April 27, 2012
NEW YORK - Former University of Illinois football offensive tackle Jeff Allen and defensive back Tavon Wilson had their names called on Friday during the second day of the 2012 National Football League Draft. Allen was selected with the 12th pick of the second round (44th overall) by the Kansas City Chiefs and Wilson was drafted four picks later (16th pick in the second round, 48th overall) by the New England Patriots.
They are the third and fourth Illini chosen in the 2012 Draft, joining teammates Whitney Mercilus and A.J. Jenkins, who were taken in Thursday's first round. With four selections through the first three rounds of the draft, it equals the number of Illini who were selected in the 2011 NFL Draft.
"It's just like the transition I made from high school to college," Allen said of joining former Illini Jon Asamoah with the Chiefs. "Jon was one of the guys who took me under his wing, showed me how to work and how to perform at a high level. I see it being the same in the NFL, someone to look to and someone who can give me advice."
The four Illini selected mark the first time in the common draft era (since 1967 when the AFL and NFL drafts merged) that Illinois has had four players drafted in the first two rounds. It marks the second-straight year that three or more Fighting Illini players have been picked in the first three rounds of the same draft. It also marks the fourth-straight season that Illinois has had at least three players drafted, something that happened only once from 1997-2008.
"It's a dream come true," Wilson said. "I'm excited to be a Patriot. It's definitely a relief. I've been training since January 10 and it's been a long road, but now I'm a Patriot and I'm excited to be there. I probably surprised some people by going so high, but I didn't surprise myself. I had heard anywhere from the second round to free agent (status). I'm just excited to get a chance to play in the NFL."
Allen was a four-year starter and two-time All-Big Ten performer at offensive tackle for the Fighting Illini. He helped the Illini lead the Big Ten in rushing in 2010 and consistently graded out as the best Illini lineman among the categories of assignments, technique and effort. A native of Chicago, Allen started every game from the fourth game of his freshman year through the end of his career, a string of 46 consecutive starts, fifth-most career starts in UI history.
Wilson was a three-year starter, starting the final 38 games of his career, and two-time All-Big Ten selection at defensive back at Illinois. He was named a team captain in 2011 and was Illinois' outstanding defensive back in 2010 and 2011. He finished third on the team with 81 tackles in leading the Illini to a Kraft Fighting Hunger Bowl victory last season, Illinois' second-straight bowl win.
The 2012 NFL draft concludes on Saturday with rounds 4-7. Coverage starts at 11 a.m. CT on the NFL Network and ESPN. For complete Illini draft coverage, visit Illinois NFL Draft Central.