Practice 4: Thursday Morning
After three days of split practices as the Orange and Blue squads, the Illini returned to working as a single unit on Thursday. That gave the team a better opportunity to work on some special teams units as well as special teams fundamentals, such as how to shed blockers as a kickoff coverage player or what technique to use as a lineman on a field goal.
Even though the Illini were all together as a single squad, everyone still got plenty of practice reps as players were rotated through, especially as the temperatures rose toward the end of the workout.
At the end of practice, Coach Beckman gathered the entire team together on the west edge of Field 1 and a couple of staff members pulled a dry-erase board onto the field. Beckman called senior safety Tommy Davis and sophomore safety Earnest Thomas - Davis' "big brother" on the team - up in front of the group and told Davis that he had the honor of being the first newcomer to "de-stripe," or remove the white stripe from the middle of his helmet, because of his hard work over the last three days.
Davis and Thomas removed the stripe and attached it to the dry-erase board before Davis wrote his name on it. The action signifies Davis no longer being considered a newcomer to the team and it is expected that at least one rookie will remove his stripe through the rest of fall camp.
The team has meetings for much of the rest of Thursday before returning to the practice field Friday at 9 a.m. for another two-hour practice.