Zook Wraps up Second Practice in Champaign

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The Fighting Illini football team wrapped up their second day of training camp on Saturday with another split-practice held at Memorial Stadium. The squad will now pack up for the beginning of Camp Rantoul, which begins on Monday after Sunday's annual Media Day. Zook took a minute to reflect on the second day with the media following the workout.

"Day number two went well," Zook said. "When you continue to add information, particularly for the new guys, some of it begins to run together especially with the tempo we go at, which is a little faster then they are used to. But, I think it's going exactly the way it's supposed to right now. The attitude is great and they are trying to give us everything they have. Tomorrow we get a little break and we go back at it again on Monday. Now that we are going to Rantoul, camp is really going to start. This has been mostly a warm-up."

Running Backs Spotlight:

This season as the Illini head into the 2005 campaign, most of the experience returning comes at the running back position. Three starters return at the fullback and tailback positions — senior Jason Davis, junior E.B. Halsey and junior Pierre Thomas. As a sophomore Thomas had a break out year with nearly 900 yards on the ground and another 700 in contributions to the kickoff return game. Halsey, who wasn't physically 100 percent last season still added to his strong freshman campaign with 461 yards and five touchdowns. Davis who serves as a utility back who can block, catch and run the ball, totaled 570 yards either on the ground or receiving. Add to the returnees, talented true-freshman Rashard Mendenhall, who was rated by many to be a Top-5 running back in the country and converted fullback Russ Weil, who played as a true-freshman at linebacker last season.

Running Backs coach Reggie Mitchell on his backfield…

"Both E.B. and Pierre have picked up were they left off from spring football. They have had a great summer and tremendous conditioning. We have three guys with a lot of ability between E.B., Pierre, and Rashard and I think it's a situation where we have to get all three of those guys involved. Then there's Russ Weil and Jason Davis who will get a lot of touches."

Pierre Thomas on the team's running backs…

"The backfield is good. When coach Mitchell was with Michigan State he played three backs so I like our situation. We have J.D. (Jason Davis) running both tail and fullback and we've got E.B. and I back there. Rashard has been working at it too. We also have to get the other guys, Russ Weil, Justin Ijei and William Obi working into the rotation. Everything is looking good. Coach Mitchell said a lot of guys will have a chance to touch the ball."

Jason Davis on the team's running backs…

"We have a lot of capable guys that will step up and play the position. Coach Mitchell is going to push us hard and that is what he is supposed to do. It's his job to get us ready for September third."

Player's Talk About The White Cleats:

The uniforms for 2005 will stay the same, but fans at Memorial Stadium this fall will see one slight difference — white shoes. Through the first two days, Illini players chimed in on what they think of the new digs.

Defensive Back Travis Williams …

"Last year we wore black shoes and this year Zook wanted us to wear white. I like white. I wore white in high school so I'm happy. I think they definitely make me look like I'm running faster. They're flashy but if you aren't fast, you aren't fast. "

Running Back Pierre Thomas …

"I like the new style a lot. Like everybody says, when you put them on you look fast, like you can take two seconds off your 40 time. They're sweet, I like the different style. We got a new coaching staff and a new style. They match perfect."

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