The Illinois football team held a dress rehearsal Friday in advance of their final spring game. There were more people watching than usual as a large group of recruits, former Illini, and parents of players have arrived early for the big weekend.
New York Giant offensive tackle Dave Diehl observed practice. The loyal Illini will present a check for $350,000 to help pay for weight training equipment for the football team. Fall enrollees Justin Lattimore, Terry Hawthorne and Andrew Carter took in the action.
In addition, there were several prospective recruits there. Among them were Mitchell Roberts, a big linebacker out of Shiloh Christian High School in Springdale, Arkansas, and safety Andre Simmons from Lorton, Virginia (South County). Another recruit in attendance was Edward Bentley from Maurice J. McDonough High School in Pomfret, Maryland. A number of additional prospects will arrive prior to the Saturday tipoff.
Several Illini will not play Saturday due to injury, but there was good news on the injury front. Cornerback Pat Nixon-Youman was diagnosed with a muscle tear in his hip that will not require surgery. He will have a lengthy recovery period, but there is a good chance he will be healthy by fall. Jack Ramsey, Evan Friersen and Reggie Ellis all encountered minor injuries Wednesday, but they were back practicing Friday.
The Illinois players will be divided equally into two teams for the scrimmage. For instance, the white team offense will include Eddie McGee, Jacob Charest, Jason Ford, Troy Pollard, Jeff Cumberland, London Davis, Arrelious Benn, Fred Sykes, Hubie Graham, Chris James and Derek Dimke. The offensive linemen include Craig Wilson, Eric Block, Ryan Palmer, Jack Cornell, and Randall Hunt.
The blue offense will include Juice Williams, Daniel Dufrene, Mikel Leshoure, Michael Hoomanawanui, Jack Ramsey, A.J. Jenkins, Cordale Scott, and Chris Duvalt. The blue offensive linemen include Jeff Allen, Graham Pocic, Corey Lewis, Ryan Sedlacek, Mike Garrity, and Jon Asamoah. Field goal specialist Matt Eller and punter Anthony Santella will play for the blue team also.
Defensively, the white team will include Antonio James, Ian Thomas, Supo Sanni, Clay Nurse, Justin Staples, Garrett Edwards, Anterio Jackson, Ugo Uzodinma, Corey Liuget, Tavon Wilson, Russ Ellington, Evan Friersen, Glenn Foster and Nattiel Perkins.
The blue team defense will showcase Martez Wilson, Whitney Mercilus, Nate Bussey, Rahkeem Smith, Sirod Williiams, Aaron Gress, Travon Bellamy, Ashante Williams, Antonio Gully, Bo Flowers, Doug Pilcher, and Reggie Ellis.
The Illini have made significant progress this spring, especially on the defensive side of the ball. It should be a highly competitive game, one that should be fun for everyone in attendance.