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Big Ten Football Kickoff: Day 2

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photo 1.JPGDay 2 Photo Gallery | Day 1 Photos and Video

After two whirlwind days of interviews and appearances, the 2012 Big Ten Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon are now in the books. I was extremely impressed with how the three Illini student-athletes in attendance - DE Michael Buchanan, C Graham Pocic and QB Nathan Scheelhaase - represented themselves, the University of Illinois and the Big Ten Conference.

photo 14.JPGAfter being bombarded with questions from dozens of media outlets for over four hours on Thursday, all three, along with Illinois head coach Tim Beckman, were back at it bright and early at 8 am Friday at the McCormick Place Hyatt Regency and Conference Center in Chicago. The day started with 2 hours of print and radio interviews, where the four Illini answered many of the same questions from yesterday, before going to a one hour fan autograph session. Coach Beckman also had a stint on the Big Ten Network with football hosts Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith, before everyone headed into the grand ballroom for the Kickoff Luncheon.

For Beckman, many questions once again on centered on Illinois coaches pursuing Penn State players, who are free to transfer after unprecedented NCAA penalties stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Beckman repeated the same message as he did on Thursday - they only talked to players that contacted them first, and they stayed off-campus while in State College. Other than that, there were many questions about the upcoming season, where the Fighting Illini will go for their third straight bowl victory with a new head coach and coaching staff.

photo 6.JPGThe Kickoff Luncheon itself is a first class event. ESPN's Chris Fowler served as host and Michigan QB Denard Robinson gave a great speech about making the right choices and taking advantage of the platform that Big Ten athletes have. Coach Beckman had a chance to talk about this year's Illini team, as he, Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Purdue's Danny Hope fielded questions in a group from Fowler for the over 1,500 people in attendance.

The Illini will now have a week off before reporting to Camp Rantoul on Aug. 5. The first practice will take place in Rantoul on Monday, Aug. 6. Look for a full training camp schedule to be posted at fightingillini.com on Monday.

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