CHAMPAIGN — Illinois football entered spring practices with multiple holes to fill in its secondary and plenty of young players angling for the opportunity. The Illini have to replace three starters that were selected in the first three rounds of the 2023 NFL draft and a fourth that signed as an undrafted free agent.
Turns out the way forward won't be through youth alone. Illinois added Louisville transfer Nicario Harper at semester. It apparently wasn't enough as the Illini rebuild their safeties room. Eight days after Florida International's Demetrius Hill committed to Illinois, Southern Illinois' Clayton Bush made the same decision.
Bush's Tuesday afternoon commitment provides Illinois with another veteran option in the secondary. The 6-foot, 195-pound safety played in 34 games the past three seasons at SIU after starting his career at Western Kentucky where he played in 13 games as a freshman in 2019.
Bush, a Bowling Green, Ky., native played mostly special teams at Western Kentucky before taking on a bigger role after his transfer to SIU. He finished his three seasons with the Salukis with 156 tackles, 12 pass breakups, five interceptions, three tackles for loss, two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.