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Camp Rantoul practice report

Two days into his new position, Jody Ellis has made a quick adjustment. A defensive back for most of his Illinois career, Ellis is playing receiver.

"It's going pretty good right now," Ellis said. "Coach (Ron) Zook asked me if I wanted to make the change over, and I said, 'Yeah, I'll do anything to help the team right now.' At first, I didn't want to leave the guys on defense, but then I was like, 'I've got to help the team. I've got to do whatever.' "

Spring earns national title

INDIANAPOLIS – Justin Spring scored a 9.3 on the high bar Friday, becoming the first Illini athlete to win a U.S. Gymnastics title.

Spring, who totaled 18.75, was named to the U.S. National Team and might compete at the World Championships on Nov. 21-27 in Melbourne, Australia.

Who's that Illini?

I am the only Illini to receive the Nissen Award, given to the nation's top senior in men's collegiate gymnastics. My honor came in 1989, when I earned All-America status in three events for an NCAA champion Illinois team. My versatility also was evident at the 1988 NCAA meet, where I was an All-American in the all-around. I was a three-time Big Ten champion – in three different events – from 1986 to '89.

Camp Rantoul practice report

The timing couldn't have been better. As the lightning and rain settled over Camp Rantoul on Thursday night, the Illinois football team ran off the field at the end of practice.

Zook knew the team would have time to finish thanks to trainer/weatherman Adrian Melendez. As the lightning hit on the perimeter of Rantoul, Melendez told Zook he had eight minutes left.

Ex-Illini sixth in hurdles final

HELSINKI, Finland – Former Illini Jenny Kallur placed sixth in the finals of the women's 100-meter hurdles Thursday at the IAAF World Championships.

Who's that Illini?

I was the 1948 Big Ten batting champion, hitting .404 for the league's co-champions. My career batting average of .367 from 1947 to '50 stood as the school record until 1983 and still ranks fourth on the all-time Illinois list. I was a two-time team MVP and a second-team All-Big Ten pick at second base in 1949. I went on to a four-year major league career with the Washington Senators and the Boston Red Sox, hitting .262.

Illinois gymnasts try to make mark

INDIANAPOLIS – On a night of splats and spills, Todd Thornton did just enough Wednesday to edge David Sender for the top spot in the preliminaries at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships.

Thornton finished with 52.900 points, 0.50 ahead of David Sender. David Durante was third with 52.150 points.

Camp Rantoul practice report

On Wednesday, the Illini put on their full gear for the first time at Camp Rantoul. Coach Ron Zook liked what he saw.

"I thought we got better," Zook said. "We made improvement, which is what we have to do. We've got to continue to fight through things. There are a lot of little things out there. We're demanding them to be perfect.

Be our guess

Can Ron Zook's first team fare better than Ron Turner's last? A sampling of responses thus far:

Tate: Illini defense only can be as good as the line will let it

Forget the offensive shortcomings that caused Illinois fans to grind their teeth. Instead, analyze the 2004 defensive numbers that led to the demise of Ron Turner's football program.

– A scan of the national landscape finds few teams weaker at rushing the quarterback. With the top four defensive ends managing 1 sacks, the Illini caught the quarterback 12 times in 11 games, by far the worst in the Big Ten. Purdue led with 35 sacks.