Belichick on the Scene

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick spent time at Illinois Wednesday, working out potential draftees, speaking to the coaching staff and talking to current players.

CHAMPAIGN - And, oh by the way, Bill Belichick spent the day with the Illinois football team on Wednesday.

Illini head coach Tim Beckman casually mentioned that following practice, the team's last in preparation for Friday's spring game.

His excitement soon picked up after the subject was met with interest.

"That's freaking awesome," Beckman said of his high-profile visitor.

The New England Patriots head coach, winner of three Super Bowls and the three-time NFL Coach of the Year, was in Champaign to work out draft hopefuls Michael Buchanan, Akeem Spence, Terry Hawthorne and Hugh Thornton.

He then spent over an hour with the coaching staff, hitting on a wide range of topics, discussing all kinds of football matters as coaches so often do.

"We're all a fraternity and we all share ideas because this game is ever-changing," Beckman said. "Nobody's ever got all the answers, no one does. All of us are trying to get better."

Belichick's presence on campus caused a stir. Players began talking and tweeting. Safety Earnest Thomas was able to introduce himself.

"You could tell he's about his business, and obviously he's about winning," Thomas said. "You always want to be around people like that and introduce yourself to him and take the chance to say a couple words to him because you always can learn something from guys like that."

The Patriots drafted former Illinois safety Tavon Wilson in the second round of last year's draft. Wilson will be on hand for Friday's spring game as an honorary coach. Whether another Illini will join Wilson in New England is yet to be seen, but there's clearly interest from Belichick.

Some worked out, others spoke at length and some briefly said hello - regardless of the contact, Belichick's influence was felt at Illinois Wednesday.

"I think that was really good for whoever could get the chance to speak to him, just to say hello or whatever," Thomas said.

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