Wily Veteran Pilcher Helping Youngsters

The last remaining remnant from Illinois' previous head coach Ron Turner is also one of the most important on a defense that is otherwise fairly young. Doug Pilcher has encountered many battles on the playing field, and he is now eager to impart his knowledge onto the youngsters who back him up.

Doug Pilcher first committed to Ron Turner prior to his replacement by Ron Zook. So while he is listed officially as part of Zook's first recruiting class at Illinois, Doug is the last remaining connection to Turner.

This will be the fourth year as a starter at defensive end for the Hinsdale Central prospect. He knows what he can do and all the tricks offensive linemen try to use against him. He has accepted a leadership role to bring the younger players along.

"We had a lot of guys leave last year, a lot of key players. This is spring, and we've got a lot of young guys. We're concentrating on getting them up to speed and coming together as a defensive line and working on things we need to work on so we can be better next fall."

There are some upperclassmen ready to replace departed seniors Will Davis and Derek Walker, and freshmen Whitney Mercilus and Glenn Foster are also vying for playing time. Pilcher works specifically with the youngsters.

"Among the young d-ends are Whitney 'Markalucious'. That's our nickname for him. I'm trying to help him and Glenn Foster. Those are the guys that are backing us up. We teach them technique and the small things, the little things that you have to do every day.

"I think we've got a lot of talent on the d-line. Right now, we're just trying to bring that talent out."

Pilcher practiced under the direction of former defensive line coach Tom Sims his first four years on campus. If anyone would have difficulty with the change to Keith Gilmore, it might be him. But he seems content with it.

"It was sad to see Coach Sims go, but Coach Gilmore is a great guy. It's all the same technique and fundamentals, so it's an easy transition.

"I've got nothing but positive things to say about Coach Gilmore right now. He's doing a great job. Even as a fifth year senior, I don't think it's a hard transition.

"He's come in here and told us what he expects from us. We're going to go out each day and just listen to what he says and take what we can from him. He's a great guy.

"He emphasizes fundamentals, and those are things we all have to work on. It's spring ball, and it's the best time to work on it. We're just working on our fundamentals and getting better."

Doug is a good person to ask about the tight ends since he must frequently meet them head to head.

"The tight ends are coming along good. We go against tight ends every day, so it's usually a battle in there. Mike Hoomanawanui is doing a great job. Of course, Hubie Graham is stepping up to fill the position pretty well."

The 6'-5", 265 pounder also admits the new offense under Mike Schultz is keeping the d-line on its toes.

"Our offense is going a lot quicker. I think Coach Schultz is stressing getting up to the line, getting the ball moving as quick as possible. They're trying to keep the defense off its feet."

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