Dana Howard, one of the best linebackers in Big Ten history, will be on the sidelines for the orange team.
April 5, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois coach Tim Beckman has announced the six former Illini who will return to campus later this month to serve as honorary coaches for the annual Orange and Blue Spring Game, which will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, at Memorial Stadium. Honorary coaches the orange team will be Jeff George, Mike Holmes and Brit Miller, while Doug Dieken, Dana Howard and Tim McCarthy will patrol the sidelines for the blue team.
Jeff George was Illinois' quarterback in 1988 and '89, earning All-Big Ten honors both years and honorable mention All-America honors in 1989 after leading the Illini to a win over Virginia in the Citrus Bowl. George finished his two-year UI career with 5,189 passing yards and 31 touchdowns. He was the No. 1 overall pick by the Colts in the 1990 NFL Draft and played 12 seasons in the NFL.
Mike Holmes was a two-year starter at running back for the Orange and Blue in 1979 and '80. He led the team in rushing both seasons, racking up 818 yards and six touchdowns in 1979, while also leading the team with 25 catches. He led a balanced ground game in 1980, with a team-high 305 yards and three touchdowns. He is currently the head coach at Chicago Leo High School.
Brit Miller started 38 games at linebacker from 2005-08, racking up 283 tackles and 33 TFLs in his UI career. He helped the 2007 Illini to a Rose Bowl appearance before leading the Big Ten in tackles as a senior in 2008, earning first-team All-Big Ten and third-team All-America honors as a team captain. Miller is heading into his fourth season in the NFL as a fullback. He spent one season with the 49ers and is getting ready for his third with the St. Louis Rams in 2012.
Doug Dieken was a tight end for the Illini from 1968-70 before spending 14 seasons in the NFL as an offensive tackle for the Cleveland Browns. At Illinois, Dieken led the team in catches and receiving yards all three seasons he played, including highs of 39 catches, 531 yards and four TDs in 1970, when he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and was a team captain. He was named NFL Man of the Year in 1982 and is currently a color commentator on Browns radio broadcasts.
Dana Howard is one of the all-time greats to put on an Illinois uniform. Howard was a consensus All-American and won the 1994 Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker. He was a four-time All-Big Ten selection from 1991-94, including three years on the first team, and still holds the UI career tackles record with 595. He was a team captain in 1994, helping the Illini to a win in the Liberty Bowl. Howard spent three seasons in the NFL with the Rams and Bears and currently is a financial advisor at Morgan Keegan and the owner of the construction company Zoie LLC.
Tim McCarthy was a safety for the Fighting Illini in 1969 and '70, but is most famous for being the United States Secret Service member who put himself in the line of fire to protect President Ronald Reagan during a 1981 assassination attempt. He received the NCAA Award of Valor in 1982 in recognition of his bravery and is currently the chief of police in Orland Park, Ill.
In addition to the honorary coaches, the entire Illinois coaching and support staff has been split into orange and blue teams. The players will have a draft to determine the orange and blue teams on Tuesday, April 10.
The 2012 Orange and Blue Spring Game is free to the public and parking also is free in the lots around Memorial Stadium. The six honorary coaches will join over 200 other former Illinois players, coaches and staff at the 2012 Varsity "I" Football BBQ Bash Weekend, held the weekend of the Spring Game.