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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

Colts signed Illinois RB Josh Ferguson.

Ferguson (5'10/198) was a dynamic-if-brittle all-purpose playmaker for Illinois, posting a career rushing line of 505/2,586/18 (5.12 YPC) with 168/1,507/8 (8.97 YPR) receiving. He missed 16 college games due to injury, including three as a senior with an injured shoulder. Ferguson shined in Indy (4.48, 10-foot broad jump), but again pulled up lame with a hamstring injury. A spitting image of Dion Lewis from his playing style to his durability, Ferguson has the skill set of a movable chess piece despite his unheralded profile.
May 1 - 1:47 AM

Patriots signed Illinois CB V'Angelo Bentley.

Bentley (5'8/193) was a three-year starter at cornerback, logging two career interceptions, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 15 pass breakups. He also set the school record for career kickoff return yards. A sub-package/special teams prospect, Bentley has small arms (28 1/2") and managed a 4.57 forty at Illinois' Pro Day. Bentley's efficient tackling should help his chances of landing a slot corner role down the road; he missed just one tackle as a senior.
May 1 - 1:36 AM

Bengals selected Illinois S Clayton Fejedelem with the No. 245 overall pick of the 2016 NFL draft.

Fejedelem (6'0/204) spent two years at Illinois after transferring up from Division-NAIA St. Xavier, earning a starting job as a senior and tallying a whopping 140 tackles (4.5 TFL) with two interceptions and a forced fumble. Although Fejedelem has been typecast as a one-dimensional box safety by NFL scouts, he raised awareness at the Illini Pro Day, running 4.54 and showing explosion in the vertical (40 1/2") and broad (10'1") jumps. Fejedelem will open his career on special teams, but he could emerge as an Andrew Sendejo type down the line.
Apr 30 - 6:24 PM

Patriots selected Illinois OG Ted Karras with the No. 221 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.

Karras (6'4/307) made 43 starts on the Illini offensive line, manning right guard throughout his career and earning honorable mention All-Big Ten in each of his final two seasons. The nephew of ex-NFL Pro Bowler and pro wrestler Alex "The Mad Duck" Karras, Ted has deep football roots and plays with power and nastiness up front. His weakness is athleticism, managing a 5.28 forty and 26 1/2-inch vertical at Illinois' Pro Day. Karras will have to lean on his drive-blocking ability to forge an NFL career, likely as a backup guard-center.
Apr 30 - 5:37 PM

Raiders selected Illinois DT Jihad Ward with the No. 44 overall pick in the 2016 draft.

Ward (6'5/297) made 25 starts for the Illini after transferring from JUCO, posting 12 career tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks with three forced fumbles. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick as a senior. Ward's stock took a hit in Indy, testing as a third-percentile SPARQ athlete. There's also word he may require a knee scope that would sideline him 4-6 weeks. Still a high-energy lineman with plus length (33 7/8") and versatility to play multiple defensive line positions, Ward's best fit in the league will be as a five-technique.
Apr 29 - 8:14 PM

The MMQB's Peter King noted Illinois DL Jihad Ward could be a dark-horse selection at No. 29 by the Cardinals.

King mocked Ryan Kelly with the pick, but it seems very unlikely that Kelly will still be on the board at that time. We have talked about Ward more often than any group of evaluators, but even a first round pick would be a bit of a surprise. Josh Norris has ranked Ward as a top 40 pick since the Senior Bowl, citing his outside to inside role that NFL teams might covet. Ward only started playing football in 10th grade, spent time at the JUCO level and finished his career with Illinois. He tested in the 34th percentile for defensive linemen.
Source: The MMQB
Apr 27 - 9:12 AM

Cal graduate ILB Hardy Nickerson Jr. transferred to Illinois.

This is a monster get for HC Lovie Smith and DC Hardy Nickerson Sr., defensive minds who are trying to turn around a ragtag unit. As for Hardy Jr., he wanted to be coached by his father in his last collegiate season. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play my final year of college football for my father," Nickerson Jr. said. Nickerson, a three-year starter at Cal, led the Golden Bears with 112 tackles last fall. Everybody wins big here except for Cal, which must replace an all-conference defensive leader after all the recruiting music has long since stopped.
Source: ESPN.com
Apr 22 - 5:30 PM


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