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    Former Illini Gridders Back On Campus

    April 24, 2006

    More than 200 former Illinois football players made it back to campus over the weekend to renew acquaintances with their teammates and other letterwinners. A reception, held Friday evening in the West Great Hall of Memorial Stadium, was the main formal event of the weekend in addition to the spring game, but a number of informal gatherings took place on golf courses and other local establishments.

    A number of former players and current staff members were privileged to meet arguably "the best linebacker to play the game," Dick Butkus, who was back at his alma mater. Butkus is one of only two Illinois gridders (the other is Red Grange) to have had his jersey number retired.

    Cassie Arner of the UI Sports Information office visits with Steve Weatherford ('05) and Duke Preston (2004) during the team's Friday practice session.

    Former Illini Ken DiFrancessa with Coach Ron Zook and Director of Athletics Ron Guenther.

    Scott Weaver (QB-1996) and Tim Simpson (OL-1991)

    Fritz Harms (DL-1967) and Rex Smith (E-1952)

    Coach Ron Zook with Terry Cole (DL-1983)

    Bruce Dobson (OL-1973) with Mrs. Lois Valek, wife of Head Coach Jim Valek (1967-70)

    Donna Dombroski, wife of Jack Dombroski (LB-1976) with Chuck Kogut (LB-1973) and Jim Kogut (DL-1977)

    Paul Luhrsen (OL-1953), his wife, Marlene, and Midge Wallace, wife of the late Stan Wallace (RB-1953)

    Two current NFL players were honorary coaches for the 2006 spring game, Neil Rackers (PK-1999) and Dave Diehl (OL-2002) with Karen Graham from the UI Athletics' development office, who formerly worked in the UI Football office. Rackers is currently with the Arizona Cardinals and Diehl with the New York Giants.

    Former Illini assistant football coach Carl Meyer with Greg Engel (OL-1993)

    Cam Pepper (OL-1990) with Jim Pesek (OL-1992)

    Dave Diehl (OL-2002), Assistant Director of Development Mike Hatfield and Sam Ellsworth (LB-1987)

    Charles Finn with former assistant coach J.C. Caroline (1967-76) and player (RB-1954)

    Paul Yadron (OL-1974), Stu Levenick (OL-1975) and Phil McDonald (OL-1976), dad of current Illini center, Ryan McDonald

    Chris Tuttle, director of the Varsity I Association, greets Tony Laster (OL-1991) and his son.

    James Chubby Phillips (RB-1976) checks in at the Stadium.

    David Williams (WR-1985) with UI Director of Sports Medicine Al Martindale

    Bobby Jackson (DB-2001), Brian Hodges TE-2001) and Aaron (OL-2003) Hodges (

    Kyle Schnettgoecke (205), Morris Virgil (2005) and Ryan Matha (2005) with current defensive backs coach Curt Mallory

    Coach Ron Zook with Dick Butkus (OL/LB-1964)

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