Ball, Weatherford Named Honorary Coaches for Spring Game

Alan Ball
Alan Ball

April 18, 2011

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Former University of Illinois and current NFL standouts Alan Ball and Steve Weatherford will return to campus later this month to serve as honorary coaches for the annual Orange and Blue Spring Game. The game is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, at Memorial Stadium.

Ball was a standout cornerback for the Fighting Illini from 2003-06. A two-year starter for the Orange and Blue, Ball finished his UI career with 198 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, two interceptions and 22 PBUs. He was twice named the team's Most Outstanding Defensive Back (2005 and 2006) and was a team captain and honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2006 after posting 62 tackles, 3.5 TFLs and a team-high 12 PBUs during his senior season. A Detroit native, Ball was picked by the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round (237th overall) of the 2007 NFL draft and has emerged as the team's starting free safety. He registered 46 tackles and two interceptions for the Cowboys in 2010, his first season as a full-time starter, after seeing a gradual increase in playing time over his first three NFL seasons.

Weatherford, a four-year starter at Illinois from 2002-05, remains atop the program's career punting average (43.5 ypp) and season punting average (45.4 ypp) lists. The Terre Haute, Ind., native was a two-time Ray Guy Award semi-finalist, a two-time All-American and a three-time All-Big Ten selection, including first team honors in 2004. He was also handed kickoff duties for the Illini and was a member of the track & field team at Illinois, still holding the indoor heptathlon record of 5,365 points. Since leaving Illinois, Weatherford has been with four teams during his five-year NFL career, with most of his time spent with the New Orleans Saints (2006-08) and New York Jets (2008-current). He has averaged 42.9 yards per punt as a pro and broke the NFL record for punts downed inside the 20 for a season with 42 in 2010.

Steve Weatherford

Ball and Weatherford will join up to 300 other former Illini players, coaches and staff who are returning to campus for the Varsity "I" Association's annual Football BBQ Bash Weekend. The 60th anniversary of the 1952 Rose Bowl team and the 20th anniversary of the 1988-92 teams that made five consecutive bowl games will both be celebrated during the weekend festivities.

"We're looking forward to recognizing Alan and Steve as our Honorary Coaches after all they've accomplished at both Illinois and at the next level," Varsity "I" Director Chris Tuttle said. "The BBQ Bash reunion weekend is important to us because we welcome back all the past players, managers, coaches and support staff, along with their families. They are the foundation of our program and it's exciting to see so many of them back on campus and supporting the Fighting Illini student-athletes following in their footsteps."

The Orange and Blue Spring Game is free to the public and parking is also free at the lots around Memorial Stadium.