting in lower enrollment and the abolishment of 50 academic programs.

Tuscola star commits to Oklahoma State

TUSCOLA — After visiting Oklahoma State a few weeks ago, Tuscola offensive tackle Hunter Woodard said he knew it was likely the school for him.

An offer from Illinois didn’t change that. Neither did a visit to Iowa last weekend or interest from schools like Syracuse, North Carolina and others.

Sunday Conversation: B.J. Luke

He coached high school football in this state through parts of five decades. But next fall, you won't find B.J. Luke coaching Danville on the sidelines at the Vikings' Whitesell Field — or any football field for that matter — after he stepped down recently following 12 seasons leading his alma mater.

Social media helps Tuscola tackle draw major college interest

TUSCOLA — Predicting which college football program will next express interest in him isn't a difficult enterprise for Tuscola offensive lineman Hunter Woodard. All he has to do is look at his Twitter followers.

"Typically I'll know if they're going to (direct message) me," Woodard said, "because I'll have like five of (coaches from the same school) follow me at the same time."

Woodard picks up Illinois offer

The last Tuscola native to play for Illinois turned out all right.

Fred Wakefield was a four-year contributor as a defensive end for the Illini from 1997 to 2000 and then played six seasons in the NFL.

Hunter Woodard might reach the NFL someday, but first, the Tuscola junior lineman has to pick a college.

Illini footbal notes: Dudek fully cleared

Injury updates

Illinois spring football practice ended four weeks ago, before every other school in the Big Ten. During Wednesday’s Big Ten spring teleconference, Illinois coach Lovie Smith discussed the health of quarterback Chayce Crouch and receiver Mikey Dudek.

Luke resigns as Danville football coach

DANVILLE — After a dozen years leading the Danville Vikings on the gridiron, B.J. Luke is stepping down as head coach.

Luke told The News-Gazette on Sunday night that he turned in his resignation Friday.

While Luke will no longer serve as head football coach, he said he will remain as Danville’s athletic director and girls’ track and field coach.