Illini Gridders Earn Preseason Rankings

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — With college football preseason magazines hitting newsstands soon, three University of Illinois football players have been tabbed among the best at their positions by The Sporting News. Seniors Steve Weatherford and Jason Davis are both picked as the sixth-rated punter and fullback, respectively, while junior running back Pierre Thomas is ranked as the 20th-best return man.

Weatherford (Terre Haute, Ind./North) was a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the nation's best punter, and for the second year in a row, broke the Illinois single-season punting average record. Earning first-team All-Big Ten honors, he had a 45.4 average, which ranked fourth nationally. Davis (St. Louis, Mo./Lindbergh) is entering his second season as a starter for the Illini and has contributed to both the rushing and receiving game. He has compiled 778 yards of total offense and has scored five touchdowns.

Thomas (Lynwood, Ill./Thornton Fractional South) led the Big Ten in all-purpose yards last season, which was due in large part to his 27.1 yard per game kickoff return average. As a kick return specialist he ranked third in the league and 10th in the nation.


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