The Intermat individual and team preseason rankings have been released and Illinois will head into the 2011-12 season tied for ninth. Six Illini will begin the season with a national ranking, including two who earn a top-five spot in their respective weight classes.
Junior B.J. Futrell is ranked No. 4 at 133 after earning his first career All-America honor after placing fourth at the Big Ten Championships. He finished the year 28-10 and topped four top-10 foes last season. The top-five ranking is a career-best.
Jordan Blanton, a junior from Richmond, Ill., is ranked No. 3 at 174 and will be major player on the national scene for the Illini this year. Blanton returns after suffering a back injury that ended his 2010-11 season. In 2010, he out-performed his No. 5 seed at the Big Ten Championships, finishing third, and out-performed his No. 10 seed at the NCAA Championships with a fifth-place finish that clinched his first career All-America honor. Blanton defeated five ranked opponents that season on his way to a 25-9 season mark.
Senior Eric Terrazas opens the season ranked a career-best No. 10 at 149 after qualifying automatically for his first career NCAA Championships by placing fifth at last year's Big Ten Championships. Sophomore Mario Gonzalez heads into the new season ranked No. 16 at 197, a career-high after compiling a 10-3 record last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Freshman Jesse Delgado battles for the starting spot at 125, ranked at No. 18 after having a great summer competing on the Junior World Team. Sophomore Jackson Morse is ranked a career-high No. 19 at 157 after qualifying for last year's NCAA Championships as an at-large selection after finishing seventh at the Big Ten Championships.