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And So It Begins...

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While last week's Big Ten Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon may have signaled that the 2011 season was right around the corner, nothing hammers that point home more than the day players report to preseason camp. Today was that day for the Illini as they reported to Memorial Stadium for a day of check-in procedures.

Those procedures include things like weighing and measuring new players and running them through a battery of tests that include things like an eye test and asthma testing. All of these things help the strength and conditioning and athletic training staffs work better with each student-athlete on a day-to-day basis.

The newcomers had a meeting with the Illinois compliance staff then the entire team filed into the squad room for the preseason team meeting. Coach Zook got it started before associate athletic director Tom Michael, who is now handling sport administrator duties for football, had a few words for the team. Then associate athletic director Ryan Squire and compliance coordinator Sarah McPhee ran the team through the paperwork they had to fill out before they could practice. Some years that takes over an hour, but the guys all kept on task and got all the forms filled out in about 45 minutes. Then assistant athletic director for media relations Kent Brown introduced Derek Neal and me to the new players before giving a few pointers about interviews and Twitter usage. Coach Zook then dismissed the team to its first Varsity Room dinner of the fall before it reassembled for its first round of position meetings before opening practice Thursday at 3 p.m. Preseason practices are open to the public, so come get your fix of Illini football either at Memorial Stadium or Camp Rantoul.

With 34 freshmen on the roster, there are plenty of new faces to learn, but fortunately we'll have a few weeks of practice to nail those down and put them with the correct jersey numbers. Speaking of camp, be sure to check out the new Training Camp site. We'll be posting regular content to the site, including the incredible "Camp Rantoul" episodes produced by former Illini receiver and current creative specialist Frank Lenti Jr. Twitter updates from the @IlliniFootball account and links to this blog also will be aggregated on the site, and fans can find directions to Camp Rantoul and the full training camp schedule. There also are links to buy tickets and to recent articles about the team.

We hope you enjoy the blog and the new Training Camp site. Let us know what you think on Twitter!

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