Diehl and Butkus chat at Friday's practice.
April 1, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illini had a special guest for spring practice No. 9 on Friday night as two-time Super Bowl Champion and former Illini star Dave Diehl was in town to visit former teammate and current Illinois offensive line coach Luke Butkus.
"I've always been a proud Illini and Luke is like a brother to me," Diehl said after helping out at Friday's practice. "I told him, once the offseason hit I'd come back here, watch film and break down things with him to do whatever I can to help him with the offensive line."
Diehl played offensive line at Illinois from 1999-2002, helping the Illini to the 2001 Big Ten title and a trip to the Sugar Bowl. He was picked by the New York Giants in the fifth round of the 2003 NFL Draft and has been a regular starter ever since, making 140 starts in nine seasons with the Giants. He started at left tackle for two Super Bowl victories (2008 and 2012) and was selected to the 2010 Pro Bowl.
"Anytime we can have former players back on campus and be involved in this program, it's what this place is all about," Illini head coach Tim Beckman said of Diehl's visit. "He talked to the team and told the team a little bit about his season this year and how they became a family - some of the same things we've been trying to instill in them."
Diehl has stayed close to the Illinois program during his pro career. In 2009, Diehl donated state-of-the-art weight equipment for Illinois' football performance center as part of the Illinois Renaissance.
In addition to Diehl, there were over 1,000 other special guests at Friday's practice as the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association (IHSFCA) Clinic was in town. Most of the coaches took in Friday's practice under the lights at Memorial Stadium.
The Illini will resume practice on Monday with spring workout No. 10. The annual Orange and Blue Spring Game will take place at Memorial Stadium on April 14 at 2 pm. Admission and parking for the spring game is free.