April 11, 2014
2014 Orange and Blue Spring Game
The Fighting Illini conclude their 15 spring workouts on Saturday, April 12, with the Orange and Blue Spring Game at Memorial Stadium at 2 p.m. CDT.
The Orange and Blue teams were determined by a player draft on Tuesday evening. The seniors were divided in half before selecting their teammates and coaching staff. View Rosters
Due to depth issues, seven players - QB Man Berg, OL Chris Boles, WR Kameron Fry, DL Brandon Roberts, LEO Kirk Roberts, STAR Conner Schmidt and RB Cameron Tucker - are listed on both rosters and could play on both teams throughout the game.
The game will be played with a normal clock for the first three quarters and a running clock in the fourth (except for the final two minutes if the game is close).
All drives after a score will start on the 27 yard line.
All punts will be fair caught.
Field goals will be kicked but there will be no rush.
Quarterbacks will not be live (if they're touched, they're tackled)
New this year - Kids can participate in football activities on a mini field in the south end zone before and during the game. To participate, each child will need to get a wristband at the marketing table in the East Great Hall and enter the field from section 109.
Illini Merchandise Sale
The DIA and Gameday Spirit Fan Store will host a Fighting Illini merchandise sale on Saturday, April 12, in conjunction with the Spring Game. Shoppers will be able to purchase used Illinois team-issued Illinois gear in addition to new officially licensed Fighting Illini clothing and souvenirs at discounted prices in the Great East Hall of Memorial Stadium from 9 a.m. through halftime of the Spring Game. Free parking is available in the northeast and northwest State Farm Center lots.
Nike Brand Identity Launch Set for April 16
Illinois athletics is about to complete a large-scale, 18-month brand evaluation program with Nike. The collaboration begin in January 2013 and will result in an updated brand identity starting in 2014, including logos, marks, uniforms and equipment for all 19 Fighting Illini sports. The rebranding will be unveiled on April 16, 2014, at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. There also will be a lunchtime event at Niketown in Chicago on April 17.
Continuity is Key
Tim Beckman's entire on-field coaching staff returns for 2014 after the team showed vast improvement in Beckman's second season. Returning for their third season with Beckman at Illinois are Tim Banks (defensive coordinator/secondary), Alex Golesh (running backs/tight ends/recruiting coordinator), Tim Salem (special teams) and Mike Ward (inside linebackers). Back for their second season are Bill Cubit (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), Mike Bellamy (wide receivers), Greg Colby (defensive line), A.J. Ricker (offensive line) and Al Seamonson (outside linebackers).
Six early enrollees - four mid-year high school graduates and two junior college transfers - are on campus and participating in spring practices, trying to get a jump on playing time for the fall. The early high school grads are quarterback Chayce Crouch, offensive lineman Peter Cvijanovic, wide receiver Mike Dudek and defensive lineman Paul James III. The junior college transfers are wide receiver Geronimo Allison and defensive lineman Joe Fotu.
In addition to the new faces on the field, two new support staff members have joined Tim Beckman's staff for the 2014 season. Former Illini quarterback Juice Williams, who led Illinois to the 2007 Rose Bowl and finished his career as the program's all-time total offense leader, joins the staff as director of alumni and former player relations. Former Western Michigan co-offensive coordinator Ryan Cubit, the son of Illini offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, also joined the staff as director of football student-athlete development.
Football Family Fun Fest and Movie Night Set for May 3
The Fighting Illini football team will host the annual Football Family Fun Fest on Saturday, May 3, from 3:30-5 p.m. on the playing field at Memorial Stadium. Fans will be able to meet the coaching staff and collect autographs, take photos and participate in a variety of fun activities with Illinois players. Football drills and competitions will be available for youngsters age 13 and under in addition to inflatable games like a bounce house, obstacle course and giant slide.
Following Fun Fest at approximately 6 p.m., fans and families are invited to stay for Movie Night on the giant Memorial Stadium video board. Fans are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets to watch on the field, or they can sit in the stands on the west side of the stadium. What movie will be shown? Fans can vote on one of four choices - Despicable Me 2, The Lego Movie, Monsters University or Remember the Titans - at fightingillini.com.
In addition to the honorary coaches, the entire Illinois coaching and support staff has been split into orange and blue teams.
Football Family Fun Fest and Movie Night are free and open to the public. Free parking will be available in the northwest and northeast parking lots of State Farm Center and in the grass lot west of the stadium if weather permits. Food and drinks will be available for purchase at the concession stands.
Honorary Spring Game Coaches
Seven former Illini will return to campus this weekend as honorary coaches for the annual Orange and Blue Spring Game. Honorary coaches will be Dana Howard, Rashard Mendenhall, Dino Pollock, Eric Rouse, Tim Simpson, Juice Williams and Martez Wilson.
Dana Howard was Illinois' first Butkus Award winner and was a consensus All-American in 1994. He was a three-time All-American, set the Big Ten record for career tackles with 595 and was a fifth-round NFL draft pick in 1995.
Rashard Mendenhall broke Illinois' single-season rushing record with 1,681 yards as he led the Illini to the 2008 Rose Bowl, earning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors. A third-team All-American and semifinalist for the Doak Walker and Maxwell Awards, Mendenhall recently retired after a six-year NFL career.
Dino Pollock lettered for the Illini as a wide receiver in 1989, helping the Orange and Blue to a Florida Citrus Bowl win over Virginia and a 10-2 record.
Eric Rouse was a three-year letterwinner at flanker for the Illini from 1976-78, leading Illinois in receiving yards in 1976 and racking up 41 receptions for 617 yards (15.0 ypc) and four touchdowns in his career.
Tim Simpson was an All-American guard in 1991 and was a two-time All-Big Ten selection. He holds the school record for career games started after starting all 48 games in his career. He also was named Illinois' Dike Eddleman Athlete of the Year in 1992. Simpson was a 12th-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 1992 NFL Draft.
Juice Williams, who currently serves as director of high school and alumni relations for the Illini, broke Illinois' record and ranked fifth on the Big Ten career total offense list with 10,594 yards. He engineered an Illini offense that broke school records for total offense and rushing offense in 2007, and led the Orange and Blue to a monumental 28-21 victory at No. 1 Ohio State on the way to the Rose Bowl that season.
Martez Wilson, a three-year NFL veteran, was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2010 after he tied for fourth in the Big Ten in tackles with 112. He helped Illinois to two bowl berths during his career, a win over Baylor in the 2010 Texas Bowl and an appearance in the 2008 Rose Bowl, and was a three-year letterwinner at linebacker.
Getting it Done in the Classroom
Under Beckman's leadership, the Illini have excelled in the classroom. A total of 42 players have earned degrees in Beckman's first two seasons and a record number of football student-athletes posted at least a 3.0 grade-point-average in back-to-back-to-back semesters - 39 in spring 2012, 42 in fall 2012 and 43 in spring 2013. The cumulative team grade-point average his risen dramatically since Beckman's arrival, going from 2.70 in fall 2012, to 2.87 in spring 2013 to 3.07 in fall 2013. In addition, 21 Fighting Illini earned Academic All-Big Ten status in fall 2013, up from 18 in fall 2012.
2014 Season Tickets on Sale Now
Season tickets for the 2014 season are on sale now. Sideline season ticket prices remain the same as last year for the seven-game schedule, $230 for seats outside the 20 yard-lines and $315 for prime locations between the 20s on each side. Single-game tickets, which go on sale in July, will be $49 for Big Ten contests and $39 for non-conference games.
Horseshoe and student season ticket prices remain an incredible value at $99 (less than $15 per game), while a new section of $99 family-rate season tickets also are available this season. Horseshoe tickets once again span sections 109-122, the new family-rate tickets are in sections 101 and 102, while the student season tickets remain in the north end zone (sections 132-137).
Complete Spring Game Notes (PDF)