All-Decade Team Defensive Backs Named
Aug. 22, 2011
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois announced the fifth group of players on the All-Decade Team Monday, with defensive backs Alan Ball, Vontae Davis, Kelvin Hayden, Kevin Mitchell and Eugene Wilson 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.
Ball was a three-year starter at cornerback from 2004-06 and also started five games in 2003 for a total of 35 career starts. He ranks eighth on UI's career passes broken up record list with 22 and his 12 PBUs in 2006 are tied for fifth-most in school history. He also is tied for fifth on the single-game PBUs record list with four PBUs against Indiana on Oct. 14, 2006. Ball was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2006 and a seventh-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2007 NFL Draft. He is entering his fifth year with the Cowboys in 2011.
Davis was a third-team All-American by Pro Football Weekly and Rivals.com in 2008 after ranking second on the Illini with 78 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, two interceptions and eight PBUs. He also forced three fumbles and recovered one. He was a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2008, earned first-team accolades from the coaches and second-team from the media in 2007 and honorable mention honors in 2006. Davis is tied with Ball and three others for fifth on the UI career PBU record list with 22 and he shared the team lead with Brit Miller in 2008. Davis entered the 2009 NFL Draft after his junior year and was a first-round selection by the Miami Dolphins. He enters his third season with the Dolphins in 2011.
Hayden was named to the All-Decade Team despite playing only two years at Illinois after transferring from Joliet Junior College prior to the 2003 season. He led the Illini in receiving yards and receptions in 2003 with 592 and 52, respectively. After switching to cornerback during the following spring practice, Hayden started all 11 games and finished fifth on the team with 71 tackles. He tied for the Big Ten lead with four interceptions and ranked 10th in passes defended. He also led the Illini with six PBUs, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors following the season. He was drafted in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts and is currently a free agent after playing the last six seasons with the Colts.
Mitchell was a three-year starter at safety from 2005-07, totaling 33 career starts and helping lead the Illini to the 2008 Rose Bowl. He led Illinois with 78 tackles in 2005 and had a team-high 11 PBUs in 2007, a figure that is tied for 10th on the UI single-season PBUs record list. He also tied for the team interceptions lead in 2006 and led the squad with five picks in 2007. Mitchell was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2007 and signed a free-agent contract with the Washington Redskins prior to the 2008 season. He currently serves as the defensive graduate assistant at New Mexico.
Wilson was a 2002 Playboy All-American and a semifinalist for the 2002 Thorpe Award. He was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2001 and a second-team pick in 2002. He also was a second-team All-American in 2001 by Football News and a third-team All-American by The Sporting News. He led the nation in PBUs in 2001 with 30, which also is a UI record. His 16 PBUs in 2000 and 14 in 2002 also rank third and fourth, respectively. He holds the UI career PBU record with 60 and is tied for second on the single-game record list with five against Penn State on Nov. 10, 2001. He also led the Illini in interceptions in 2000 and 2001, and is tied for sixth in career interceptions with 11. His six picks in 2001 are tied for seventh in school history. Wilson also ranks fifth in UI history in career punt return average, while holding the seventh- and ninth-best season punt return averages. He holds the Nos. 3, 4, 8 and 10 entries on the single-game punt return average list and his 896 career punt return yards are a school record. He also holds the second-, fourth- and eighth-best season punt return yardage figures. Wilson was selected by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft and has two Super Bowl rings after winning Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX with the Patriots. He currently is a free agent after playing with the Patriots from 2003-07 and the Houston Texans from 2008-10.
A new position group of the All-Decade Team will be announced each weekday from Aug. 16-25.
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.