Player News

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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

Illinois senior QB Chayce Crouch announced on his personal Twitter account that he will retire from football.

With Jeff George Jr. announcing his intention to transfer on Wednesday, the Illini are now extremely thin at quarterback. Rising sophomore QB Cam Thomas is the only scholarship quarterback currently on the roster. Over the summer, he'll be joined by three-star recruit MJ Rivers. Illinois will almost certainly add a grad transfer QB in the meantime. Crouch started the first four games last year before he was benched for George.
Jan 18 - 12:45 PM

Illinois redshirt junior QB Jeff George Jr. will transfer as a graduate.

George (6'3/205) played in seven games -- making five starts -- during the 2017 season. In that space, he threw for 1,273 yards (51.9-percent completions) with a dismal 7/10 TD/INT ratio. Moving on as a graduate, the redshirt junior will be eligible to play immediately with his team-to-be come the start of the 2018 campaign. He still has two years eligibility remaining to his name. With George transferring out, Illinois is now facing an absolutely threadbare situation on the quarterbacking depth chart. The only two scholarship quarterbacks currently on roster are Chayce Crouch and Cam Thomas. And Crouch was shifted to tight end during the 2017 campaign. The Illini could potentially shift him back to signal-caller, but regardless, it's a tenuous position group.
Jan 17 - 5:12 PM

Illinois fired OC Garrick McGee.

Football Scoop reported that this was in the works prior to the holiday weekend. It's official, now. McGee joined Lovie Smith's staff at Illinois back in the spring of 2016. The Illini finished the current campaign as the FBS' No. 127 team in terms of total offense, a drop off when there was almost no room to drop off given that they ranked as the 123rd-worst team in that statistic during McGee's first year on the job under Smith. Illinois trotted out three quarterbacks this season, with those three signal-callers combining for eight touchdown passes. Just where the program will turn now has not yet been determined. As John Lennon once sang, "Can't get no worse."
Wed, Dec 27, 2017 09:23:00 PM

Illinois signed four-star 2018 DT Calvin Avery.

Avery (6'4/302) made his initial commitment to Illinois back in August. He's been a dominant force during his career at Bishop Dunne (Texas) and will bring a thump and tenacity to the table for the Illini. He still has technical issues to iron out, but at least on a physical level, he's very developed for his age. On the 247Sports composite, Avery lands at No. 205 overall.
Source: 247Sports
Tue, Dec 26, 2017 04:18:00 PM

Football Scoop reports that Illinois will not retain DB coach Paul Williams.

Williams came over from Miami in the winter of 2015 and was subsequently kept on staff after Lovie Smith took over as head coach in spring, 2016. This season, by S&P+ metrics, the Illini limped their way to the No. 90 pass defense in the country. We would not be surprised to see further staff upheaval in the program during the coming days and weeks.
Sat, Dec 23, 2017 05:15:00 PM

Football Scoop reports that Illinois will not retain OC Garrick McGee.

McGee was brought on as part of Illinois' initial staff under HC Lovie Smith in March of 2016, but the results for the former Louisville and UAB coach have been disastrous. For the 2016 campaign, the Illini ranked 123rd in total offense, a mark which somehow fell even more this season, when they finished at No. 127. It's an understandable parting of ways.
Sat, Dec 23, 2017 02:46:00 PM

Illinois signed uncommitted four-star 2018 OL Verdis Brown.

Brown (6'4/290) had been committed to Florida State since the summer, but reopened his recruitment at the end of November as rumors swirled regarding HC Jimbo Fisher's impending exit. He signs with Illinois after a hard push from Missouri this month. It's a fantastic signing for Illini HC Lovie Smith, one of his biggest gets since coming on at the program several years ago. Brown ranks as Rivals' No. 199 overall prospect in the 2018 class.
Source: Rivals
Fri, Dec 22, 2017 03:37:00 PM

Three-star 2018 T prospect Reuben Unijie verbally committed to play at Illinois.

Unijie (6'6/309) had offers from many more -- and quite frankly, many more successful -- schools like Oklahoma, Alabama and TCU, among others. His scouting reports rave about his frame, and ESPN calls him a "fluid athlete." They also note that he needs to add bulk to get stronger, so he might not be an immediate playing time candidate. Still, this is appears to be a high-upside player on a team that can use a lot of high-upside anything.
Source: 247 Sports
Mon, Dec 18, 2017 07:35:00 PM

Illinois sophomore WR Dominic Thieman will transfer.

Thieman makes the announcement on Twitter. He missed most of 2016 with a leg injury, and caught just 11 passes for the Illini in 2017. He'll have to sit out a year if he transfers to another FBS level, but he could be a candidate to get another year of eligibility because of the injury as a freshman.
Fri, Dec 15, 2017 02:15:00 PM

Illinois junior S Daivon Ellison will transfer.

Ellison (5'8/181) was suspended for an early November contest against Florida State due to a violation of team rules, but it is not known if that had any impact on his decision to transfer, here. The junior safety registered just seven tackles this season.
Tue, Dec 5, 2017 08:51:00 PM

Illinois senior CB Jaylen Dunlap accepted an invitation to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

Dunlap (6'1/190) will try to make his mark on the scouting community when he takes part in the postseason bowl on Jan. 20. The senior made nine starts at corner this season and was just named All-Big Ten honorable mention by the coaches. He registered 29 tackles, an interception and five passes defended this season.
Thu, Nov 30, 2017 12:39:00 PM

Illinois redshirt sophomore S Pat Nelson will transfer as a graduate.

Nelson (6'0/210) was a steady contributor for the Illini this season, logging 65 tackles and a pair of forced fumbles. Those 65 tackles were good for third most on the team. Per 247Sports, the redshirt sophomore is on track to graduate in the spring, leaving him free to play immediately come the start of the 2018 season. No word as of yet where Nelson might be eyeing for the transfer, but he'll have two years eligibility remaining once he gets there.
Source: 247Sports
Tue, Nov 28, 2017 06:18:00 PM

Illinois sophomore QB Jeff George Jr. didn't play in Saturday's game against Ohio State due to an undisclosed injury.

Cam Thomas was also injured, so Chayce Crouch was trotted back out for the slaughter. We'll have to wait until later this week to find out who the Illini will start in the finale against Northwestern.
Mon, Nov 20, 2017 02:56:00 PM

Illinois freshman QB Cam Thomas didn't play in Saturday's game against Ohio State due to an undisclosed injury.

Thomas has missed the past two games with the injury. With Illinois set for a meaningless finale against Northwestern, we'd guess the Illini withhold Thomas, who showed flashes earlier this season.
Mon, Nov 20, 2017 01:02:00 PM


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