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Illinois sophomore RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in Saturday's 48-23 loss to UNC.

Vaughn's most impressive run came with barely under a minute shaved off the first quarter clock. The 5-foot-10, 205-pounder struck for a 65-yard touchdown run at that point to jump Illinois to a 7-0 lead. For the contest as a whole, Vaughn averaged 7.7 YPC. As a true freshman last season, he racked up 723 rushing yards (4.6 YPC) and six touchdowns.
Sep 10 - 11:59 PM

Illinois junior WR Malik Turner had three catches for 83 yards and a pair of scores in Saturday's 52-3 pasting of Murray State.

Lovie Smith's debut went a bit better than Bronco Mendenhall's. It appears he's found a capable Geronimo Allison go-to replacement in Turner, who served in a complementary role last fall. Turner posted 39 receptions, 510 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. Expecting a breakout, Athlon Sports named him to the preseason All-Big Ten fourth team.
Sep 3 - 6:56 PM

Illinois senior DE Dawuane Smoot, QB Wes Lunt, LB Hardy Nickerson, and OL Joe Spencer have been named the school's captains this season.

Smoot is one of the best pass rushers in the country. Nickers transferred from Cal, where he was a team leader, to play under his father and Lovie Smith at Illinois. Lunt is entering his 13th season of college football.
Source: Land of 10
Aug 31 - 10:11 AM

Illinois senior DE Dawuane Smoot received a second round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board last winter.

Smoot and Jihad Ward teamed up to form one of the better edge rushing duos in the country last year. Illinois was not good (obviously), but look for Smoot to be the school's bets player this season on either side of the ball. New head coach Lovie Smith and defensive coach Hardy Nickerson have plenty of NFL coaching experience, and Smoot has a future on Sundays.
Aug 30 - 9:10 AM

Illinois redshirt freshman QB Jimmy Fitzgerald will transfer.

In a statement, Fitzgerald said, "After much thought and discussion with my family, I have decided to ... consider other opportunities for my collegiate career." The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder was a three-star recruit out of high school and joined Illinois as part of the 2015 class. HC Lovie Smith was understanding of Fitzgerald's decision. "He is a terrific young man who has the respect of his teammates and all our coaches," said the offseason Illini hire. "Sometimes it just seems to a young man that the best move is to try and get a fresh start." No word as of yet as to what transfer options could be in play here.
Aug 11 - 1:21 PM

Illinois redshirt senior QB Wes Lunt is working with his fifth quarterback coach in his fifth season of college football.

Instability. Lunt started his career at Oklahoma State in 2012 before transferring to Illinois and sitting out the 2013 season. Illinois' was a dumpster fire last year, but hopefully that changes with Lovie Smith and his staff on site now. Current quarterbacks coach, Garrick McGee, is also the offensive coordinator and comes from Louisville where he held the same position under Bobby Petrino.
Jul 27 - 11:16 AM

Illinois redshirt senior QB Wes Lunt tied for the national lead with 42 dropped passes last year.

Those 42 drops were equaled by only Washington State’s Luke Falk, who attempted 167 more throws. WR Geronimo Allison and his 12 drops are now in the NFL, and the hope is that Allison's butter-fingered former WR mates will be less so this fall. Lunt threw for 2,761 yards (56.1% completions) with a 14/6 TD/INT ratio last year. Take away those drops and his spikes, however, and Lunt’s accuracy percentage skyrockets to 69%.
Jul 9 - 8:59 AM

Cal is really going to miss Illinois senior ILB Hardy Nickerson Jr., believes an anonymous Pac-12 offensive coach.

Nickerson, who had a team-best 112 tackles last year, decided to transfer to play for his dad, now the DC at Illinois. "We accounted for him because they did a whole bunch of things with him," the coach said. "They moved him around a lot, and his athleticism created problems." The Golden Bears face a gamut of elite runners in Pac-12 North play this fall, including Stanford's Christian McCaffrey (144 ypg), Oregon's Royce Freeman (141 ypg) and Washington's Myles Gaskin (100 ypg).
Source: ESPN
Jun 24 - 5:59 PM

Illinois graduate DT Teko Powell will transfer.

"I didn’t have the best career at Illinois," explained Powell. "I had four different head coaches that either recruited me or coached me. I’m looking for a more stable program with the last two years of eligibility that I’ll have." Foot injuries have largely sidelined Powell over the last two campaigns. The 6-foot-3, 295-pounder underwent his first foot surgery in the 2013 offseason before re-injuring his hoof in the third game of the 2014 season. He took a redshirt for the rest of that season, but sadly, injured the foot yet again last August and underwent yet another surgery. He did not play in 2015. For his career with Illinois, Powell recorded 34 tackles and made nine starts. He is trying not to dwell on the past, saying, "I’m actually looking forward to the future to see if I can still achieve my dream and my goal of making it to the NFL."
Jun 22 - 4:00 PM

Illinois senior DT Jarrod "Chunky" Clements pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge.

Clements is being accused of punching a man at a party on March 4. He was subsequently charged with misdemeanor battery on April 28. The 6-foot-3, 284-pounder pleaded not guilty on June 3 and has entered a program that could lead to the charge eventually being dropped or reduced after he participates in community service. He has been assigned 20 hours of community work. In a statement, HC Lovie Smith said, "He has already begun working toward fulfilling the community service hours that were assigned to him by the court. We will reinforce to Jarrod the expectations we have of him as a student-athlete." Clements will not have to serve a suspension and will be eligible to play in the Illini's Week 1 showdown with Murray State.
Jun 15 - 12:40 PM

The first time Illinois HC Lovie Smith met senior DE Dawuane Smoot, Smith told him: "I want to make you a first-rounder."

It was Smoot -- and not former star teammate Jihad Ward -- who led the Illini with eight sacks, 15 TFL and three forced fumbles last year. "I want to try to be [an NFL] first-rounder and to be an All-American," Smoot said. "Double-digit sacks and then go to the league. Those are my expectations." Smoot was a track star in high school who added 40 pounds of bulk (now listed at 270) while making the transition to collegiate football star. "With Smoot leading the way," defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson said, "we've got a group of guys we feel can play, and play at a very high level."
Source: ESPN.com
May 31 - 9:22 PM

After the close of spring practice, Illinois HC Lovie Smith said, "We know the personnel a lot better and players know exactly how we run a practice."

"They know the tempo of things, how we do things, the ‘Illini Way’ as much as anything. That’s what we wanted to get accomplished this spring," Smith said. The longtime NFL coach took over as head coach of Illinois after the abrupt firing of Bill Cubit in early March. While the Illini finished with a 5-7 record last season, Smith is not concerned with the recent turmoil, saying, "Our talent is good enough for us to win this year, that’s how we see it."
May 19 - 2:28 PM

Campus Insiders' Rich Cirminiello wrote that Illinois graduate ILB Hardy Nickerson Jr. "could be the answer to the departure of T.J. Neal, who ironically created an opening with his own transfer to Auburn."

While Neal heads south from Illinois to Auburn, Nickerson Jr. heads east from Cal to Illinois. The 6-foot, 225-pounder joins Hardy Nickerson Sr., his father, with the elder taking the defensive coordinator position under new Illini HC Lovie Smith. Last season at Cal, Nickerson Jr. was prolific (to say the least), posting 111 total tackles (2.0 for loss) and a sack.
May 14 - 6:57 PM

The Colts finished with the sixth-best UDFA haul, believes NFL Media draft analyst Chad Reuter.

"The Colts selected four offensive linemen in the draft, which meant the rest of that side of the ball needed to be addressed post-draft," Reuter wrote. The biggest add may have been RB Josh Ferguson, who Reuter thinks "will be a very good rotational back." Indy also picked up WRs Tevaun Smith and Mekale McKay, both of whom may stick. TE Darion Griswold should have been drafted, while Reuter sees DL Delvon Simmons as capable of "win[ning] playing time right away" and edge rusher Ron Thompson as "a situational pass rusher worth developing."
Source: NFL.com
May 6 - 7:32 PM

Packers signed Illinois WR Geronimo Allison.

Allison (6'3/196) spent two years with the Illini after transferring from JUCO, parlaying 106 career catches into 1,480 yards (14.0 YPR) and eight touchdowns. A long, lanky wideout with plus arm length (32 7/8"), Allison's drawbacks are his shaky hands after posting an 11-percent drop rate as a senior, and 4.67 speed as timed at the Combine. Allison was a good college receiver, but his NFL outlook is bleak.
May 2 - 2:48 PM


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