Day One: Team Orange Tidbits

CHAMPAIGN - Quick hitting news and notes from Illinois' Team Orange morning practice session.

The morning session kicked promptly at 8:30 -- right on schedule. The plan this week is to have two sessions per day with the team split up into two groups. The orange squad, which is filled with mostly starters and those who figure to play contributing roles, drew the early time slot for Monday.

Team Orange includes Nathan Scheelhaase, Aaron Bailey, Donovonn Young, Wes Lunt, Martize Barr, Jonathan Brown and plenty more of the headlining type.

For the first few days the team will be in shorts, jerseys and helmets only, so no contact as the team conducts walkthroughs and conditioning-oriented drills.

Still, there were a few things I noticed…

Right off the bat, I'll go ahead and say it -- from a physical standpoint, Aaron Bailey looks ready to play. He's all of the 6-foot-2, 220 pounds he's listed at. I couldn't help but spend much of the open period watching the young signal caller. There were more than a few moments where he didn't quite seem sure of himself -- and that was just when the whistle blew to indicate a move to a different station.

At one point, the offense and defense matched up for a quick, 11-on-11 run through of plays, mostly handoffs.

Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase breezed through his portion with the starters. When Bailey got in there with the twos (Reilly O'Toole is on the Blue Team), Scheelhaase was right in his ear, guiding him through the pre-snap reads and showing him everything he needed to know (see the picture). That was pretty neat to see. Obviously Scheelhaase brings plenty of experience to the table and he's showing early on that he's going to help Bailey all that he can.

Speaking simply from a physical standpoint, Donovonn Young remains the most impressive on the team. Ryan Lankford is still super skinny. Ted Karras and Simon Cvijanovic stood out on the o-line. Houston Bates and Abe Cajuste look good, too.

Other than that, I should be able to gather more thoughts from these sessions moving forward. The first one always looks like organized chaos, especially with the split rosters. I'll have more to report after Beckman meets with the press this morning and from the afternoon practice.

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