Media Notes: Spring Practice #1

The Fighting Illini opened up practice on Tuesday afternoon in Champaign, IL. These are the media notes provided by the University after the completion of practice.

Practice notes provided by
CHAMPAIGN, IL — The team may not be able to wear pads until its third practice, but that didn't stop the Illinois football coaching staff from picking up the pace in its first workout of the 2006 spring season. The squad ushered in the new season with a two-and-a-half hour workout under the lights of historic Memorial Stadium, with a fast-paced tempo through every minute.

OKRUCH DEBUTS: Tuesday also marked the first practice for new Illinois defensive coordinator Vince Okruch, whose family arrived in Champaign today as well. Despite the newness of Okruch to the staff, the defensive scheme remains the same. When asked how he did in his first practice, defensive players were highly complimentary.

"Coach (Okruch) is a straight-shooter," linebacker Brit Miller said. "And that is what I like about him. He is going to tell you if you aren't doing things the right way, but at the same time, he is going to praise you when he can."

NEWCOMERS GET TASTE OF ILLINI WAY: Illinois' seven newcomers to the squad were asked many questions following their first practice, primarily about the change in intensity.

"It is definitely a lot faster than juco," Antonio Stele commented. "But we have been working hard on our conditioning so we can handle practices like this."

"It was a lot of defense being thrown at us today," safety Justin Sanders said. "At times I just needed to relax and stop thinking and just play the way I know I can. We know that the coaches just want us to learn as much as we can during this spring."

"I was excited to get out there today and see how our work in the weight room is paying off," Oklahoma transfer Akim Millington said. "The spring is about building a team, a cohesiveness. During a season, you are going to get tired, but it is about working as a team to make sure you keep up that intensity."

ASK PIERRE: Wednesday night, Illinois fans will have the opportunity to ask Illini senior running back Pierre Thomas any question as he takes time for the spring's first online chat on Thomas will begin answering fans inquiries at 6:30 p.m. Questions can be submitted earlier in the day.

Practice notes provided by

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