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."
PAXTON, Ill. - PBL is looking to get back on track this fall. The Panthers won their first four games last year, just one win away from qualifying for the playoffs, but they went on to lose their final five games of the season. That bitter end to 2013 is motivating this year's 15 seniors to make PBL's first playoff appearance since 2006.
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."
Here's a video to get you hyped for the new season!
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.
CERRO GORDO, Ill. - The CGB Broncos have big shoes to fill this season. They lost their starting quarterback and running backs Steve Isbell and Dee Woods, who combined to run for more than 3,000 yards. "We want to show people that we still know what we're doing around here," said head coach Andy Kerley. "We've had probably 80 percent of our kids throughout the summer. I think that's kind of become our identity is that we want to show people that we still know how to play football around here."
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.
MONTICELLO, Ill. - Monticello head coach Cully Welter was just trying to have a little fun on a rare off-day last week. He took his family to a White Sox game, and during batting practice a ball was coming right at him. "A guy came from behind me, and he hit my hand," Welter said. "And as he hit my hand, the ball smacked me right [on the finger.]"
CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- Concussions and beating the heat are two injuries usually on the minds of players, coaches and parents.
Illinois opens Camp Rantoul Monday. The defense hopes to continue to improve and the linebackers are hoping to lead the way.
Defending champion Seth Trolia and Corbin Sebens both shot 68 (-4) to lead the Stone Creek Open after 18 holes. David Keenan is in third place after shooting 70. The final round is Sunday.
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.
WCIA 3's Aaron Bennett talked with Westville head football coach Guy Goodlove at our town Westville.
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.
DANVILLE, Ill. – Ronnie Jebavy hit the second pitch of the game over the left field fence, and Mark Hendrick threw a pitching gem as the Danville Dans beat the Quincy Gems 2-0 in the first game of the Prospect League’s West Division playoff series Wednesday night.
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
PAXTON, Ill. - The Okaw Valley Conference has officially extended an invitation to PBL, in hopes the Panthers will join the league starting with the 2016-17 school year. The OVC is in search of a new member after Maroa-Forsyth announced it will leave for the Sangamo beginning in 2016.
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.
URBANA -- The end of summer means the start of football. Soon, kids will be lacing up their cleats to start practice.
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.
DECATUR, Ill. - One of the top basketball recruits in central Illinois is switching schools. St. Teresa shooting guard Christian Williams will enroll at Lanphier High School in Springfield this fall, and he will play his senior season for the Lions. Lanphier coach Blake Turner confirmed the move to WCIA 3. Williams is one of the top prospects in the state for the Class of 2015. He already holds offers from Bradley, Illinois State, Northern Illinois and Green Bay. He averaged more than 18 points and 8 rebounds a game last season, and he will join a Lanphier team that spent most of last season ranked No. 1 in the state.
ST. JOSEPH, Ill. - St. Joseph-Ogden's Cole Berry has always been ahead of the game. He is only 16 years old, but he will be a senior this fall. WCIA 3's Matt Wettersten explains why now his baseball talent is making everyone stop and take notice.
Highlights from Round 1 in Savoy
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.