CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Tim Beckman had some strong words Wednesday when describing the process of hiring a new offensive line coach on short notice. His former offensive line coach A.J. Ricker left for Missouri earlier this month, less than four weeks before the start of fall camp. That forced Beckman to make a fast hire. He brought in Tom Brattan, who wasn't retained at Maryland after 13 years on the Terps' staff. Beckman says it was important to find a coach who was unemployed, rather than doing to another school what Missouri just did to him. SUCH SHORT NOTICE, AND SAID HE DIDN'T WANT TO DO TO ANOTHER SCHOOL WHAT MISSOURI JUST DID TO HIM.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois football program is mourning the loss of one of it's own. Former Illinois offensive lineman Shawn Afryl died suddenly Monday night after he collapsed during a workout, while getting ready for his senior season at Winona State University in Minnesota. Afryl was a member of the Illinois football team for three years, but he graduated early and planned to use the remainder of his eligibility at Winona State.
ROCKFORD, Ill. - Former Illinois kicker Derek Dimke is hoping the third time is a charm when it comes to landing on an NFL team. Dimke will camp with the New Orleans Saints next week after getting cut each of the last two years. After a standout career at Illinois, Dimke says he is a little more relaxed this time around. Last year he tried out with the Tampa Bay Bucs. Before that, the Detroit Lions - but he has yet to make the team. He says he will go in relaxed and confident with the Saints.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) – University of Illinois head coach Tim Beckman announced the hiring of Tom Brattan as offensive line coach on Thursday. Brattan joins the Fighting Illini staff after spending the last 13 years as offensive line coach at Maryland, and he also spent time at Stanford and Northwestern.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois junior Josh Ferguson was named to the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award Thursday. The award is given each year to the nation's top college running back. Ferguson led the Illini ground attack last year with about 65 yards per game and 11 touchdowns. He also had nearly 45 yards a game receiving, which was second most of any running back in the nation. Ferguson is one of eight Big Ten backs and 53 players nationwide to make the watch list.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It didn't take long for Illinois to find its new offensive line coach. Exactly one week after AJ Ricker left for Missouri, a source close to the program confirmed to WCIA 3 that Tim Beckman has hired former Maryland offensive line coach Tom Brattan to replace him. Brattan spent 13 years coaching the offensive line at Maryland, but he wasn't retained after last season. In his time with the Terrapins, Brattan was responsible for recruiting the state of Illinois. The Delaware native has also spent some time as an assistant at Stanford and Northwestern. Brattan has 37 years of coaching experience in all. An official announcement is expected in the coming days.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Two Illini were named to national watch lists Monday. Junior Mason Monheim was named to the watch list for the Butkus Award, which is given to the nation's best linebacker. The award is named after Illinois legend Dick Butkus. Monheim, who is a former freshman All-American was ninth in the Big Ten with 8.1 tackles per game, including 6.5 tackles for loss, last year. Meanwhile senior Matt LaCosse was named to the College Football Performance Awards tight end watch list. LaCosse caught 20 passes for 237 yards and 3 touchdowns last season.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - We are less than a month away from the start of fall camp, and Tim Beckman is now searching for a new offensive line coach. That's because A.J. Ricker is leaving the U of I to accept the same position at Missouri.
Illini sophomore offensive lineman and president of the Illinois chapter of Uplifting Athletes led the third annual Lift for Life fundraiser at Memorial Stadium Friday night. The Illini raised more than $7,500 for acoustic neuroma, supporting former Illinois football player Andrew Carter, who was diagnosed with the condition in 2011.
The Illinois football team worked out under the lights at Memorial Stadium Friday night to raise money for Acoustic Neuroma. The event was hosted by the Illini chapter of Uplifting Athletes, an organization that raises money and awareness for rare diseases.
Illinois head football coach Tim Beckman landed another in-state 2015 recruit Wednesday. Hales Franciscan senior-to-be Patrick Nelson verbally committed to play for the Illini via his twitter account. Nelson is a three-star safety.
SAVOY -- The rain held off just long enough for an annual benefit.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois is not considering selling alcohol to the general public at Memorial Stadium. This news comes a day after reports that athletic director Mike Thomas was considering allowing beer sales during Illinois football games. Thomas released a statement Wednesday refuting that report.
For the first time in eight years, no Illinois football players were selected in the NFL Draft. Several guys signed free agent contracts over the weekend though, including Jonathan Brown, Evan WIlson and Ryan Lankford.
Jacksonville offensive tackle Gabe Megginson talks with WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten about verbally committing to play at Illinois.
Jacksonville offensive tackle Gabe Megginson committed to play football at the University of Illinois Friday night. Megginson is a four-star recruit and the third player to verbal in the 2015 class for Illinois.
The Blue team defeated the orange team 38-7 in the Illinois football spring game. Bret Beherns has more on the quarterback battle.
All eyes have been on the quarterbacks this spring, but another group that might be just as important to Illinois' success is the wide receivers group. The Illini lost their top three receivers to graduation, but WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten has more on some new faces that are opening eyes this spring.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Fans hoping for a decision on Illinois' starting quarterback after Saturday's spring game might have to wait a little longer. Head coach Tim Beckman said Tuesday he might wait until fall camp begins before he names a starter. By all accounts, Oklahoma State-transfer Wes Lunt has looked great all spring, and he performed well in Friday's scrimmage at SHG. Lunt seems to still have the inside track on the starting job. Senior Reilly O'Toole and sophomore Aaron Bailey are still getting their opportunities to win that job, and that competition might continue for the next several months before the coaching staff makes a final decision.
Highlights and reaction from Friday night's Illinois football scrimmage at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield.
We're a little more than a week away from the spring game, and there has been no decision yet on who will be Illinois' starting quarterback this fall. Wes Lunt, Aaron Bailey and Reilly O'Toole are all still splitting up the reps in spring practice. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has said all along he will be patient with this group before making a decision.
Ryan Cubit was named the director of football student-athlete development Friday. Cubit is the son of Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit.
Former Illinois quarterback Juice Williams is joining Tim Beckman's staff, the university announced Monday. Williams will be the new Director of Alumni and Former Player Relations. It will be his job to manage all alumni and former player relations. He will also assist with on-campus recruiting. Williams led Illinois to the 2008 Rose Bowl and broke Illinois' career and single-season records for total offense.
The Illinois football team practiced in pads for the first time Saturday as part of their spring workouts leading up to the Spring Game April 12. Several players from last year's team are also working out, but they're preparing for a future in the NFL. WCIA 3's Bret Beherns has more on former Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown as he gets ready for the NFL Draft.
If you're looking for a decision on a starting quarterback soon, you're probably going to have to wait for at least a few more weeks. While offensive coordinator Bill Cubit said earlier this week he could name a starter by the end of spring, he isn't going to force the issue. Right now, Wes Lunt, Aaron Bailey and Reilly O'Toole are all getting equal reps with the first-team offense, and Cubit says that will probably continue for the next few weeks.
19 NFL scouts from 18 teams were in Champaign Thursday for Illinois' annual Pro Day. Several Illinois seniors worked out in hopes of impressing the scouts before the NFL Draft in May. One guy who had a lot to prove was linebacker Jonathan Brown. He struggled in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, running it in 5.03 seconds. Thursday he improved that time, clocking in at 4.85. Brown also bench 18 reps at 225 pounds. He only did 16 reps at the Combine.
Spring practice began Wednesday for the Illinois football team, and the battle for the starting quarterback job is on. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit said Wednesday he hopes to name a starter by the end of the spring, but he will wait until fall camp if a starter doesn't emerge. Three quarterbacks - Wes Lunt, Aaron Bailey and Reilly O'Toole split up equal reps with the first team on day one.
Spring football practice starts Wednesday at the U of I as Tim Beckman prepares for his third year with the Illini. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten has more on some of the storylines to watch as Spring practice begins.
Tim Beckman announced Monday that running back Dami Ayoola and defensive tackle Vontrell Williams are no longer with the Illinois football team. Spring practice starts Wednesday. Ayoola was not with the team last year, but he had hoped to come back this year. Beckman said neither player followed the guidelines and expectations needed to be part of the team.
Illinois LEO Houston Bates has decided to skip his final football season at Illinois and will transfer to a school closer to his home in Louisiana to finish his collegiate playing career. Bates, a native of Covington, La., will graduate in May with his bachelor’s degree in community health, and would be eligible to play immediately at a different school should he choose.
Tim Beckman signed 12 new players on National Signing Day Wednesday, giving him 18 total new faces for next year's incoming class. It's a group that doesn't exactly have the national experts buzzing, but it does fill some positions of need.
Illinois defensive lineman Bryce Douglas was given his release from the U of I Tuesday, and he tells WCIA 3 he is hoping to transfer to another school where he can continue his football career. This comes after a neck injury ended his Illinois playing career early.
Centennial quarterback Jimmy Fitzgerald stopped by WCIA to talk with Matt Wettersten about his decision to commit to the Illini.
Centennial 2015 quarterback Jimmy Fitzgerald committed to play football at Illinois Saturday. He is a three star recruit according to rivals.com. Fitzgerald also had offers from Yale, Harvard, and others.
Illinois senior offensive lineman Corey Lewis' story has been told many times before. Three torn ACLs and five knee surgeries in five years. He was given a sixth year of eligibility, which he played from start to finish - only to find out after the season he had played the entire year with a torn ACL.
Spring football practice starts in a little more than a month for Illinois. There are a lot of question marks heading into Tim Beckman's third season - none bigger than who will play quarterback. WCIA 3's Bret Beherns caught up with the three leading candidates, who will all be fighting it out for one spot.
Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown has accepted an invitation to this year's Reese's Senior Bowl. The game - and the week leading up to the game - is essentially in NFL Draft showcase for college seniors. Brown was second in the Big Ten in tackles this season - fourth in tackles for loss. The Senior Bowl will be played January 25th in Mobile, Alabama and will be televised on NFL Network.
When Auburn and Florida St. kick off in the BCS National Championship game Monday night, former Illini Jay Prosch will be at the center of it all. Prosch started his career at Illinois before life's turn of events led to him to Auburn. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten has more on Prosch's chance to finish his career on college football's biggest stage.
Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown is heading to the Senior Bowl. The Big Ten's second leading tackler is one of 110 seniors picked to play in the game on January 25 in Mobile, Alabama.
The top 10 sports stories from Central Illinois in 2013 part two.
The top 10 sports stories from Central Illinois in 2013 part one.
Illinois football recruiting coordinator Alex Golesh said this year's recruits are in a "make it or bust" class. The Illini staff signed six junior college players in the early signing period in an effort to add depth and experience at key positions such as wide receiver and defensive line.
Illinois football got a big time commitment from one of the nation's best junior college players Thursday, 6-7, 280 pound defensive tackle Jihad Ward.
Illinois football coach Tim Beckman announced today that offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has agreed to a one-year contract extension that includes an increase in annual salary to $500,000 per year and keeps him on the Fighting Illini sideline through the 2015 season. The extension becomes official pending UI Board of Trustees approval.
Illinois running back Donovonn Young has no plans to transfer and will return to the Illini football team next season, head coach Tim Beckman confirmed Wednesday. There had been some rumors that the Houston, Tex.-native was leaving the team after a lackluster last two seasons, but Beckman says those rumors are false.
One big coaching chance a lot of fans are anticipating is that of defensive coordinator Tim Banks. Illinois ranked 110th (out of 123) in entire FBS in total defense, 104th in scoring defense, and 3rd-to-last in takeaways.
Illinois football coach Tim Beckman will return next season, Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas confirmed to WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten Monday morning. Thomas gave Beckman a vote of confidence, despite his 6-18 record in two seasons.
Illinois Director of Athletics Mike Thomas tells WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten that Tim Beckman will coach the Illini next season. Here is the entire interview as he gives his opinion and analysis on the state of the Illinois football program.
The Illinois football team finished the second year under Tim Beckman 4-8 (1-7). He insists the Illini are getting better.
SHG defeated Montini 38-28 to win the state championship.