Football
Update On Former Illini In The NFL

 
 

Sept. 8, 2008

Currently there are 20 former Fighting Illini football players in the National Football League, 17 of them are on active rosters. Here's how they fared in Week 1 of the 2008 regular season...

Illini in the NFL




Alan Ball
CB
Dallas Cowboys
Ball played but did not record any stats in the Cowboys 28-10 win over the Cleveland Browns.

Bio | Stats



Danny Clark
LB
New York Giants
Clark had four tackles in his debut with the New York Giants. Clark and the Giants rolled to a 16-7 victory over the Washington Redskins.

Bio | Stats



Carey Davis
FB
Pittsburgh Steelers
Davis had one reception for 10 yards in the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-17 win over the Houston Texans.

Bio | Stats




Jason Davis
FB, Chicago Bears
3rd year in
NFL (2008) - on Bears' practice squad

Bio | Stats




Dave Diehl
OL
New York Giants
Diehl made his 81st consecutive start for the New York Giants in their 16-7 win over the Washington Redskins. Diehl helped pave the way for 354 total offense yards and was part of a unit that allowed just one sack in the Giants season opener.

Bio | Stats

"Illinois football is really a huge family, and that's the great thing, because every time you go back you are bound to run into a couple of alumni who played at Illinois. It's fun to share your experiences with them and see where they are. It's kind of a fraternity in itself, and seeing all the alumni who come back, you can tell how much the program means to them."   - Dave Diehl



Kelvin Hayden
CB
Indianapolis Colts
Hayden had two solo tackles in the Indianapolis Colts' 29-13 loss to the Chicago Bears.

Bio | Stats

"I consider my time playing football at the University of Illinois as a great privilege. There are so many guys who play at the college football level who dream of the chance to play at the NFL, and I feel that the University of Illinois was a big reason that I am blessed to have that opportunity. I will never forget my first and last games at Illinois. I had waited so long to play college football, and coming out of junior college, it seemed like it took forever to get to that first game. We were able to get the victory that day. Winning our last home game on Senior Day really meant a lot to me, and in a year where we expected bigger things, it was great to get a win in our last home game in Memorial Stadium.

"The fans at Illinois are extremely loyal. At times when I was there, we didn't give them a lot to cheer for, but they were always there at the games and always making sure you knew they were behind you. In addition the fans, I think the facilities at Illinois are top-notch. Most of the teams I visited in the NFL had very similar facilities to the ones at Illinois, and they are really at the top of the line.

"It's awesome to be a part of the Illinois football family, and I really believe the Illini fans have a lot to look forward to."   - Kelvin Hayden



Nathan Hodel
LS
Arizona Cardinals
Hodel saw action in the Arizona Cardinal' 23-13 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Bio | Stats

"Both of my parents went to Illinois and, as a kid, I would get Illinois football tickets as birthday presents. It was a dream for me to be a part of something that I grew up watching and being able to play for Illinois was special for me and my family.

"I have been able to make it back to the spring game tailgate a few times, and I have had the opportunity to talk to guys who got out after me and guys who helped develop the program 30 years ago. There is no doubt there is a common bond between everyone who wore the uniform, and it's something I am proud to be a part of."   - Nathan Hodel



Greg Lewis
WR
Philadelphia Eagles
Lewis caught five passes for 104 yards, as the Philadelphia Eagles demolished the St. Louis Rams, 38-3. Lewis averaged 20.8 yards with a career-high long of 52 yards.

Bio | Stats

"It was great to go to Illinois and it was an experience I won't ever forget. To start at the bottom and bring the program back to the top with the 2001 Big Ten Championship was a great experience.

"One of the things I was most proud of in my time at Illinois was helping to carry on that walk-on tradition. When I first got there, some other walk-ons there told me that the walk-ons at Illinois have a lot of pride in what they do and they aren't there to feel sorry and not play. A lot of the guys through the years at Illinois have done great things to help build the program, and I look forward to that tradition continuing in the future.

"The Illinois fans have been tremendous to me. When I was down there they were always giving us support. Whether we lost or won they were there to cheer us on and make sure that we felt good about what we were doing. Illini fans are everywhere and I run into them in different cities and they are always interested in how things are going."   - Greg Lewis



Brandon Lloyd
WR
Chicago Bears
Lloyd made his first start as a Chicago Bear on Sunday. He had two catches for 26 yards, with a long of 18, in the Bears 29-13 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Bio | Stats

"Playing football at the University of Illinois meant way more to me than just playing football. The standards and the foundation that were left by the players before me are the standards that I want to live up to as a football player. One of the great things about playing football at Illinois is that it prepared me for the next level. Everything we did at Illinois we did first class--from training camp in Rantoul, to traveling and playing in first-class facilities.

"Playing in Memorial Stadium on Saturdays is an once-in-a-lifetime experience. People always ask me where my favorite place to play college ball was, and I say Memorial Stadium--any day, all day! You'll never see so many people wearing their school colors and loving it. I will never forget winning the Big Ten Championship on Thanksgiving Day! After the game the field was covered with students and media and they rolled out a big stage. Our captains were up there with the coach and they all gave speeches to the crowd and I think we all felt like we had accomplished a tremendous feat."   - Brandon Lloyd



Rashard Mendenhall
RB
Pittsburgh Steelers
In his NFL debut, Mendenhall had 10 carries for 28 yards in the Steelers 38-17 win over the Houston Texans.

Bio | Stats




Brandon Moore
OL
New York Jets
Moore made his 63rd start in the New York Jets 20-14 win over the Miami Dolphins.

Bio | Stats




Tony Pashos
OL
Jacksonville Jaguars
Pashos made his 32nd consecutive start in the Jacksonville Jaguars' 17-10 opening day loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Bio | Stats




Duke Preston
OL
Buffalo Bills
Preston did not play in the Buffalo Bills 34-10 opening day win over the Seattle Seahawks.

Bio | Stats




Neil Rackers
K
Arizona Cardinals
Rackers hit both PAT attempts and was 3-4 on field goal attempts, with a long of 31 yards. The Arizona Cardinals went on to win 23-13 over the San Francisco 49ers on opening day.

Bio | Stats




Matt Sinclair
LB
Washington Redskins
LB--2nd year in
NFL (2008) - on injured reserve

Bio | Stats




Pierre Thomas
RB
New Orleans Saints
Thomas had 10 carries for 52 yards, with his longest run of 18 yards in the New Orleans Saints 24-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Thomas also caught two passes for 11 yards in the victory.

Bio | Stats



Fred Wakefield
Oakland Raiders
TE--8th year in
NFL (2008)

Bio | Stats




Steve Weatherford
P
New Orleans Saints
Weatherford averaged 44.3 yards on seven punts, with a long of 61, in the New Orleans Saints 24-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bio | Stats




Eugene Wilson
DB
Houston Texans
Wilson did not play in the Houston Texans 38-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bio | Stats




Russ Weil
FB
St. Louis Rams
Made the Ram's practice squad as a rookie.

Bio | Stats

Click on the player's name for his NFL bio; click on the thumbnail photo for his action photo.


(updated 9/8/08)

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