Beckman Turning the Corner(s)

Inexperience and youth at the cornerback position dictated the man at the top take control of the position.

CHAMPAIGN – Illinois coach Tim Beckman says a lot is different now than at this time a year ago.

He's entering his second fall camp in charge of the Illini, so of course there's a different feeling around the football facilities. But for Beckman, the schedule really has changed. This season, he's directly in charge of the cornerbacks, a move dictated by youth and inexperience at the position.

"I'm in the meeting rooms with the corners and we're out here working with the corners to try to make them the best," Beckman said. "We're extremely young, but that's what I love doing."

Beckman coached the secondary for five seasons at Western Carolina and the cornerbacks at Ohio State under Jim Tressel for two years, so he's not new to the workload.

It's the players he's coaching that are so fresh.

The current starters are Eaton Spence, a redshirt sophomore and sophomore V'Angelo Bentley. The primary backups are freshmen Darius Mosely and Dillan Cazley, as well as redshirt freshmen Jevarius Little.

Beckman has also been seen at practice coaching up players at the Star position, a rover-linebacker hybrid. Newcomer Eric Finney, redshirt freshman B.J. Bello and true freshman James Crawford are competing for the spot.

Adding it all – there's a lot of young faces Beckman's coaching up. The lack of experience may be why Beckman is now in control, but he says he's energized by the opportunity.

"I love it. I do. I love being with kids, not just coaching football but working the other aspects of the their life," he said. "So I have the corners and all aspects of their lives. That's what we do."

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