Four Illini headed to NFL Combine
Feb. 15, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS - Four University of Illinois players are among the 300-plus prospects invited to participate in the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Feb. 22-28. Former Illini offensive tackle Jeff Allen, kicker Derek Dimke, wide receiver A.J. Jenkins and defensive end Whitney Mercilus will all have a chance to perform for scouts with the 2012 NFL Draft approaching in late April.
Allen was a four-year starter and two-time All-Big Ten performer at offensive tackle for the Fighting Illini. A team captain, Allen started the final 47 games of his UI career, helping the Illini lead the Big Ten in rushing in 2010. He played in the 2012 Senior Bowl.
Dimke leaves Illinois as the program's all-time leader in field goal and extra point accuracy. Dimke hit 39-of-46 field goals (.848) and was perfect 89-89 on PATs at Illinois. He was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and finished his career ranked sixth on the UI all-time points list.
Jenkins finished his Illini career with a bang, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors after hauling in 90 catches for 1,276 yards and eight touchdowns. All three totals rank in the top-four on their respective single-season lists. Jenkins also finished third in career receiving yardage (2,432), catches (167) and touchdowns (19).
Mercilus decided to forgo his senior season at Illinois after leading the nation in sacks (16.0) and forced fumbles (9) in 2011 and earning consensus All-America honors. Mercilus is the seventh Illini in the last five years to enter the draft with eligibility remaining. The previous six all were taken in the first three rounds, including three first rounders - running back Rashard Mendenhall to the Steelers in 2008, cornerback Vontae Davis to the Dolphins in 2009 and defensive tackle Corey Liuget to the Chargers in 2011.