Jarred Fayson transferred to Illinois from Florida and is in his second and final year with the Illini. He is used to playing in heat and humidity, but the first day at Camp Rantoul was a new experience for him.
"That was about the hottest practice I've ever experienced. The humidity was up. It definitely wasn't easy. But we definitely got better."
Fayson is a team player who wants what is best for the team. But he no doubt hopes his senior season can be a healthy and successful one personally. So far so good.
"I'm feeling good, feeling great. I just come to work every day. I've got a great coach on my side in Coach Petrino, and I'm just coming out and working for him and my teammates every day.
"It's going well. I can't complain at all. Coaches are doing their job of trying to get me the ball, and I do my job and compete every day."
The 6 footer has explosive speed and quick acceleration when healthy. He muscled up last year, and it may have slowed him down. He has now lost the extra weight and thinks that will help.
"Definitely. I weigh about 205 right now. As I say I'm back healthy, it's my senior season. I've taken a totally different approach. It's my last chance to get it right. I'm on the right path."
Fayson is now one of the old men on the team.
"Kind of funny. The guys look to me to set the tempo. I've just got to do a really good job of keeping my body language up and trying to keep everything going. Eddie (McGee) is a great leader, so between me and him we try to get things going."
Fayson and his mates needed someone to push them to be their best, and new offensive coordinator/receiver coach Paul Petrino is filling that role nicely.
"Absolutely. He's like a drill sergeant. I wouldn't say it's a love/hate thing, but you definitely appreciate that type of coach in the end.
"With this type of team, with the type of talent we have, he's the type of coach we need. That's all we can ask for. That's what we wanted, and now we've just got to go do our part.
"Coach Petrino is a technician, he's a perfectionist, he's a winner in everything he does. Out of a coach, out of a leader, out of a mentor you can't expect anything more. Sometimes it definitely gets hard and he gets on your nerves, but it's just something you've got to push through. You'll definitely appreciate it in the end."
Improvement began in spring practice, but coaches were not able to work with the players again until fall camp. In between, Fayson and his offensive teammates worked together to make necessary improvements.
"I think we took tremendous strides in the summer. We came out 3-4 times a week, sometimes twice a day, working on chemistry. Just working on everything possible to become a total better offense. We definitely have. We've still got a long way to go, but we've made a lot of strides from spring to summer and now to fall camp."
In addition to Petrino, competition is keeping Fayson on his toes.
"Yeah, we're pretty deep. There's like 13 of us. Coach Petrino always says he's gonna run some of us off. But the thing is, we've got a lot of guys that can get the job done."
He is impressed with a talented group of freshmen receivers.
"We've got a great young class. I think the most important thing is they've got a great coach pushing them. I wish I had Paul Petrino as my coach throughout my college career."
With Petrino and the other new coaches providing excitement, and with a new offense that should feature the receivers, Fayson says it is easy to forget the bad memories from 2009.
"Definitely. We don't want to view the past. This is a new era, new everything. We've got new coaches, a new vision, everything. You can tell practice is different. We're just trying to come out and work every day.