Big Ten Media Days: Day 2

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After eight hours of interviews and photo shoots on Wednesday, the Fighting Illini were back it bright and early on Thursday for the second and final day of Big Ten Football Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon at the Hilton Chicago. 

Head Coach Tim Beckman and seniors Tim Kynard, Corey Lewis and Nathan Scheelhaase started things off with breakfast at 7:30 before heading to media roundtable interviews for two hours. This is probably the toughest part for the players, as they just sit in the same seat for two straight hours answering the same questions over and over, the same ones they answered over and over to the TV networks the day before. As expected, the Illini had a steady stream of media attention throughout the session and, as expected, they handled themselves well. 

Next up, they went to one of the most enjoyable parts of the two days, the one hour fan autograph session. The players love this part as they get to interact directly with the fans. The Illinois autograph table looked great thanks to marketing director Jenny Larson, and the Illini table was buzzing with activity for the full hour. 

After the autograph session, the players and coaches from all 12 teams gathered for group photos before heading into the grand ballroom for the 42nd annual Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. Beckman was up front at the head table alongside Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, while the Illini players were seated with I Fund donors and DIA staff. Beckman answered questions on stage from emcee and BTN host Dave Revsine for the sold out crowd of 1,800, while Scheelhaase participated in the traditional football raffle toss, where QBs that are in attendance throw autographed footballs to raffle winners across the large ball room (see video below). The Kickoff Luncheon will air on BTN and BTN2Go on Friday night at 7 p.m. CT. 

After the KOL ended the Illini players headed back to Champaign to get ready for the start of training camp on Aug. 5. Beckman, meanwhile, stayed in Chicago and joined Dave Kaplan on CSN Chicago's SportTalk Live before going to a donor function Thursday night. 

All in all, it was a great two days in Chicago. Tim, Corey and Nathan all represented themselves and the Fighting Illini well, and all three made it clear they're chomping at the bit to start the 2013 season on Aug. 5. 

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