Aug. 12, 2014
Coach Beckman Interview
RANTOUL, Ill. - The Fighting Illini returned to the Camp Rantoul practice fields after Monday's half-scrimmage with one session on Tuesday, wearing shells - or shoulder pads and shorts. Illinois worked for over two hours on the cool, cloudy evening, continuing to stress consistency.
Dunk Tank Boosts Players' Spirits
After their morning lifting and walkthroughs, the Illini went into the tent outside the practice fields where interviews are usually held. But this wasn't to speak with media members or even to undergo another media training session. Director of Football Operations Tim Knox had arranged for a dunk tank to be delivered to Camp Rantoul and the coaching staff surprised the players with it. The rules were simple: each senior got to pick one staff member to sit in the dunk tank, then the senior got two attempts at hitting the target with a football.
After practice, a few more seniors still had to take their turn and they made it count. Offensive lineman Michael Heitz called the name of former Illini receiver/holder Frank Lenti, who currently serves as an associate director of video services with Illini Productions. Ever the good sport, Lenti jumped in the dunk tank and Heitz dropped him in.
Then, as one of the final seniors to choose, leo DeJazz Woods made the ultimate selection: head coach Tim Beckman. Beckman may have suffered from an oversensitive trigger on the dunk tank, as he fell in before Woods even threw a ball, but he hopped back up on the seat and took his chances. Woods missed with the first toss but found the target with the second and Beckman dropped into the tank once again.
Lincoln's Challenge Cadets Visit Practice
Also after practice, a number of Illini players visited with cadets from Lincoln's Challenge Academy. The academy houses at-risk youth who receive instruction in life coping skills using a military model, with the goal of improving their employability. Twenty-nine states operate Youth Challenge Programs. Illinois has the largest program with an annual target of 800 graduates and it is located on another section of the former Chanute Air Force Base.
Freshmen Chris James and Peter Cvijanovic added their helmet stripes to the whiteboard on Tuesday as part of the "de-striping" process. 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.
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
OL Nick Allegretti, 8/11 AM
LB Henry McGrew, 8/11 AM
WR Malik Turner, 8/11 AM
OL Jake Angona, 8/11 PM
DL Paul James III, 8/11 PM
DB Chris James, 8/12
OL Peter Cvijanovic, 8/12
Illinois has its second two-a-day practice on Wednesday, going at 9 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. at Camp Rantoul.