Hopkins, Brownlow to Attend Celebration

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics officials announced Thursday that Fighting Illini greats Brad Hopkins and Darrick Brownlow will return to Champaign-Urbana for the Illinois Renaissance Celebration Game against Eastern Illinois on Sept. 6.

The pair joins a long 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.

"I haven't had a career with a whole bunch of accolades, so for your college, years after you're gone, to recognize the job you've done is amazing," Hopkins said. "For someone to say 'Job well done, Mr. Hopkins,' is a wonderful feeling. Champaign is basically where I grew up into a man, so I'm looking forward to seeing all the things that were really influential to me as a young man."

Hopkins was an honorable mention All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 1992. He finished his Illinois career by making 34 consecutive starts and leading the squad to three consecutive bowl games. He was a first-round pick by the Houston Oilers in the 1993 NFL Draft and played his entire 13-year career with that franchise as it became the Tennessee Titans in his later years. He is Illinois' only offensive lineman to be taken in the first round of the NFL draft and was a two-time Pro Bowl selection. He played in Super Bowl XXXIV with the Titans.

"We've had a lot of good linebackers throughout the years, so it's definitely an honor and a privilege to be among that top tier," Brownlow said. "I'm just looking forward to seeing all the guys. Seeing Dana Howard and a lot of the guys who were in my era, and getting to meet some of the guys like Dick Butkus and Scott Studwell."

Brownlow was one of the defensive leaders for the Fighting Illini as they made three consecutive bowl games from 1988-90, Brownlow's final three years at Illinois. He was a three-time All-American and three-time first-team All-Big Ten selection. Brownlow ranks third on Illinois' career tackles list and holds two of the four best single-season tackles totals. He was a fifth-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1991 NFL Draft and enjoyed a seven-year NFL career.

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 breaks throughout the game. 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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