Turner's Time Will Come

Illinois' receivers wowed the fans on Friday night as Malik Turner watched eagerly from the sidelines.

SPRINGFIELD - Decked out in an Illini pullover and as close to the action as he could position himself, Malik Turner intently watched his future teammates warm up on his field Friday.

Illinois bussed 90 miles to Sacred Heart-Griffin High School to scrimmage. It was an opportunity for fans in the state capitol to see what was going on with the team. For Turner, a member of February's signing class, it was a preview of what's to come.

"It's cool just to see the community being around and watching and learning about the team," the wideout said. "I've got my teammates that I've played with here and my future teammates are practicing, too."

As for Illinois showing up virtually at his doorstep, Turner gave the idea a definite head nod. He'll take part in these future adventures off campus, with potential practices to be held in Chicago, the St. Louis area and elsewhere.

"I think it does make a difference, just them going everywhere," Turner said. "Kids will see it and think it's their team."

He couldn't keep his eyes off the quarterbacks and receivers during the night. Wes Lunt played at nearby Rochester High, a name Turner has been hearing for years. He spoke highly of Lunt, as well as Aaron Bailey and Reilly O'Toole.

"I think they're all real talented," Turner said. "Wes has experience and O'Toole has experience from previous years, too. I'm sure they're working hard and they have a great QBs coach (Bill Cubit). I'm just watching everybody to see how they handle themselves and how they compete in practice. I'm watching the receivers group as well."

Turner says he's working most on speed and agility to prepare for his June arrival to Illinois. That goal led him to track, as a few of his high school coaches suggested he compete to improve his speed. "I wasn't really going to run anything. I was trying to get faster, but I think I'm going to run the 200," he said with a laugh.

Turner witnessed early enrollees Geronimo Allison and Mike Dudek make plenty of plays during the scrimmage. It was an easy question to ask — how bad did he wish he was already in the huddle with them?

"I'm not going to rush anything," he said. "My time will come to be out here with all these guys."

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