All-Decade Team Offensive Linemen Named

Dave Diehl is entering his ninth season with the New York Giants in 2011.
Dave Diehl is entering his ninth season with the New York Giants in 2011.

Aug. 18, 2011

The University of Illinois announced the third group of players on the All-Decade Team Thursday, with offensive linemen Jeff Allen, Jon Asamoah, Luke Butkus, David Diehl, Martin O'Donnell and Tony Pashos being named to the 31-player team. The squad, which honors Illini who played between 2000-10, was compiled by a combination of fan voting and input from Division of Intercollegiate Athletics staff.

Allen becomes the first current Illini to be named to the All-Decade team as he carries a streak of 34 consecutive starts into the 2011 season-opener. He was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2010 after helping pave the way for the top rushing offense in the Big Ten and 11th-best in the nation, as Illinois averaged 246.1 yards per game. He also helped lead the way for an offense that broke UI records for points scored (423) and points per game (32.54), as well as producing the second-most rushing yards (3,199) and fourth-most total yards (5,162) in school history. Allen was named to preseason watch lists for the Rotary Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy heading into 2011.

Asamoah was a second-team All-American by The Sporting News in 2009 after leading an Illini offense that ranked second in the Big Ten in rushing at 200.4 yards per game and boasted three games over 300 rushing yards. Asamoah was a three-year starter, helping the Illini to a Big Ten passing title in 2008 and a rushing title in 2007. He was a second-team All-Big Ten pick in 2009 and an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2008. He was a third-round selection by Kansas City in the 2010 NFL Draft and enters his second season with the Chiefs in 2011.

Butkus was a three-year starter from 1999-2001, helping the Illini to the 1999 Bowl and the 2002 Sugar Bowl. He was a third-team Associated Press All-American and a second-team All-Big Ten pick in 2001, and an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2000. In 2001, Butkus led an Illini offensive line that allowed 16 sacks, 390 points and 32.5 points per game, all school records at the time. Illinois also gained 1,653 rushing yards and 5,041 total yards. Butkus also helped the Illini break the school record for points and points per game in 1999 with 388 and 32.3, respectively. He played in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers in 2002 and the Houston Texans in 2004. Butkus currently serves as a quality control assistant for the Seattle Seahawks.

Diehl was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2002 after helping the Illini rack up the most yards of offense in school history (5,356) at that time, as well as 446.3 yards per game, which remains an Illinois record. That offense also posted top-10 figures for passing yards (second; 3,388 yards), passing yards per game (fourth; 282.3), total points (seventh; 346), points per game (seventh; 28.8) and points per game in conference play (ninth; 26.5). Diehl was a fifth-round selection of the New York Giants in the 2003 NFL Draft and enters his ninth year with the Giants in 2011.

O'Donnell is Illinois' most recent first-team All-American offensive lineman, earning the honor from the Associated Press in 2007 after helping the Illini to the 2008 Rose Bowl. He was a first-team Big Ten selection after leading Illinois to 3,338 rushing yards and 5,525 total yards, both school records. The Illini also scored 362 points, which ranks fifth in UI history. O'Donnell was a four-year starter at guard, compiling 45 career starts.

Pashos was a four-year starter from 1999-2002, racking up 47 career starts, which is tied for third among offensive linemen in school history. He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2001 and 2002, and along with Butkus and Diehl, helped propel highly productive Illini offenses during his career. He was a fifth-round selection of the Baltimore Ravens in the 2003 NFL Draft and begins his ninth year in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns in 2011.

A new position group of the All-Decade Team will be announced each weekday from Aug. 16-26. The offensive line is the third group revealed so far, joining the specialists (8/16) and defensive line (8/17).

The Illini open the 2011 season by hosting Arkansas State at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 3. It is the first of five consecutive home games and eight total home games, the most in Memorial Stadium history. Season and single-game tickets are available here.

All-Decade Team (through 3 of 9 position groups)
Jeff Allen, OL
Jon Asamoah, OL
Luke Butkus, OL
David Diehl, OL
Martin O'Donnell, OL
Tony Pashos, OL
Will Davis, DL
Corey Liuget, DL
Brandon Moore, DL
Chris Norwell, DL
Derrick Strong, DL
Jason Reda, PK
Pierre Thomas, KR
Steve Weatherford, P