1st annual Loren Tate Award Winner

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois wide receiver Isaiah Williams is the inaugural winner of the Loren Tate Media Award.

(Left to right) Larry Smith, Mike Cagley, Loren Tate and Steve Kelly in the WDWS Studio

The award, named after longtime Champaign News-Gazette writer Loren Tate, is awarded to the Illinois football player who not only is most cooperative with local media but exhibits himself with professional integrity in all interactions. Media who regularly cover the Illinois football team voted on the award.

Williams received 16 of 18 first-place votes. A total of 18 media members from 13 outlets participated in this year’s vote.

“Isaiah Williams embodies everything we want in an Illinois football student-athlete,” Illinois head coach Bret Bielema said in a statement. “His professional demeanor, integrity, and dependability make him the perfect candidate for the inaugural Loren Tate Award. Isaiah is special and will honor the award for years to come as he moves forward into the NFL.”

Williams, who has declared for the NFL Draft and will not use his final season of eligibility, emerged as one of the top receivers in the Big Ten last year. He led the Big Ten in receptions (82) and finished second in receiving yards (1,055) — behind only Ohio State star Marvin Harrison Jr. — to go along with five touchdowns. He was a First Team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and the media. Williams also earned All-Big Ten honorable mention as a return specialist after averaging 11.5 yards per punt return. He was the first Illinois player to earn First Team All-Big Ten at receiver since A.J. Jenkins in 2011.

Williams was a team captain last season and, despite just three years at receiver, is second all-time in school history in receptions (214) and fifth in receiving yards (2,304). He was the sixth player in program history with more than 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.

Williams was a team captain last season and regularly spoke to the media before and after games.

Loren Tate, 92, covered University of Illinois sports for the Champaign (Illinois) News-Gazette with frequency for 51 seasons from 1966-2017. He was News-Gazette sports editor or executive sports editor for the majority of those 51 years. He still continues to write a weekly News-Gazette column and is a frequent guest on radio shows on WDWS.

Before joining the News-Gazette in 1966 as sports editor, Tate was sports editor of the Hammond Times in Hammond, Indiana, from 1955-66. Tate served as sports director of WICD-TV from 1968-79, reporting on the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. news while also overseeing the News-Gazette sports section. He started his weekly radio show "Saturday Sportsline" in 1979 on WDWS.

He became News-Gazette executive sports editor of the News-Gazette in 1987. In 1988, he won first place APSE award for best news story. In 1991, he shared a second place APSE award for best news story with co-worker Bob Asmussen. He contributed to the News-Gazette regularly being an APSE Top 10 section, top 10 special section 2001, 2006, 2010; top 10 Sunday section 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010; top 10 daily section 2011.

Tate wrote the books "A Century of Orange and Blue: Celebrating 100 Years of Fighting Illini Basketball" and "Tatelines: A compilation of Loren Tate's best columns from more than 40 years of University of Illinois sports reporting."

He was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1974 and the United States Basketball Writers Association Hall of Fame in 2021. The University of Illinois gave Tate an honorary Varsity I.

“I was excited to learn of the media’s idea for the Loren Tate Award,” Bielema said. “Loren’s dedication to Illini coverage has been a tremendous asset to Illinois and the Champaign-Urbana community for decades. One of the standards in our football program is being “dependable” and Loren represents everything about the word.”

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