Aug. 9, 2014
Training Camp Central
Saturday was the first two-a-day of 2014 training camp, as the Fighting Illini practiced at 8 a.m. and then again at 6:30 p.m. inside Memorial Stadium. They were practice numbers six and seven of training camp. Practice eight will take play Monday morning at Camp Rantoul, where the Illini will experience wall-to-wall football for eight days before returning to campus on Aug. 19.
While Sunday will be a day-off from practice, it hardly will be a day of relaxation. The Illini players and coaches will make the rounds at media day, taking countless photos and answering dozens of questions, before signing autographs for fans at Fan Appreciation Day.
Coach Beckman de-striped the first four players on Saturday, with junior college transfers Geronimo Allison, a 6-4 wide receiver from Tampa, Fla., Carroll Phillips, a 6-3 LEO from Miami, Fla., and Jihad Ward, a 6-6 defensive lineman from Philadelphia, plus freshman Mike Dudek, a 5-11 wide receiver out of Naperville, Ill., being the first players deemed worthy of the honor. As has become tradition, Illini newcomers begin training camp with a single white stripe on their practice helmets. If their teammates and the coaching staff deem them worthy, newcomers can earn their way to being "de-striped" through hard work during training camp. The action signifies that the player is no longer being considered a newcomer to the team. "De-stripers" are announced at the end of practice.
Newcomers who have been "de-striped"
WR Geronimo Allison, 8/9
LEO Carroll Phillips, 8/9
WR Mike Dudek, 8/9
DL Jihad Ward, 8/9
Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday
Illinois' annual Fan Appreciation Day is coming on Sunday, Aug. 10, as fans are invited to come meet the Illini team and coaches from 4-5 p.m. The event will be held in the Great West Hall of Memorial Stadium and fans can bring up to two items for players to sign. There is no cost for the event and parking is available in the northwest State Farm Center lot.
Check out the Gauntlet Drill from Friday's first full pad practice: