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Illinois has already hosted NFL scouts from double-digit franchises in practices this summer.

Phil Savage, former general manager of the Cleveland Browns and current executive director of the Senior Bowl, has also been there. "It’s a credit to the kids, to the players," HC Tim Beckman said. "They are the ones who are bringing them out. Those scouts are not coming to watch me, that’s for sure." Beckman said he's been asked most about DL Jihad Ward, LB Mason Monheim, WR Geronimo Allison, OL Teddy Karras and RB Josh Ferguson.
Aug 16 - 6:51 PM

Illinois senior DL Jihad Ward will miss at least the first two games of the season after undergoing minor surgery.

Those two games are Kent State and Western Illinois, which should be easy wins for the Illini. Should be. There are absolutely no details on what the surgery was for, but Ward had been in a non-contact jersey for two practices. Ward has drawn buzz this offseason after he gained weight from a safety/receiver role to now lining up at defensive tackle.
Aug 14 - 2:48 PM

Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman warns college football viewers to watch out for Illinois senior DL Jihad Ward.

The former JUCO transfer is 6'6/295 lbs and has the "size and athleticism to get some first-round looks next spring." Illinois has failed to produce a quality prospect in a number of years, and did not even produce a draftable player in 2014.
Source: Fox Sports
Aug 12 - 12:49 PM

NFL Media draft analyst Chad Reuter projects Illinois senior G Ted Karras to get drafted if he stays healthy this fall.

The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Karras, a 2014 honorable mention All-Big Ten pick, is the seventh Karras family member to play Big Ten football. Four went on to the NFL, most famously Ted's great uncle, the late Pro Bowler Alex Karras. "Before the injury, Karras showed the strength and mobility to be a starter at the next level," Reuter wrote. "A healthy season should land him a draft slot."
Source: NFL.com
Aug 11 - 12:52 AM

Illinois sophomore DE Paul James III has withdrawn from the school.

It is not immediately clear as to why James decided to leave not just the football program, but the school entirely. A three-star recruit from the 2013 recruiting class, James would likely have started on the defensive line for the team in 2016, though his time might have come even sooner than that given the Illini's lack of depth on the line.
Aug 7 - 8:01 PM

Illinois redshirt senior RB Josh Ferguson "isn't the biggest back in the draft class, but his explosiveness and elusiveness are perfect for teams looking for a dual threat in the backfield," notes NFL Media draft analyst Chad Reuter.

"The only reason Ferguson hasn't yet had a 1,000-yard season with the Illini is a lack of carries," Reuter wrote. "He's been invaluable to Illinois' offense, however, producing more than 1,000 yards of total offense the past two seasons, including 1,162 in 2014." The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder, who has scored 21 touchdowns over the past two years, posted 735 yards rushing and 427 yards on 50 receptions in 2014. "Ferguson isn't the biggest back in the draft class, but his explosiveness and elusiveness are perfect for teams looking for a dual threat in the backfield," Reuter wrote.
Source: NFL.com
Jul 30 - 6:20 PM

llinois redshirt senior RB Josh Ferguson is "a shifty third down back that's very effective catching the ball out of the backfield," TFY Draft Insider Tony Pauline notes.

The Illinois prospect finished the 2014 season with 735 yards rushing and eight touchdowns, averaging 5.0 yards a carry. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Ferguson was also utilized in the passing game, hauling in 50 receptions for 427 yards and two touchdowns for the Fighting Illini.
Jul 30 - 2:38 PM

Regarding Illinois senior DT Jihad Ward's move from receiver/safety to the defensive line in JUCO, NFL Media draft analyst Chad Reuter writes that "the sky's the limit once he really knows what to do with his size and strength."

"He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by league coaches in his first season with the Illini, playing inside and outside and using his huge wingspan to swallow ball carriers," Reuter wrote. "Ward could be one of the fastest risers up draft boards (maybe to the second round?) if he approaches his potential this season." The 6-foot-6, 295-pounder posted 51 tackles, 8.5 TFL and three sacks last year.
Source: NFL.com
Jul 29 - 7:52 PM

Due to the injury of Mikey Dudek, ESPN's Brian Bennett suggests that Illinois junior WR Geronimo Allison may crack the 1,000-receiving yard barrier this year.

Dudek tore his ACL in the spring and won’t be back until October at the earliest. "Can Allison pick up the slack?" Bennett asked. "He showed signs of promise in 2014 while racking up 598 receiving yards and 41 catches in 12 games. He’ll need more consistency, but the talent and opportunity are both there in the Illini’s high-volume passing game." The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder had a great spring, according to CBS Sports' Dane Brugler.
Source: ESPN.com
Jul 12 - 2:29 PM

Illinois redshirt junior QB Wes Lunt has "physical traits" that "immediately attracts the attention of pro scouts, consistently making NFL throw after NFL throw," CBS Sports' Dane Brugler observes.

"And while the statistics look promising (63.5-percent completions, 14:3 touchdown:interception ratio), Lunt underwhelmed last season, although he did show the potential to be one of the best passers in the conference. He has pro physical traits with his size, mobility and arm strength that immediately attracts the attention of pro scouts, consistently making NFL throw after NFL throw," Brugler writes. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Lunt passed for 1,763 yards, 14 TDs and three interceptions last season for Illinois. The former Oklahoma State transfer started off hot last season before he broke his leg in a loss to Purdue.
Source: CBS Sports
Jun 30 - 3:59 PM

CBS Sports' Dane Brugler believes Illinois senior CB V'Angelo Bentley "has football speed, smarts and swagger that will appeal to the next level."

"He doesn't have ideal size or timed speed, but he has football speed, smarts and swagger that will appeal to the next level. If Bentley can turn inconsistency into more production as a senior, he will make himself some money this season," Brugler writes. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Bentley earned All-Conference Honorable Mention honors in 2014, posting 46 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, with three passes defended and one interception. Bentley also showcases play-making ability on special teams, as he led the Fighting Illini with 692 kick return yards and 123 punt return yards.
Source: CBS Sports
Jun 30 - 2:56 PM

Illinois redshirt senior Josh Ferguson "is much more talented than what it says on paper," CBS Sports' Dane Brugler observes.

"The Illinois' offense has struggled in recent years, especially on the ground, ranking 114th in the country last season in rushing. But that statistic doesn't accurately tell the tale of Ferguson, who is much more talented than what it says on paper," Brugler wrote. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Ferguson rushed for 735 yards and eight touchdowns, while averaging 5.0 yards a carry in 2014. Ferguson was also a weapon in the passing game, adding in 50 receptions for 427 yards and two touchdowns for the Fighting Illini.
Source: CBS Sports
Jun 30 - 2:07 PM

NFL Media ranks Illinois senior CB V'Angelo Bentley as their No.15 versatile athletes in college football.

"He piled up more than 800 total return yards, including a 10-yard punt-return average. Defensively, Bentley scored on both an interception and a fumble return last year. Bentley was underappreciated on a 6-7 team last year, but he would play for a lot of the Big Ten schools ahead of Illinois in the standings," NFL.com's Chase Goodbread wrote. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Bentley is a valuable asset to the the Fighting Illini, as he's a playmaker at cornerback and an impact player at both punt returner and kickoff returner on special teams.
Source: NFL.com
Jun 9 - 2:17 PM

NFL Media ranks Illinois HC Tim Beckman as having the No. 3 hottest seat in college football.

"Beckman guided the Illini to a minor bowl last season, which was a positive even though they lost to Louisiana Tech," wrote College Football 24/7 writer Mike Huguenin. "But offseason allegations of mistreatment of players has Beckman's seat red hot entering the season. Illinois has won a total four Big Ten games in Beckman's three seasons; three of his 12 wins as coach have come against FCS schools and two have come over MAC foes." Beckman is 12-25 in three seasons at Illinois. We expected him to get axed after last season, and predict further that it will take eight wins to spare him the gallows in 2015.
Source: NFL.com
Jun 2 - 9:26 PM

Former Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase has been hired to the school's staff as an assistant director of football operations.

Scheelhaase was offered the job last year and declined, leading to the hiring of another former Illini QB Juice Williams. Many times a position like this leads to a full-time assistant role, or the player moves on to another job in a year or two.
May 19 - 12:29 PM


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