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|Matt Daniels here for another weekly chat. A lot going on around Illinois athletics and certainly our country this week.
Illinois football will try for its second straight win on Saturday at Wisconsin. If Lovie Smith's program is able to pull off the upset of the seventh ranked Badgers, it would mark the first winning streak this season for the Illini. But it's a big if.
Illinios announced the signing of Da'Monte Williams, Javon Pickett and Trent Frazier earlier this morning as part of John Groce's 2017 recruiting class. Notice how Jeremiah Tilmon wasn't mentioned. Groce can't comment on the East St. Louis big man, who is apparently going to wait until the spring signing period to ink his letter of intent, until the five star recruit, who committed to Illinois in July, actually signs.
We'll see if that is with Illinois or another program. Time will tell.
Let's get going with this week's chat, where a boatload of questions are already in the hopper.
Fair question. I would say until the eighth loss of the season, which may or may not happen, then the page fully turns towards the 2017 season.
Remember, three 5 7 teams made bowl games last season, and Illinois, if Lovie Smith's program is able to win at least two of their final three games and not enough six win teams secure bowl spots, might be in a position to steal a bowl bid.
A lot will happen, though, in the next three weeks to determine whether that's a possibility.
Illinois has already started playing more and more younger players as the season has gone on, especially on defense. Freshmen like Stanley Green, Pat Nelson, Kenyon Jackson and Jamal Milan are all seeing significant snaps, with offensive lineman Darta Lee seeing time early on, along with Dominic Thieman before the wide receiver broke his ankle against Minnesota.
The experience they are gaining can certainly benefit Illinois moving forward. We'll see if Smith elects to go even younger if losses happen at Wisconsin this Saturday and next Saturday at home against Iowa.
Mikey Dudek wanted to play this season. Badly.
But it's a smart move by Lovie Smith to not rush Dudek back out onto the field until he is fully healthy.
Dudek could still end his career at Illinois as one wholesale authentic jerseys of the program's all time best wide receivers.
He has a pretty cut and dry case for the NCAA to get a sixth year considering his two back to back torn ACLs he has suffered in each of the last two spring practice sessions, much like the situation with Tracy Abrams and his extensive injury history.
Suffering an injury like an ACL tear, especially twice in a 12 month span, doesn't exactly mean it's going to be a speedy recovery. The last thing Illinois would want to do is rush him back, only to see Dudek get injured again.
Illinois will likely have its initial Hall of Fame class in the 20 30 range considering how many wholesale nhl jerseys athletes they'll have to consider.
Yes, there will be some athletes, coaches and others who are left out of the inaugural class that'll likely draw outcry from some folks. That's bound to happen given the history of Illinois athletics.
But be patient. The school should get Cheap China Jerseys all the deserving candidates in at some point in the future.
Lovie Smith has indicated he'd be more than open to having former players come back and be around the team. Steve Weatherford was at the Rutgers game last month on the sidelines, with Dana Howard a near constant presence. Jeff George is in the stands every week watching his son quarterback the Illini.
Vontae Davis, Josh Ferguson, Clayton Fejedelem and V'Angelo Bentley were among the former players back for the season opener against Murray State.
That's just a few examples of former players who still keep close tabs on the Illini.
I'm not a fan of college football being played on Friday nights, no matter the conference.
Call me old school, but that night belongs to high school football during the regular season.
Illinois was more than willing to jump on the opportunity to host a Friday night game. It'll help attendance with the fact that Nebraska is coming to Champaign. The Cornhuskers always travel well.
Illinois fans who are also fans of high school football in the area will have to make a choice. There's some good local high school games already lined up for Sept. 29, 2017, with Monticello at Unity, Danville at Centennial and Champaign Central at Urbana.
But I don't think you'll see anyone fired for this idea considering Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, one of the most powerful figures in sports, is fully behind this push to give his league more TV time.
I know Illinois had talked about plans for Lovie Smith to have his own TV show, but it seems plans to do so this season fell by the wayside.
Illinois didn't have one with Bill Cubit last season either, so the last time and coach to have a program like this was Tim Beckman back in 2014. I remember catching it a few times, but it was on Fox Sports Midwest and during the day or at other weird times during the week. Didn't really seem to have a set schedule.
I'm sure this is something the DIA will look at moving forward for next season. Smith does have his weekly radio show every Monday night at Buffalo Wild Wings in Savoy and you can listen to that on WDWS 1400 AM.