Western Illinois Illinois Foo

Illinois offensive lineman Doug Kramer (65) waits for the call during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Western Illinois Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, on the University of Illinois campus in Champaign.

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Before the start of Illinois football's training camp on Aug. 2 in Champaign, beat writer Scott Richey is counting down the Top 50 most important Illini heading into the 2019 season:

No. 28: Doug Kramer Jr.

Vitals: 6-2, 300, Jr., OL

Hometown: Hinsdale

High school: Hinsdale Central

Looking back at 2018: Kramer’s first full, healthy, non-redshirt season was a consistent one. The Academic All-Big Ten communications major started all 12 games for the Illini at center even though he was in a protective boot at times during the week late in the season. Kramer helped push the Illinois run game forward, blocking for a stable of running backs (and quarterbacks) that rushed for 2,916 yards.

Looking ahead to 2019: With Nick Allegretti now a member of the Kansas City Chiefs organization after being a seventh-round draft pick, Kramer is the veteran of the Illinois offensive line. Quite the journey from initially being a grayshirt candidate under Bill Cubit to earning a scholarship from Lovie Smith as a true freshman. The Illini need him to anchor the line this year.

Last year’s ranking: No. 29

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).