McCarren, Simpson Join Illinois Renaissance Celebration

Larry McCarren, OL, 1970-72
Larry McCarren, OL, 1970-72

Aug. 21, 2008

University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) officials announced today that Fighting Illini offensive line greats Larry McCarren and Tim Simpson will return to Champaign-Urbana for the Illinois Renaissance Celebration Game against Eastern Illinois Sept. 6. The pair of linemen join a long list of legendary Illinois players who will be on hand for the 2008 home opener, when fans will get their first look at the newly finished stadium.

"When you consider the history and the tradition of the University of Illinois in football, I think being in the top 50 in anything would be an honor, and then to be named in the top 10 is really humbling," McCarren said. "One thing I'm looking forward to is seeing old teammates and Illinois is certainly headed in the right direction. There's a buzz around the University of Illinois in football again, and to get a look at the team and the atmosphere at Memorial Stadium."

Tim Simpson, OL, 1988-91

McCarren was a first-team All-Big Ten center in 1972 prior to a 12-year NFL career with the Green Bay Packers. He was known as "Rock" after starting 162 consecutive games for the Packers, the fourth-longest such streak in team history. He played in two Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Packers' Hall of Fame in 1992.

"Given the rich tradition at the University of Illinois and all of the student-athletes that have played for our program, I am highly honored to be recognized as one of the Top 10 Linemen in the 100+ years of Illinois Football," Simpson said. "It means a great deal to me being part of that tradition, a tradition that epitomizes winning with integrity."

Simpson was an All-American guard in 1991 and was a two-time All-Big Ten selection. He holds the school record for career games started after starting all 48 games in his career. He also was named Illinois' Dike Eddleman Athlete of the Year in 1992. Simpson was a 12th-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 1992 NFL Draft.

The Illinois Renaissance celebration will be highlighted by the return of a multitude of former Fighting Illini players, with the list of 10 greatest Illini in Memorial Stadium history at each position being honored during eight breaks throughout the game. The current team also will honor past greats by donning throwback uniforms modeled in the style of the Dick Butkus era. Illinois will take on Eastern Illinois Sept. 6 at 11 a.m. The game will be nationally televised by the Big Ten Network.

The growing list of Fighting Illini greats slated to attend the Sept. 6 Renaissance Celebration:

  • Mike Bellamy, WR, 1988-89
  • Dick Butkus, LB, 1962-64
  • Mark Butkus, DT, 1980-83
  • J.C. Caroline, RB, 1953-54
  • Scott Davis, DE, 1983-87
  • Doug Dieken, TE, 1968-70
  • Jim Grabowski, RB, 1963-65
  • Chris Green, DB, 1987-90
  • Kevin Hardy, LB, 1992-95
  • Dana Howard, LB, 1991-94
  • Jim Juriga, OG, 1982-85
  • Kurt Kittner, QB, 1998-2001
  • Rich Kreitling, WR, 1957-58
  • Mike Martin, WR, 1980-82
  • Larry McCarren, C, 1970-72
  • Ed O'Bradovich, DL, 1959-60
  • Tommy O'Connell, QB, 1951-52
  • Joe Rutgens, DL, 1958-60
  • Tim Simpson, OG, 1988-91
  • Craig Swoope, DB, 1982-85
  • Don Thorp, DL, 1980-83
  • Jack Trudeau, QB, 1983-85
  • Jason Verduzco, QB, 1989-92
  • Chris White, PK, 1983-85l
  • David Williams, WR, 1983-85
  • John Wright Sr., WR, 1965-67