On the Clock

The Illinois football team will hold a draft Tuesday to determine the spring game rosters.

CHAMPAIGN - Mike Bellamy, your team is on the clock.

Or is it Greg Colby who will have the first pick in the draft to decide the spring game rosters?

A coin flip Tuesday will decide which team, one led by receivers coach Bellamy and the other by defensive line coach Colby, will have the first pick.

The seniors have already been split up, Beckman said, but everyone else is up for grabs.

"I like it a lot because it gives a lot of people the opportunity to make plays and there's not really a depth chart necessarily," senior wideout Miles Osei said. "You just draft guys that you think will make plays and you get some surprises. I think it's good."

It's more than good. It's become the competition before the competition, the battle to set up the battle.

The "head coaches" and their group of seniors will huddle during the draft, making decisions on players to add to the team. But it doesn't stop there.

"Everybody involved in our program, from chaplains, trainers, managers, we're all in it," Beckman said.

Even down to the sports information directors, both teams must field a complete staff. Given that the event includes people from every corner of the football building, back-and-forths and spirited attitudes are bound to spark.

"There's definitely a competition," Osei said. "We want to win. It pays to win with Coach Beckman. He rewards the winners and punishes the losers."

It's true there's a lot on the line.

"The winners get steak and the losers get beans and weenies," Beckman said.

And even more, Beckman unearthed the old spring game trophy, last used in 1998 before he re-installed the tradition last year. He randomly found it in the student-athlete dining hall shortly after he was hired.

"It was just sitting down underneath all this stuff, so I dug it out and we gave it last year," he said. "It's in the middle of the locker room right now."

It's true that the main purpose of the draft is to give the players something fun to do near the end of spring drills. But there are underlying football reasons in play, too.

Beckman likes to mix the rosters up. He doesn't want to run the starters versus the backups or a variation of the best offense against the best defense.

Instead, he'd rather disperse the starters from each side of the ball on each team, allowing for different lineup combinations and two side that are evenly matched.

For example, Beckman says, "now Donovonn Young has got to run behind maybe a different offensive line or it makes Nathan (Scheelhaase) now throw with a guy that's been running with the twos. They're not all ones."

The results of the draft will be announced later this week. The spring game is set for Friday, April 12 at 8 p.m.

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