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Appalachian State senior WR Shaedon Meadors transferred to Illinois as a graduate.

Meadors redshirted in 2017 due to injury concerns and will be eligible to play immediately at Illinois after transferring as a graduate. Meadors was productive in his last healthy season, 2016, recording 45 receptions for 716 yards and two touchdowns. He will look to carve out a role for himself in what's likely to be his last year of collegiate eligibility but understands it won't be easy, "Coming into a new offense and a new program, coaches expect different things of you. That's really the main point right now, trying to adapt."
Jun 12 - 1:36 PM

Illinois redshirt junior LB Jimmy Marchese and redshirt sophomore LB Drew Murtaugh have been charged with theft after relocating a deer statue to the roof of their apartment complex.

Marchese and Murtaugh allegedly removed a deer statue from Champaign's Scott Park, telling authorities that while walking home on the evening of April 29, they saw "Startled" -- that's the name of the deer-- lying on the ground. At which point they apparently decided that they needed to decorate their apartment complex's roof with the would-be Rudolph. The two young men each face one count of theft between $500-10,000. While the charge could potentially carry jail time, it's exceedingly doubtful that such a relatively minor incident would result in major punishment. Illinois has not moved to suspend either player and we'll roll under the assumption that discipline is being handled internally unless word surfaces to the contrary. To put a bow on this misadventure, Stranger is now residing once more in Scott Park, with Park District Director Joe DeLuce saying that "[w]e think we got it worked out to where it would be a lot harder for anyone to take it out again."
May 26 - 2:06 PM

Illinois signed three-star 2018 QB M.J. Rivers in December.

Rivers also had offers from New Mexico, Iowa State and several other FCS schools. he rated as the 27th best dual-threat quarterback in the class in 247 Sports composite rankings. At 6-foot-4, 213-pounds, Rivers has an excellent frame, and reportedly can make plays with his legs on top of having a strong throwing arm. Rivers could compete for playing time for Illinois in a short amount of time if he's accurate/smart with the football.
Source: 247 Sports
May 13 - 2:41 PM

Illinois sophomore TE Louis Dorsey did not take part in spring practice due to what HC Lovie Smith termed "personal issues."

Dorsey (6'6/225) is one of Illinois' few offensive standouts. It's not clear just what he's dealing with, nor when he will be rejoining the team. This past season, the then-freshman caught 22 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns. That trio of touchdowns led the team, while his yardage total was good for second on the squad. With Dorsey out for the spring, junior TE Caleb Reams stepped up to impress, capping matters off with a pair of touchdown grabs in the team's spring game.
May 6 - 2:59 PM

Illinois sophomore RB Ra'Von Bonner cleared concussion protocol and participated in the spring game.

Bonner is a former three-star recruit that played sparingly as a freshman due to injury, rushing for 202 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 67 carries. Bonner ripped off a 64-yard run during the spring game and is competing with redshirt junior Reggie Corbin and sophomore Mike Epstein for playing time.
Apr 25 - 6:48 PM

Illinois received a verbal commitment from five-star 2019 ATH Isaiah Williams.

Biggest recruit to commit to Illinois during HC Lovie Smith's two-year tenure with the program. Williams (5'10/160) is a versatile athlete, but projects as a likely quarterback for the college game. He has the quick-draw release of a true gunslinger and a dynamic ability as a runner. Alas, the most glaring weakness in his game is one that he can't really change -- he measures out as incredibly undersized for a quarterback. That will still be the case even after he adds weight. Not much you can do about your height. Should Illinois shy away from him as their future signal-caller, he does have additional upside for both corner and slot wideout. Regardless of the size question, this is a slam-dunk pledge for the program. Factor in graduate transfers from QB A.J. Bush (Virginia Tech) and WRs Jalen Greene (USC) and Shaedon Meadors (Appalachian State) and we're starting to see actual positive movement for the program this offseason.
Source: 247Sports
Mar 23 - 3:18 PM

Virginia Tech redshirt senior QB A.J. Bush transferred to Illinois as a graduate.

While Bush won't be enrolling at Illinois until the summer, he should immediately be considered a true contender for the starting quarterback gig. This has less to do with what the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder has shown on the field -- he's already been through three programs (Nebraska, Iowa Western, Virginia Tech) and has attempted just 11 passes for his FBS career -- and more to do with the near-complete lack of depth in the Illinois quarterbacks room. To whit, the only Illini scholarship signal-caller currently on roster is sophomore Cam Thomas. The team will be stocking up with incoming freshman quarterbacks prior to August camp, but regardless, Bush should be considered a heavy contender to start so long as he shows some spark once he arrives on campus.
Source: 247Sports
Mar 13 - 12:32 PM

Illinois received a verbal commitment from previously uncommitted four-star 2019 ATH Marquez Beason.

Beason (5'11/175) had offers from schools like Ohio State, Texas A&M, LSU and Georgia, so this is a big win for the Illini. Greg Power of 247 Sports calls him an "electric" player that is both shifty and able to run past defenders. He also is considered a high-end cornerback prospect, so he could play on either side of the ball. This seems to be a substantial get for Lovie Smith and company as they try and make Illinois into a Big Ten contender.
Source: 247 Sports
Mar 10 - 6:50 PM

Illinois Coach Lovie Smith said redshirt senior WR Mike Dudek has "no limitations on him."

Smith continued by saying "Mike is just a good player" and "This is valuable work for him in this new offence. We have big plans for Mike, not just as a receiver but as a returner also." After being named a True-Freshman All-American in 2014, Dudek's career has been derailed by two torn ACL's in consecutive seasons. In 2017 he tallied only 24 receptions for 262 yards and a touchdown as he missed five games due to other injuries. Dudek will look to make a significant impact in his last season as a collegiate athlete.
Mar 9 - 5:20 PM

Illinois redshirt junior LB Justice Williams is moving to wide receiver.

Williams (6'3/215) initially joined the Illini as a three-star linebacking prospect in the 2015 recruiting class. While he had opportunities to break in as a starter -- he was receiving first-team reps at outside linebacker last spring -- he was unable to take advantage of those chances, recording just nine tackles last season while working mostly as a special teams piece. Late last autumn, he began to see work at receiver with the scout team and he impressed enough in that capacity that HC Lovie Smith and company are going to give him a shot to grow into the position. Said Smith, "He gives us a little different body type at that position. Big guy. Should be a good blocker out there, and he has good hands."
Source: 247Sports
Mar 6 - 2:01 PM

Illinois DC Hardy Nickerson has been promoted to assistant head coach.

Nickerson retains his defensive coordinator position, but also gets the beefed-up title. The former Pro Bowl linebacker has been the defensive coordinator at Illinois since 2016, coming over from Tampa Bay when Lovie Smith was named head coach of the Illini. He also coaches linebackers, a position he played for the Steelers, Buccaneers, Jaguars and Packers.
Feb 23 - 9:56 PM

Illinois has hired Gill Byrd to be its new safeties coach and passing game coordinator.

With the move, Donnie Abraham will move from coaching safeties to the new cornerback coach for the Illini. Byrd spent last year with the Buffalo Bills, but was fired last month despite having another year left on his contract. It'll be his first job as a a collegiate coach, as his last 15 years have been spent as a defensive assistant in the NFL for teams like the Rams, Bears, and Buccaneers.
Feb 23 - 5:57 PM

Illinois hired USC graduate assistant Austin Clark to serve as defensive line coach.

Clark, who has worked on the defensive side of the ball as a grad assistant with the Trojans for the past two seasons, receives his first shot as an FBS position coach. He's very much a baby to the profession, as he'll be just 28 years old come August. In a statement, Illinois HC Lovie Smith said that Clark "just blew us away with his enthusiasm and detail" during his interview with the program.
Feb 9 - 4:12 PM

Football Scoop reports that the Indianapolis Colts will hire Illinois DL coach Mike Phair.

Phair has been on staff with the Illini for the past three seasons. He had a brief stint as defensive coordinator with the program after taking over that role following the firing of HC Tim Beckman in the August of 2015. Among his previous NFL stops, the Bears, Buccaneers and Seahawks.
Jan 25 - 6:08 PM

Illinois has hired former Arizona OC Rod Smith to be their new offensive coordinator.

Smith replaces Garrick McGee, who was fired after the Illini completed a 2-10 season with zero wins in the Big Ten. He spent the last six years working under former Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, all working with the quarterbacks and as the offensive coordinator. He has his work cut out for him, taking over an offense that finished 107th in passing yardage and 124th in rushing while scoring just 15.3 points per game.
Jan 19 - 4:11 PM


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