After what's seemed like weeks of buildup, the Fighting Illini finally returned the practice field today, beginning preparations for the 2011 season. The team was split into two groups, the orange and blue, so that the young players can get more hands-on instruction. While that certainly helps them learn the ropes faster, it does make for a long day for the coaches and support staff, who are on the field and out in the heat for four-plus hours. By all accounts, day one was a success. It's clear that the team worked hard in the off-season and that they're ready to go this fall.
Most of the talk amongst the media today centered around Trulon Henry's "move" from safety to linebacker. While Henry is currently listed as an LB on the roster and did workout at the SAM position today, it might not be accurate to call him a LB, at least in the traditional sense. In defensive coordinator Vic Koenning's system, the SAM linebacker spot that Henry worked out at today often plays like a safety. Since Koenning arrived prior to the 2010 season, the position has been held down by two former safeties, Nate Bussey and Ashante Williams, which makes Henry seem like a good fit. So while much was made of Henry's "change" today, his role may not end up changing much when all is said and done.