Illini footbal notes: Dudek fully cleared

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.

“(Chayce) wasn’t able to go through any contact work, but he was able to do a little bit of throwing with the team at the end of spring ball, the last week or so,” Smith said. “He’s right on schedule. We’ve transitioned into the other part of our offseason program now, lifting, running and all that. He won’t have any problems. He’s our starting quarterback, the undisputed leader of our football team. I can’t wait to get him back out there, but no issues as far as the surgery he had during the season.”

Dudek had 1,038 receiving yards as a freshman in 2014, but hasn’t played since. He missed the 2015 and ’16 seasons with torn ACLs.

“Mikey is totally cleared,” Smith said. “He won’t go through any contact work until training camp. He’s running, doing everything right now. I don’t see any signs of anything wrong with the ACL sugery that he had. I see that same quickness that I’ve heard about, but never been able to see yet.

“Both guys are right where they need to be. The next time we get together officially to get ready to play in training camp, everybody will be available and ready to go.”

The Illinois assistants will start spring recruiting next week.

Smith said there are new areas Illinois wants to recruit.

“Last year, we weren’t really able to really get into Atlanta and Georgia as much as we would like,” Smith said. “And we really weren’t able to hit Texas, whether it be Dallas or Houston, as much. We’ve been able to get organized a little bit more and really get a good plan how we’re going to attack recruiting the second year.”

Cubit returns to sidelines

Former Illinois head coach Bill Cubit is now in charge at Martin County (Fla.) High School. After getting fired at Illinois, Cubit sat out the 2016 season.

“I just want to help out. It’s too early for me play golf every day and go home and take a nap,” Cubit said.

Cubit, 63, will have a 10-minute commute to the school from his Stuart, Fla., home.

“It’s right where we live,” Cubit said. “It’s a great community. Of any place I could have lived, this is the place I picked.

“This is perfect for me.”

Cubit knows all about the Tigers. He coached at the school in the 1980s, going 30-6 in three seasons.
Several of Cubit’s former Martin County players encouraged him to pursue the job.

“The more I looked into it, the more my juices started flowing again to coach,” Cubit said.

Cubit had other coaching opportunities after being fired by Josh Whitman. But Cubit has moved 13 times during his coaching career and didn’t want to do it again.

“It really came down to family, me and Nancy,” Cubit said, “Every time, you move, it’s a three- to six-month separation. I want to take care of Nancy a little bit better than I’ve been doing. I didn’t want to uproot her again unless it was a really good situation. And nothing came up that was that appealing.”

Sitting out last season was difficult for Cubit.

“It’s your whole life,” Cubit said. “You can go work out and play golf, but there’s always that void between 2 and 6.

“I’ve been doing it since I was 21. Then, all of the sudden, it’s not there.”

He stayed involved in football, taking notes while watching games. He devoted time each day to the sport.

Cubit hasn’t coached in high school since 1988. He is looking forward to it.

“To me, the high school coaches have the greatest influence on these youths of anybody,” Cubit said.

Cubit was scheduled to be meet with the players Wednesday afternoon. Spring practice starts later in the month and runs for 20 days. The Tigers will play a spring game against another high school on May 12.


Illini add long snapper as walk-on

With long snapper Michael Martin out of eligibility, the Illinois football team didn’t have a local connection.

Problem solved, thanks to a family friend of Martin.

St. Thomas More two-way lineman Kevin Hinders will be a preferred walk-on for Smith’s team. He will report to the Illini in the summer and attend training camp.

“I have been playing football since eighth grade and I really love the game,” Hinders said. “I’m going to see where it takes me.”

Centennial graduate Martin got the ball rolling, telling the Illinois coaching staff about Hinders and his interest in college football.

Hinders played defensive tackle and offensive tackle for the Sabers. The Illinois coaches are talking to him about trying defensive end.

St. Thomas More coach Dan Hennessey is thrilled for Hinders, who is 6-foot-5, 240 pounds.

“He has great potential and is a very coachable player,” Hennessey said,

Attending Illinois was always a possibility for Hinders. His mom Mary is a graduate. So are his four older sisters Maria, Christiana, Gina and Julia.

“I’m a big Illinois fan,” Hinders said.

His dad Kevin is a Notre Dame alum and Illinois architecture professor.

His college choice came down to Illinois and Notre Dame. Hinders hasn’t decided on a major.

Hinders talked to other former Illini, including Jay Ramshaw and Matt Sinclair, to hear about their experiences in college.

“I really think this will be the best,” Hinders said.

Smith wants to build the Illinois walk-on program. He talks to the players about the chance to earn scholarships. Hinders got the message.
Bob Asmussen

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Moonpie wrote on April 13, 2017 at 11:04 am

"I see that same quickness that I’ve heard about, but never been able to see yet."


Classic Lovie DovieSpeak. Often doesn't know what he's talking about.