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.
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.
Champaign school district officials have settled on a site for the new Central High School, and it's the one Athletic Director John Woods has wanted all along. Superintendent Judy Weigand said Thursday they will pursue the interstate drive site, eliminating Spalding Park and Dodds Park from consideration. Interstate drive will have the most space for athletic facilities and future growth. Right now, most central athletic sites are off-campus and some are even shared with other schools. "Allowing them the opportunity to stay on campus and do their thing is so important. The time that they lose traveling to all of our off-campus sites is time away from their family, time away from after school help, time away from homework, and it's just time lost. Now it's going be really neat to be able to provide those opportunities - an all-inclusive campus for all of our kids and the community", said Woods. The district has already purchased the land needed on interstate drive. The board will now decide whether to put a referendum on the November ballot.
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.
Update: 6:17, 7/25/14, Friday PANA -- An old drive-in in Our Town transformed into the Tanner Park Sports Complex nearly two decades ago.
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.
MAHOMET, Ill. - The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio are still more than two years away, but Dani Bunch is already training for the chance to represent the USA.
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.
DANVILLE, Ill. - He is one of the Danville Dans' top relief pitchers, but Tuesday night Cam Wysocki showed off one of his other talents. Wysocki sang the national anthem before Danville's home game against Springfield. Wysocki just finished his redshirt freshman year at Michigan, and he does a long more than just pitch and sing. He also juggles and does magic - showing there's a lot more to his game than just balls and strikes.
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.
Eastern Illinois has been picked to finish second in the preseason Ohio Valley Conference poll released at the league's annual Football Media Day in Nashville.
Incoming Illinois freshman golfer Nick Hardy has already played on some of amateur golf's biggest stages, now he's looking to leave his mark with the Illini this fall.
After playing professional basketball for three seasons in Paris, France, former Illinois basketball standout and Centennial alum Trent Meacham is looking for a new place to play in Europe next year.
Illinois junior-to-be Tyler Jay is one of 24 players on the USA national collegiate team this summer. Jay was one of four pitchers to help the United States no-hit the Netherlands earlier this summer.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Central grad Kam Rowan is continuing the tradition of Champaign-Urbana stars playing Division-I basketball, and he is staying in-state to do it. Rowan announced Friday he will continue his basketball career at Western Illinois University in Macomb. Rowan averaged nearly 11 points and 3 assists per game for the Maroons, who made it all the way to the sectional final. He should be able to compete for some early playing time for a Western Illinois team that finished 10-20 last year.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Central High School will have a new girls basketball coach this year, and Aaron Ratka held his first open gym Friday night to meet some of his new players for the first time. Ratka is a former Division-III player, who spent last season as an assistant coach for the Judah Christian girls. He says his goals for this season will develop as the team gets together, but he had one clear message for the girls Friday.
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.
ST. JOSEPH, Ill. - St. Joseph-Ogden grad Hunter Hart did not reach an agreement with the Baltimore Orioles, so instead he will pitch for Kaskaskia Community College next year. Hart was drafted by the Orioles in the 37th round last month, and he had until 4:00 pm Friday to sign. Hart had originally signed with Indiana, but now by attending Kaskaskia he can re-enter the draft next year.
WHEATON, Ill. - Illinois incoming freshman Nick Hardy shot back-to-back rounds of 66 and 69 Thursday afternoon before losing a four-hole playoff and a chance at an Illinois State Amateur Championship. Hardy gave Iowa sophomore Ray Knoll all he could handle before Knoll prevailed on the fourth hole of a sudden death playoff. Hardy (-7) takes runner-up at the State Am.
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - IHSA leaders feel like they are being unfairly singled out while they await word on if - and when - they will be called in for another hearing as state leaders investigate their transparency and financial accountability. They were scheduled for a hearing in Chicago last week, but it was canceled and has not been rescheduled. At the first hearing in Springfield the IHSA was not given sufficient time to call any of the witnesses they had arranged and were told they would not be allowed to call any witnesses at a second hearing. IHSA assistant executive director Kurt Gibson sat down with WCIA 3 to talk about it, and he says the state isn't treating his organization fairly.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois basketball will add EIU-transfer Alex Austin as a walk-on, Austin confirmed to WCIA 3. Austin played two seasons at Eastern Illinois before announcing he would transfer elsewhere. The Mt. Carmel grad averaged 7.0 ppg as a sophomore last season at EIU. That's a decrease from his 9.3 ppg average as a freshman. Austin will have to sit out this season, due to NCAA transfer rules, and then he will have two years of eligibility remaining.
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.
GEORGETOWN, Ill. - To some people it's just a bucket of coal - but to football fans in Our Town Georgetown it means much more than that. And the tradition goes back long before any of the current players were born. WCIA 3's Bret Beherns took a trip to Georgetown for a history lesson in one of the best rivalries Central Illinois.