Hull Healthy, Willing to Play Two Roles

CHAMPAIGN - First things first, Steve Hull had to get healthy.

The junior battled a shoulder injury throughout preseason camp. Upon his return, in Week Two against Arizona State, he injured the same shoulder and hasn't played since.

After weeks on the sideline, he'll be back Saturday in the Big Ten opener versus Penn State.

"I'm healthy. I'm strong," he said. "I feel confident. I got all my strength back, all my range of motion. I'm strong and ready to go."

Now that he's recovered, the next question is: Where will he play? The 6-2, 200-pound Cincinnati native enrolled at Illinois as a receiver, manning the position during his redshirt season in 2009.

A lack of depth led to a switch to the secondary, where he's since started 12 games.

Currently the lack of depth is more troubling at wideout, leading to speculation Hull may be on the move again or potentially could pull double duty.

He laughed when asked where he would line up Saturday before indicating defense is the most likely spot he'll play.

"I wouldn't mind doing a little bit of both, but probably this weekend is probably going to be safety," he said.

Hull may be preparing to play only safety this week, but that doesn't mean he's ruling out the option to help on offense later this season. His combination of size, speed and physical play, Hull says, could lead to success at wideout.

"I can get in and block those linebackers and help spring some of those runs," he said. "I can block on bubbles and help (Ryan Lankford) and some of those guys get in open spaces, and I can run good routes, I have good hands. I'm physical enough and fast enough to do that."

Defensive coordinator Tim Banks has no issue with Hull spending time on offense. Truthfully though, with any form of playmaking being taken under consideration by the coaching staff, Banks may not have much say in the matter.

"If thats what coach (Tim Beckman) wants, thats what he'll get," Banks said.

Hull and quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase enrolled at the same time and use to play pitch and catch frequently during their first year on offense together. The two remain close friends, something that has Hull even more eager to return to his offensive roots.

"You know we use to go out and clown around and catch balls together a lot, so we definitely have a natural chemistry just because of our friendship," Hull said. "That's something that we definitely worked on, talked about."

And further evidencing Hull's potential for creating plays on offense, Scheelhaase even admitted Hull was the faster runner of the two.

"I'll take it. That's good. At least he's honest," Hull said.


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