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
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