Eight Gridders Join Illini Squad

CHAMPAIGN, lll. - Eight football players, seven freshmen and one transfer, enrolled in classes toMondayday at the University of Illinois and will join the Illini football team for winter and spring workouts.

Those players are Jeff Allen (Chicago, Ill.), Reggie Ellis (Washington, DC), Jarred Fayson (Tampa, Fla./University of Florida), Mikel LeShoure (Champaign, Ill.), Whitney Mercilus (Akron, Ohio), Graham Pocic (Lemont, Ill.), Fred Sykes (Tampa, Fla.) and Ashante Williams (Mayfield, Ohio).

"I am excited to have these guys here early," said head coach Ron Zook. "This will be a very beneficial experience for these players. It isn't for everyone, but these eight guys will be able to get accustomed to the schedule of a college athlete will getting acclimated to the academic demands so it won't be new to them in the fall when the season starts. They will have an opportunity to go through our winter workouts with the returning players and learn the offense and defense during spring ball."

Jeff Allen // Line, 6-4, 324 // Chicago, Ill./King Named to 2007 Chicago Sun Times All-Public League Team ... Led King to the state public leagye championships as a junior ... Team Captain ... Chose Illinois over N.C. State.

Reggie Ellis // Line, 6-2, 278 // Washington, D.C./Dunbar Top-rated player in the Washington D.C. area and ranks fourth nationally in defensive tackle quickness ... A four-star recruit by Rivals and Scout ... Posted 46 tackles and seven sacks as a junior ... Chose Illinois over Maryland, Michigan, Penn State and Pitt.

Jarred Fayson // Back, 6-0, 202 // Tampa, Fla./Hillsborough Rated the No. 3 receiver in the nation for the 2006 recruiting class ... High school quarterback who passed for 883 yards and ran for 936 and 22 touchdowns as a senior, leading team to undefeated season ... Transferred from the University of Florida.

Mikel LeShoure // Back, 6-0, 220 // Champaign, Ill./Centennial Rushed for 2,454 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior and topped 1,200 yards as a senior at Centennial High School ... An All-State running back as a junior and senior ... Ranks as one of the top-30 players in Illinois and top-30 running backs nationally ... Chose Illinois over Kansas, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Whitney Mercilus // Line, 6-3, 225 // Akron, Ohio/Garfield Ranked among the top-25 players in Ohio ... An All-State selection ... Chose Illinois over Kansas, Michigan State and Purdue.

Graham Pocic // Line, 6-7, 316 // Lemont, Ill./Lemont Ranked among Rivals Top 250 ... Four-star recruit ... All-Conference and All-State selection ... Among top-5 players in the state of Illinois and top-25 offensive linemen nationally ... Led Lemont to 6A state championship game at Memorial Stadium ... Benches over 300 pounds and squats over 400 ... Chose Illinois over Michigan, Penn State, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Florida.

Fred Sykes // Back, 6-0, 175 // Tampa, Fla./Chamberlain Rated among the top-100 in the state of Florida ... Caught 36 passes for 551 yards and three touchdowns as a junior ... Chose Illinois over Kentucky and South Florida.

Ashante Williams // Back, 5-10, 191 // Mayfield, Ohio/Mayfield NEOC Conference River Division Player of the Year ... Played defensive back and running back as a senior, compiling 99 tackles, 62 solo stops, six TFL, one interception and 10 PBU ... Offensively, he rushed for 1,574 yards, averaged 5.7 yards per carry and scored 17 touchdowns ... Also returned punts and kicks.

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