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Bielema Talks Quarterbacks, Assistants, Season #2 in Big Ten Media Days address

Bielema Talks Quarterbacks, Assistants, Season #2 in Big Ten Media Days address

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Football Writer/Analyst July 27, […]

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Illini Football Releases Its Official Fall 2022 Roster

Illini Football Releases Its Official Fall 2022 Roster

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Football Writer/Analyst

July 27, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS -- Illinois released its official 2022 roster heading into the beginning of fall preseason camp this Saturday.

Here are a few notes regarding the roster...

IlliniGuys.com can confirm no roster casualties in Bielema's program after the conclusion of the May 1 deadline.

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Illini OL Alex Palczewski on Preseason Outland Trophy Watch List For Second Time 

Illini OL Alex Palczewski on Preseason Outland Trophy Watch List For Second Time 

Alex Palczewski will begin his sixth and final season […]

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COLUMN: So, Who is Kevin Warren Lobbying For Big Ten To Make Bold Expansion Moves? Probably His 14 (And Future 16) League Bosses

COLUMN: So, Who is Kevin Warren Lobbying For Big Ten To Make Bold Expansion Moves? Probably His 14 (And Future 16) League Bosses

Kevin Warren is confident enough now to lobby the Big Ten chancellors and presidents at possible expansion and to get out of a “Sears & Roebuck” mentality moving forward. 

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Football Writer/Analyst

July 26, 2022

(Cover photo courtesy Robert Goddin/USA Today Sports)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Kevin Warren showed up at Big Ten Football Media Days on Tuesday saying he felt blessed, grateful and thankful. 

And why the heck not, right?

“When I think about how far we've progressed these last few years, my heart is warm,” the Big Ten Conference commissioner said in his introductory speech Tuesday morning. 

Yeah, that summer California sunshine he’s inherited can do nothing but certainly heat up your body, heart, mind and soul. The addition of Southern California and UCLA, regardless of who may have contacting who, allowed Warren use words like “transformation, strength, power, boldness

In last year’s version of the state of Big Ten speech, Warren stood at the podium at Lucas Oil Stadium and absolutely made no friends with the word salad that was regurgitated following the public whipping he took on behalf of his 14 bosses inside the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors when they got to skate over COVID-19 issues in 2020. On Tuesday, Warren finally had the opportunity to speak with his chest puffed out with a swagger of newfound confidence. And the leader of arguably one of the most important identities in college football spent most of time as a lobbyist. Warren stressed the Big Ten Conference needs to continue to make bold, strategic moves similarly to the expansion inclusion of USC and UCLA in order to build the cash cow of college football into what is slowly but surely becoming a Power Two and however many also-ran leagues exist in the future of the sport. 

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Bielema Adds Sean Snyder as Illini Special Teams Coordinator; Ben Miller's Cancer Treatment Will Continue Thru 2022 Season

Bielema Adds Sean Snyder as Illini Special Teams Coordinator; Ben Miller's Cancer Treatment Will Continue Thru 2022 Season

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Football Writer/Analyst July 26, […]

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Illini LB Calvin Hart Jr. Nominated to 2022 Butkus Award Watch List

Illini LB Calvin Hart Jr. Nominated to 2022 Butkus Award Watch List

The road to recovery for Illinois linebacker Calvin Hart Jr. includes being nominated among 51 players for the 2022 Butkus Award. 

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Football Writer/Analyst

July 26, 2022

(Cover photo courtesy Ron Johnson/USA Today Sports)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Calvin Hart Jr. needed just one game last season to get on the watch list for Butkus Award in the following season. 

And that’s a really good thing because one game is all he got in the 2021 campaign. Hart was arguably the premier member of Bret Bielema’s debut as Illinois head coach last August in a 30-22 victory over Nebraska on national television. Hart, who transferred to Illinois from North Carolina State, was named the Bednarik Award National Player of the Week honors and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week following 1.5 TFLs and a 41-yard fumble return touchdown in the first half before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the game that forced him to miss the remainder of the season.

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Bielema Attempting to Maximize Luke Ford’s Final Season in Champaign

Bielema Attempting to Maximize Luke Ford’s Final Season in Champaign

Illinois tight end Luke Ford has been nominated to the 2022 John Mackey Award preseason watch list as Bret Bielema tries to maximize his potential in an Illini uniform. 

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Football Writer/Analyst

July 26, 2022

URBANA, Ill. -- Bret Bielema knows what a John Mackey Award looks like and would like to see his projected starting tight end get close to level. 

Luke Ford, who is entering his final season at Illinois, was one of 54 tight ends to appear on the 2022 preseason watch list for the award given to the nation’s best tight end in college football. Ford, a 6-foot-6 and 260-pound tight end from Carterville, finished this past season with just 15 receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns last season. All of these career-high numbers for Ford, a former five-star tight end prospect who originally signed with and played his first season at Georgia, still represent a slightly disappointing set of results for a four-year career that he’s publicly said he’d like to reverse in his final season in Champaign. 

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Bielema Confirms Some Transfer Additions to 2022 Roster & Pre-Camp Injuries

Bielema Confirms Some Transfer Additions to 2022 Roster & Pre-Camp Injuries

Illinois head coach Bret Bielema was able to confirm some late additions to the 2022 roster via the transfer portal and a couple of players who will be unable to start fall camp healthy.

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Football Writer/Analyst

July 25, 2022

URBANA, Ill. -- Less than a week before the start of preseason camp for the 2022 season, Illinois head coach Bret Bielema confirmed some minor news to local media Monday before the beginning of his charity golf tournament at Atkins Golf Club.

Bielema, who is entering his second year leading the Illini program following a 5-7 inaugural season, confirmed that Kody Case, a graduate senior transfer wide receiver from FCS South Dakota, has been officially added to the roster. Case, a sixth-year senior, surpassed 1,000 career yards receiving at South Dakota last season and caught 12 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown last season. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound slot receiver was a two-time all-state honoree and 2016 ELITE 24 all-state defensive back for South Central Calhoun High School in Lake City, Iowa and still holds school records for points (354), all-purpose yards (5,060), receiving yards (2,205) and receiving touchdowns (32) while also compiling 147 tackles and a school-record 13 interceptions.

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Five big questions to follow ahead of 2022 Big Ten Media Days

Five big questions to follow ahead of 2022 Big Ten Media Days

By Zain Bando - IlliniGuys Student Correspondent

July 25, 2022

(Cover photo courtesy Peoria Journal-Star)

For the 50th time, the Big Ten Conference will host its annual media event ahead of the college football season. The event is scheduled to take place from Indianapolis, Indiana, July 26-27 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Although every big name will be there, the headliners will likely be the star of the event. Bret Bielema, Mel Tucker, Pat Fitzgerald, Ryan Day, and Jim Harbaugh are a few of the notable coaches. On the players side, the complete list is below. For the full schedule and appearances, go to this page provided by the conference.

Here are five questions to consider as Big Ten Media Day approaches:

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This Fighting Illini Roster Has NBA Talent

This Fighting Illini Roster Has NBA Talent

By Kedric Prince - IlliniGuys.com Director of Recruiting 

July 24, 2022

(Cover photo courtesy Joe Clark/IlliniGuys)

Today’s high school basketball and football players no longer say to coaches or recruiting gurus: “I’m going to a school that will help me get to the NBA.” Now they say “I want a coaching staff that can develop my talent and maximize it.”

Prior to Illinois head basketball coach Brad Underwood, Illinois having players who play in the NBA was like saying they would reach the Final Four for six consecutive years.

Illinois landed highly touted guard Ayo Dosunmu from Morgan Park, who developed into a first team All-American, did things at Illinois and college in general that other players could not do for years. Dosunmu was drafted by the Chicago Bulls late in the 2021 second round, 38th pick to be exact, shocking those who watched him play and all those who coached him.

Underwood said he believes the 2022-23 roster has a few guys that could potentially play in the NBA.

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Recruiting: Illini Offer Star Wing From Team Durant

Recruiting: Illini Offer Star Wing From Team Durant

By Kedric Prince - IlliniGuys.com Director of Recruiting 

July 23, 2022

Cam Ward is a freshman who plays AAU basketball for Team Durant, a teammate of prime Illinois target Amani Hansberry. 

Sitting court-side Thursday for their game against Mokan Elite was Illini head coach Brad Underwood and assistant coaches Chester Frazier and Geoff Alexander. 

The staff was tracking Hansberry of course, but also saw all they needed to offer the 6-foot-6, 180-pound forward from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, a scholarship as soon as the game was over. 

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Recruiting: Keep An Eye Out For 2023's Richard Barron

Recruiting: Keep An Eye Out For 2023's Richard Barron

By Kedric Prince - IlliniGuys.com Director of Recruiting 

July 22, 2022

(Cover photo courtesy Rich Barron's Twitter page)

Last year at this time, St. Ignatius power forward Richard Barron made an unofficial visit to the University of Illinois.  Barron is a teammate of Phoenix Gill, a current freshman who received a scholarship offer from the Fighting Illini.

Barron is a 6-foot-5, 205-pound shooting guard who Illinois watched a few times this summer. He is an interesting prospect who likes Illinois a lot, but he is what you might call a “tweener.”  He is big, strong and that works for high school, but would have to see that translate to college.

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Recruiting: Cam Christie Performs at the Under Armour AAU Event

Recruiting: Cam Christie Performs at the Under Armour AAU Event

By Kedric Prince - IlliniGuys.com Director of Recruiting 

July 21, 2022

(Cover photo courtesy Chicago Tribune)

There is no downtime in July; it is AAU/UAA basketball season, a couple weeks off and a couple of live periods for coaches to evaluate.

In the city of Bedford Park, Illinois, near Chicago, is a new basketball facility named the Wintrust Sports Complex. This week the UAA Finals, with plenty of talented players and DI coaches, are there.

Illinois recently offered Rolling Meadows outstanding shooting guard Cameron Christie, a 6-foot-3, 160-pound shooting guard; most recruiting services list him at a three-star prospect. 

In my most recent IlliniGuys state recruiting rankings, I listed Christie as the third best player in the state (2023), behind Davius Loury and Dai Dai Ames, both from Kenwood. 

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Recruiting: Live Period AAU Basketball Updates

Recruiting: Live Period AAU Basketball Updates

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COLUMN: Illinois Football Coaches Selling Their Vision On The Recruiting Trail

COLUMN: Illinois Football Coaches Selling Their Vision On The Recruiting Trail

By Kedric Prince - IlliniGuys.com Director of Recruiting

July 20th, 2022

(Cover photo courtesy Sports Illustrated)

(EDITOR'S NOTE: We asked our Football Writer/Analyst Matt Stevens and Director of Recruiting Kedric Prince to offer a point/counterpoint on Illini football recruiting in the 2023 class.  Kedric's view posts today after Matt's went up yesterday.)

To say the Illini football program has traditionally struggled to win consistently would be an understatement. Over the years, there've been some great teams and unbelievable players, but again not a program where opponents feared yearly.

The Illinois athletic director made a splash hire when he first arrived on campus when he announced Lovie Smith as the new man in charge. Like Smith or not, he had a very good NFL resume and most Illini fans remembered him as the coach who led the Bears to the Super Bowl and who was eventually fired after a 10-win NFL season.

The Smith hire was such big news that it was the lead story on ESPN's SportsCenter. College football analysts everywhere believed he gave the forever-struggling Illini a glimmer of hope.

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