Trulon Henry came to Illinois from College of DuPage as a Junior College All-America safety. As Arrelious Benn's older brother, he has the physical strength and speed to be an excellent college player. But spring practice with the Illini is different that what he experienced previously.
"I did Juco spring ball, but it can't even compare right now. I'm just trying to get the technique down. We've been in meeting rooms, looking at stuff on the board. But when you get out here and actually do it, it's different.
"Getting used to the technique, getting used to the defense. Coach definitely has a nice defensive scheme to play, so I'm excited about it."
Benn helped prepare him for life at Illinois.
"Yeah, I kind of knew what to expect. In a way, it kind of prepared me a little bit more. I kind of know what to do, like hopping into the cold tub, taking care of your body, getting 8 hours of sleep a night."
But nothing could prepare him for the total commitment required at this level.
"As far as individual talent, it's not that big of a difference from juco ball. Coaching is different. And what we have to go through as far as dedicating your whole day, that's different. I thought the speed and size of people would be different, but there's really not that big a difference. Everybody out here is about what I'm used to almost."
Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning is also Henry's position coach. The Washington, D.C., product has great respect for his mentor.
"He's pushing us to be better, to be great. He sees the talent in each and every one of us. He wants that to develop and show on the field."
Henry is backing up Supo Sanni at free safety, while Walt Aikens and Travon Bellamy are battling it out at cat safety. The 6'-1", 220 pounder is improving, but his muscles won't relax and fire at peak efficiency until he knows the defense completely and can react without thinking.
"I still need some more time. I'm getting used to it. When you learn something new, you're not yourself. It's gonna take some time before you know the defense like the back of your hand.
"Coach shows us tape of the old players who played in his defense for four years. So they play a little bit different than how we play it because we're new to it. It'll come around."
Henry wants to succeed in football, but academics is just as important. He is highly motivated to achieve a degree.
"Definitely. People speak about football opportunity, but the biggest opportunity there is is to get a degree from the University of Illinois. Two years of football and I'm done here. But I will always have that."