Kittner Joins Renaissance Celebration

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics officials announced Monday that Fighting Illini great Kurt Kittner will return to Champaign-Urbana for the Illinois Renaissance Celebration Game against Eastern Illinois on Sept. 6.

Kittner joins linebacker Dana Howard and defensive tackle Joe Rutgens on the list of legendary Illinois players who will be on hand for the 2008 home opener, when fans will get their first look at the newly finished stadium.

"It's going to be great," Kittner said. "You've got so many eras and so many great players at all positions coming back. It's going to be a great atmosphere because of the excitement from last year and the renovation of the stadium. Everybody's going to be excited to come back and catch up with old friends and see all the work that's gone on from last season to now."

Kittner was selected as one of the 10 greatest quarterbacks in Memorial Stadium history as released by the DIA on May 30. A large number of the Fighting Illini greats already have indicated they will be returning to campus for the event and their names will be announced as the game draws near.

Kittner is the second-most prolific passer in school history and holds career records for touchdown passes and total offense. He also ranks second in career completions and holds the school records for career attempts. Kittner holds the top two entries on the season touchdowns record list and many Illini fans recall his remarkable 1999 season in which he threw for 2,702 yards with a school-record 24 TD passes and only five interceptions. He followed that up by shattering his own record with 27 TD passes and leading Illinois to a school record-setting 32.5 points per game in 2001.

He was an honorable mention All-American in 2000 and led the Fighting Illini to a Big Ten title in 2001. He also guided Illinois to a berth in the 2002 Nokia Sugar Bowl, the Illini's first BCS appearance, and led the Orange and Blue to a win in the 1999 Bowl by throwing for two touchdowns, rushing for one and catching a fourth.

The Illinois Renaissance Celebration will be highlighted by the return of a multitude of former Fighting Illini players, with the list of 10 Greatest Illini in Memorial Stadium history at each position being honored during eight timeouts throughout the game. In order to allow Kittner to take part in the ceremony, the 10 Greatest Quarterbacks will be honored at halftime.

The current team also will honor past greats by donning throwback uniforms modeled in the style of the Dick Butkus era. Illinois will take on Eastern Illinois Sept. 6 at 11 a.m. The game will be nationally televised by the Big Ten Network.

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