RANTOUL, Ill. - Illinois head coach Tim Beckman said he will name a starting quarterback no later than Wednesday. He added that Saturday night's scrimmage will go a long way in determining who wins that job. The team wrapped up it's week of practices at Camp Rantoul Friday night, and now they will scrimmage under the lights at Memorial Stadium. That scrimmage will be closed to the public and media. Beckman said he is looking forward to finding out how far his team has come so far this season.
RANTOUL, Ill. - Whitney Mercilus had one of the best seasons in Illinois football history just three years ago. He was named the top defensive end in the country after breaking Big Ten and school records for forced fumbles and sacks. Just two years later the entire Illinois defense struggled to match Mercilus' individual effort. The Illini only managed 15 sacks last season - one less than what Mercilus tallied by himself in 2011. "We obviously know that that has to be a part of our game that improves drastically this year and we're working hard on it," said defensive line coach Greg Colby. "In fact, we're comparing ourselves to who was number one last year in the Big Ten and those are the numbers that we're shooting for."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois' newest assistant golf coach Zach Barlow is already on campus and getting down to work. Barlow was hired this week to replace Justin Fetcho, who is now the head coach at Southern Illinois. "[My] playing days are over," Barlow said. "It's time to focus on a national championship here, and bring in one of those. We've got some Big Tens. We got a runner up, but we need that big one."
RANTOUL, Ill. - Tom Brattan never saw himself at Illinois. He was happy at Maryland, where he had been for the last 13 years. But when his contract wasn't renewed, he was in a jam. Luckily for Brattan, so was Tim Beckman. "It's just one of those things that worked out well," Brattan said. "I don't know how you say it, the stars were all aligned correctly."
URBANA, Ill. - The Illinois volleyball team is getting some national respect as they start their season. The Orange and Blue are ranked No. 11 in the country by the national coaches. Head coach Kevin Hambly's message this fall is consistency. They struggled with that a year ago going just 18-15, and Hambly says they have to be better this season.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Jimmy Fitzgerald's future is set. The Centennial senior is headed to Illinois to play football next year. But before he goes, the three-star quarterback has some unfinished business with the Chargers - a winning season and a trip to the playoffs are his only focus for now. "Having six wins in the last two seasons is fuel to the fire," Fitzgerald said. "It just makes me want to work that much harder to get to the playoffs."
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Illinois football team got some bad news on the recruiting trail Wednesday as Sacred Heart-Griffin offensive tackle Quinn Oseland announced he has verbally committed to Minnesota, choosing the Gophers over more than a dozen high-major offers including Illinois.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) – University of Illinois head men’s golf coach Mike Small announced the hiring of former Fighting Illini standout Zach Barlow as the program’s new assistant coach Wednesday. A two-time All-Midwest Region selection, Barlow was part of Illinois’ Big Ten championship teams in 2009 and 2010.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois soccer team was picked to finish seventh in the Big Ten in a poll of conference coaches. The Big Ten announced the results of the poll and it's preseason players to watch Wednesday. Penn State is the preseason favorite, followed by Wisconsin, Maryland and Nebraska. Illinois checked in at seventh after going 11-9-3 and advancing to the Sweet 16 last season.
RANTOUL, Ill. - The Illinois football team enjoyed a little change of pace after practice Tuesday night. Head coach Tim Beckman surprised the team by renting a dunk tank. Every senior picked one person to get wet. DeJazz Woods nominated Beckman. The third-year coach says team bonding is a big part of Camp Rantoul, and he couldn't think of a better way to do it.
RANTOUL, Ill. - Jihad Ward grew up in North Philadelphia. It's a rough part of town. No one knows it better than Philly-native Bill Cubit, who recruited him to Illinois. "Grandma and mom, when I walked out of the house, they said, 'Be careful coach,'" Cubit said. "I said, 'My car is parked right outside. I got a real good parking spot right in front of the house.' She goes, 'Be careful coach.' That kind of tells you a little bit."
Update: 10:04 pm RANTOUL, Ill. - It's only day one of Camp Rantoul, and some tempers were already flaring. There was an incident Monday night toward the end of a scrimmage. Some players got into a pushing and shoving match.
Illinois opens Camp Rantoul Monday. The defense hopes to continue to improve and the linebackers are hoping to lead the way.
Several Illini cornerbacks were forced to play as true freshmen. Now they have a year under their belts and feel more prepared for the season.
There's a new look to the Illini wide receivers this year, but as WCIA 3's Bret Beherns reports the coaches are already singing their praises.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois football team suffered it's first major injury of the preseason. Junior linebacker Mike Svetina will miss 8-10 weeks after he suffered a broken bone in his foot. Head coach Tim Beckman says Svetina had surgery Wednesday night to repair the injury. Svetina was a projected starter at linebacker. He was Illinois fifth-leading tackler last season with 57 tackles, 2 tackles-for-loss and one forced fumble.
Aaron Bailey is preparing for the moment his number is called this season, and he is determined to do it as a quarterback. "I know I'm a quarterback, and that's what I'm staying with," Bailey said.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois wide receiver Geronimo Allison missed practice Wednesday with an ankle injury, but head coach Tim Beckman isn't worried. He says the junior college transfer should be back at practice Thursday. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit says Allison has been one of the top receivers so far in camp. Meanwhile the Illini put on shoulder pads for the first time Wednesday. No hitting yet, but they are getting closer as they inch toward a return to Camp Rantoul next week.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - For the first time Josh Ferguson is the go-to guy in the Illinois backfield heading into the season. It's a title and a responsibility the redshirt junior is still getting accustomed to. "It's a little more pressure," Ferguson said of being the featured back. "Being the understudy you can get away with little things but not so much as a leader. You have more pressure to do well and be perfect - but I like it."
URBANA, Ill. - The Illinois soccer team is receiving votes in the national coaches poll released Wednesday. The Illini are just outside the Top 25 after winning 11 games and advancing to the Sweet 16 last year. That national respect is thanks in large part to Jannelle Flaws. She led the nation with 23 goals last year on her way to being named Big Ten Forward of the Year. The fifth-year senior is back for one more season, and she is hoping she can somehow top her success from a year ago - even without one of the best players in school history, Vanessa DiBernardo, by her side.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - V'Angelo Bentley did something last year no other Illini player has ever done in a single season. He returned a kick off and a punt for a touchdown. And as WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten reports, this season one of the biggest Illini playmakers is looking for more.
COLUMBIA, Mo. - It's not exactly a feud between Illinois and Missouri, but Tim Beckman did imply that the Tigers may have gone too far - in his words "stealing" offensive line coach A.J. Ricker away from Illinois with less than a month to go before the start of fall camp. Ricker is starting to settle in now as the new offensive line coach at Missouri. He told reporters Tuesday that Beckman offered him a raise to try to keep him from leaving, but he couldn't pass up the opportunity to return to his alma mater.
Illinois offensive coordinator joins WCIA 3 for a LIVE interview and defensive back V'Angelo Bentley stepping up as a defensive leader
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Tim Beckman isn't tipping his hand yet, but Wes Lunt appears to open camp as the favorite to land the starting job. The Oklahoma State transfer is coming off a solid spring and summer, and he couldn't wait to get on the field Monday knowing what's ahead. "It was fun," Lunt said. "We got to fly around. I was excited, and the offense played pretty well."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The biggest problem for the Illinois football team on day 1 of practice had nothing to do with the players; it was actually the grass. Because of the unseasonably cool temperatures - the coldest July on record in Champaign-Urbana - the Bermuda grass on the practice fields east of Memorial Stadium were not completely ready. The result was slippery grass head coach Tim Beckman described as "a swamp," and divots all over the field. Beckman ended practice a few minutes early because of the damaged field, and he says the team will practice inside Memorial Stadium on the turf the rest of the week to keep the players safe.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois football team held it's first practice of the fall on Monday. Quarterback Wes Lunt talks about his first day of camp, and head coach Tim Beckman joins WCIA 3 for a LIVE interview
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- A big project kicked off Monday at UI.
Illini golfers Brian Campbell and Nick Hardy lost in the semifinals of the Western Amateur Championship. Campbell lost one down, hardy fell 4 & 3.
Illini golfers Nick Hardy and Brian Campbell are one win away from meeting in the finals of the Western Amateur Championship.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois football team will begin fall camp Monday, August 4th for a week of practices in Champaign that are closed to the public. They'll move to Rantoul August 11th, where they'll practice for six days with all practices being free and open to the public. CAMP RANTOUL SCHEDULE Mon., Aug. 11: 9:00 am, 5:30 pm Tue., Aug. 12: 4:15 pm Wed., Aug. 13: 9:00 am, 4:15 pm Thu., Aug. 14: 4:15 pm Fri., Aug. 15: 9:00 am, 4:15 pm Mon., Aug. 18: 10:45 am, 5:00 pm
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Four-star point guard Jimmy Whitt says he will visit Illinois this weekend, just a day after he listed the Illini among his final nine schools. The Columbia, Mo. (Hickman H.S.) standout is ranked among the Top 60 players in the country. He is also considering Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Marquette and others. There's a lot for Whitt to like about Illinois. They need a point guard in the 2015 class, and he also likes what he sees in John Groce and his system.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois LHP Tyler Jay had the opportunity of a lifetime this summer. He had the chance to play with the USA Collegiate National Team. And he didn't just play on the team; he was arguably USA's best pitcher. Jay led the team with 15 appearances. He went 2-0 with a perfect 0.00 era and 21 strikeouts in 16.2 IP. This was against countries like Japan, Cuba, Netherlands and Chinese Taipei. Jay will come back to the Illinois bullpen next spring, and head coach Dan Hartleb expects Jay to be better than ever.
BRISTOL, Conn. - Tim Beckman got the ESPN royal treatment on Wednesday. They call it the "Car Wash." Beckman spent most of the day at ESPN's headquarters in Bristol for a series of interviews across all of ESPN's platforms. That included stops on SportsCenter, College Football Live and in-depth interviews with ESPN's writers. It was all part of a two-day event where all 14 Big Ten coaches visit Bristol for ESPN's own media days.
COLUMBIA, Mo. - One of John Groce's top targets for the Class of 2015 narrowed his list of schools Wednesday, and Illinois made the cut. 4-star point guard Jimmy Whitt, from Hickman High School in Columbia, cut his list to nine. That list includes Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, SMU, Marquette, California, Arkansas and Kansas State. Whitt is listed at 6-3, 170 lbs and is ranked among the Top 60 players nationally.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois baseball team's newest assistant coach, Spencer Allen, was in town and on the job Monday. Allen has 12 years of coaching experience, including stints with Purdue, Washington State and most recently Creighton. He is known as a top-notch recruiter, and he is ready to hit the ground running.
CHICAGO - If Tim Beckman is feeling any pressure heading into year three at Illinois, he isn't showing it. The Illini head coach answered questions from the media Monday with confidence and a calm demeanor even after two losing season with the Orange and Blue.
CHICAGO - Tim Beckman wasn't ready to name a starting quarterback as he took the podium at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago Monday, and according to the head coach, it could be as many as four more weeks before Illini fans find out who will start the season opener August 30 against Youngstown State. Beckman told reporters he anticipates picking a starting quarterback by the end of two-a-days.
CHICAGO - Illinois has won just six games in Tim Beckman's first two years in Champaign-Urbana, and the Illini haven't played in a bowl game since 2011 - and senior Simon Cvijanovic has had enough. The offensive lineman will be leaned on to anchor a veteran group up front, but also mentor the next group of Illini players who are just beginning to make names for themselves. And Cvijanovic says the losing has to stop.
The Illinois football team opens practice in just over a week. It's an exciting time for offensive coordinator Bill Cubit. WCIA 3's Bret Beherns has more on Cubit and one of his biggest hobbies away from the field.
Former Illini and Central golf standout Clayton Parkhill won his record sixth Twin City golf championship Sunday. He shot -7 total in the 36 holes event. David Deschler was second at even par. Jay Scott took third at +1.
Former Illinois basketball player Brett Melton has spent the last few days giving back to his hometown. Melton was a standout player at Mahomet-Seymour in the late 90's. Bad ankles forced him to transfer after just two seasons with the Illini, but as our Bret Beherns shows us, Melton still bleeds orange and blue.
Danville Dans pitcher Cam Wysocki has one goal in life, to make you smile. Whether it's serving at the Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor or performing magic tricks in front of his teammates, Cam is constantly striving to make the world a better place, one smile at a time.
The University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics and head baseball coach Dan Hartleb announced the hiring of Spencer Allen as an assistant coach on Friday. A 12-year coaching veteran, Allen comes to Illinois from Creighton University, where he served as associate head coach/recruiting coordinator for the past two seasons.
Illini assistant golf coach Justin Fetcho will be the head coach at Southern Illinois, a source confirmed Friday to WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten. Fetcho was at Illinois for two seasons. He helped lead the Illini to a fifth straight Big Ten Championship and a national runner-up finish in 2013. He is from Eldorado, Illinois.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois Board of Trustees officially approved a contract extension and raise for men's basketball coach John Groce on Thursday. Groce gets a one-year extension that runs through the end of the 2018-2019 season, and a $100,000 raise that brings his total salary up to $1.7 million. This is the second extension and raise Groce has received in his two years at Illinois. He has a 43-28 overall record with the Illini, which includes one NCAA Tournament berth and one NIT appearance.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas announced Wednesday Warren Hood will replace Tom Michael as senior associate athletic director overseeing the State Farm Center renovation, after Michael was introduced Tuesday as athletic director at Eastern Illinois.
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.
CHARLESTON, Ill. - Eastern Illinois officially introduced Tom Michael as it's new athletic director Tuesday afternoon. Michael has spent the last 18 years working at the University of Illinois - most recently as senior associate AD, overseeing the State Farm Center renovation project. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten has more on an emotional day for Michael as he takes the next step in his career.
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.
Eureka standout golfer Trevor Gold has committed to play golf at Illinois. WCIA 3's Bret Beherns has more.