"GMO" Leading Newcomers at WR

JUCO transfer Geronimo Allison, who came in the spring, is gearing up for this season along with the rest of the Illinois receiving corps. Here's what the Tampa native had to say about this upcoming season.

After a JUCO national championship his freshman year, and a sophomore year unfortunately cut short by injury, junior Illinois wide receiver Geronimo Allison is just days away from stepping onto a Big Ten field for the first time.

"I'm very excited," he said. "I can't wait. It's going to be a new atmosphere for me so I can't wait to see what it's going to be like."

Allison joins a receiving corps that is a mix of newcomers, both from the junior college and high school ranks, but one familiar face for the former Iowa Western standout is senior receiver Martize Barr, with whom Allison won the JUCO national title.

"Martize is like a big brother to me," he said. "I can go to him for everything. When I came in, I was a little timid, but he was there to help me. Any questions I had, he always answered. He was a big help for me."

While many of his peers arrived in June, Allison, along with freshman Mike Dudek, arrived in the spring. Having those extra practices and film sessions made a huge difference in preparing for their Illinois debuts.

"It helped me a lot (coming in the spring)," Allison said. "Seeing the new guys that are here and involved in fall camp, they're a little timid trying to absorb everything. Being here in the spring gave me time to slowly learn everything and pick up the speed."

Allison's sophomore season was cut short in a brutal way. A broken arm suffered against College of DuPage shelved the receiver for the remainder of the year. But Allison asserted that he is feeling no ill effects from the injury.

"It's been great," he said of his recovery. "I haven't really had any problems. The surgery went well in November and I've gotten back fine."

In addition to rehabbing his arm, he has begun to improve his body and become a more physically dominant receiver.

"I'm almost there (to my playing weight)," he said. "I still have a few more pounds to go, but since I've been here I've picked up a lot of weight."

Without many seasoned receivers in the group, Allison still believes that he, Barr, and some of the other transfers can provide leadership to the unit

"We're coming together well," he said. "We're taking care of the incoming freshmen kind of like older brothers. Any questions they have, we help being farther along than they are."

Having a well-respected and well-liked receiver coach in Mike Bellamy has helped Allison and the other receivers so far, too. He feels comfortable with Coach Bellamy both on and off the field.

"Coach Bellamy is great," he said. "On the field, he's great. Off the field and in the meeting rooms, he's great. Any information that we need or any questions we have, he always has an answer. If he doesn't have the answer, he'll get us the answer.

The Illinois receivers have had to be flexible throughout almost all of camp, working with three or four different quarterbacks under center. Ultimately Wes Lunt was named the starter, but Allison feels that the receivers will be able to adapt no matter who is throwing the ball.

"I take it the same no matter who's under center," he said. "My approach doesn't change. As long as we're all in sync, everybody will be able to make plays. The competition is really pushing everybody. Things happen, but we're competing with each other, and the guys that need to be out there will be out there on Saturdays."

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