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Mannny
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With all the news in college football in the off season there has been little from Illinois...very little.
Between Mendenhall and Lehman going to the draft, this years recruiting came kind of dull. Two big stars, one from offense and one from defense are leaving with little behind them to pull some weight...Now people may say two players doesn’t effect a team that much…and you are correct, but it is DEF a center piece in Illinois playing capabilities this upcoming year…

Recruiting aside,  turn your attention to Juice Williams.  You may have your opinions about juice...i know i sure had mine at times throughout this past season...but what i turn to is the fact that he has stepped up in the locker room this off-season and is starting to recognize that he is a leader now...in the beginning he was always toted along and help out, like a freshman/sophomore should, but in the past couple of weeks he has told his coaching staff that he realizes what kind of player he needs to be....He told them that the players will now look up to him rather than see him as a small piece in their 2007 season...

I know there is an article in ESPN college section (online) and that has provoked me to write this article...as hypocritical as it may sound (being an Illini fan) it is hard for me to picture Illinois running around the big ten this year with the same record as last if not better. I have them picked as maybe a 4th maybe 5th best this season behind Wisco Mich Ohio St and Mich St...and there is even talk of Iowa coming from left field and running top three this year….with the unfavorable schedule this year Illinois will be VERY lucky to sit top 3.… Last year was more of a hyped season, where things went well, the team molded and came together and produced....Now that the two major components of offense and defense have left...along with multiple other key seniors, this team (to me) is looking a little bleak and may end up being a bit overrated this season. The gracious end of season ranking we landed might be the highest we get.

A break down if you will….Juice is great at running the ball when under pressure or not finding an open man…With no star running back this year and a WR that put up just decent receiving yds,  Juice will be working with new back up players in key positions. Something that Illinois just got rid of and started working well as a team 2006. With this being said Juice will have the entire pressure of his team on his shoulders…no more running plays or outlet passes to Mendenhall…and DEF a huge loss in the O-Line category…which means less time to decide and a quicker time to act…

This wont be the same Illini we were surprised with last year….yes Zook has done a great job recruiting, but that class from last year was probably the best all around team work we will get for the next 2-3 years…No real big names were signed to Illinois and all I can hope for is another surprise year with teammates coming together and producing good football..

 

Go Big Ten! 

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