Football
Game 8: Illinois (1-6, 0-5) vs. Michigan (5-3, 1-3)

 
Senior OL Jon Asamoah and his Fighting Illini teammates will take on Michigan Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT in Memorial Stadium.
Senior OL Jon Asamoah and his Fighting Illini teammates will take on Michigan Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT in Memorial Stadium.
 

Oct. 27, 2009


Complete release in PDF format


FOR OPENERS

  • This Saturday's game against Michigan marks the 91st meeting between the two teams.
  • Sophomore running back Mikel LeShoure rushed for a career-high 122 yards on 15 carries last week against Purdue (8.1 yards per carry), including a career-long 65-yard run in the first quarter.
  • Illinois running backs are averaging 6.3 yards per carry through seven games, including an outstanding success rate of 7.9 yards per rush by sophomore Jason Ford. The quintet of Ford, Leshoure (6.5), Troy Pollard (6.4), Justin Green (6.7) and Daniel Dufrene (4.9) have rushed for 841 yards on 134 carries. Additionally, only 19 total yards have been lost by Illini running backs this season, as they have gained positive yardage on 91.0 percent of their runs (122 of 134 carries).
  • Junior receiver Arrelious Benn moved into sole possession of sixth place on both the Illinois career receptions and receiving yards lists last week at Purdue. He now has 146 catches for 2,018 career yards in two-plus season at Illinois.
  • Benn has 3,333 career all-purpose yards which ranks sixth in school history just 47 yards behind Chubby Philllips' fifth place total of 3,380.
  • Quarterback Juice Williams had 115 total yards against Purdue last week to move up one spot to sixth on the all-time Big Ten total offense list with 9,695 yards, jumping past Purdue's Kyle Orton (9,653 total yards). Williams needs 559 total yards to catch Iowa's Chuck Long for fifth (10,254 yards).
  • With his start last week at Purdue, Williams became Illinois' all-time leader in starts by a quarterback with 40. The old record of 39 was held by Kurt Kittner.
  • Illinois rushed for 384 yards against Illinois State, the 12th-highest single game total in the NCAA through the first eight weeks of the season. It was also Illinois' first 300-yard rushing performance since racking up 399 yards on the ground vs. Eastern Illinois on Sept. 6, 2008.
  • Six true freshman have played for the Illini this year - Walter Aikens, Michael Buchanan, Justin Green, Terry Hawthorne, Hugh Thornton and Joelil Thrash. In addition, two transfers, Jarred Fayson and Aaron Gress, and 10 redshirt-freshmen, Jacob Charest, London Davis, Graham Pocic, Glenn Foster, Evan Frierson, Whitney Mercilus, Nate Palmer, Jack Ramsey, Tyler Sands and Ashante Williams have made their Fighting Illini debuts this season.
  • On Sunday, Oct 25 ABC's Extreme Home Makover aired the makeover of the Montgomery family of Philo, Ill. Nathan Montgomery was a promising young engineer on his way to a six-figure management position when he first began volunteering to help the needy. Realizing he wanted to pursue charity work full time, he stepped off the fast track to launch Salt and Light, the philanthropic organization he leads as executive director. The altruism of Nathan and his wife, Jenny, a middle school aide who works with special-needs children, took a heavy toll on the family living conditions. With only modest salaries, Nathan and Jenny were unable to afford much-needed repairs to the family's dilapidated 100-year-old home. Nathan, Jenny and the kids - sons Ashton, 13, and Benjamin, 9, and daughters Addison, 5 and Lillian, 4 will be at midfield on Saturday during the pregame coin toss as invited guests of the Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics.
  • This weekend Illinois will be celebrating Varsity I weekend. Through the Varsity I Association, the University and its letterwinners maintain contact and promote improvements in Fighting Illini athletics. As part of this year's festivities, former basketball player Rick Schmidt will receive the Achievement Award for his outstanding postgraduate accomplishments, while Gail Fischer, Mark Goldenberg, Joe Gutman, Jim Turner and Denny Smith will become honorary Varsity I members.


MICHIGAN SERIES NOTES

  • Michigan leads the series by a 66-22-2 advantage overall and holds a 31-11-1 edge in Champaign.
  • Illinois defeated the Wolverines 45-20 in Ann Arbor last year in the most recent meeting. The Illini victory snapped a six-game UM winning streak. The last meeting in Champaign was a 27-17 Michigan win in 2007.
  • Illini head coach Ron Zook is 1-2 in his career against Michigan, going 1-1 against the Wolverines at Illinois and with the other loss coming at Florida in the 2003 Outback Bowl. Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez dropped his only meeting against Illinois as a head coach in last year's meeting.
  • Illinois co-defensive coordinator Curt Mallory is a 1992 graduate of the University of Michigan and a two-year letterwinner from 1989-90. He was a part of five Big Ten Championship teams.


HIGHLIGHTS AGAINST THE WOLVERINES

  • Illinois posted its first win over Michigan since 1999 with the 45-20 victory last season, piling up 501 total yards in the process. The Illini's 45 points are the most put up against the Wolverines in school history and also are the most points against Michigan in the "Big House" by any team since 1991 when Florida State scored 51. It was the most points scored by a Big Ten opponent at Michigan Stadium since Ohio State won 50-20 in 1961.
  • Juice Williams passed for over 300 yards and rushed for over 100 last year at the Big House, marking the first time for the accomplishment in school history. Juice's total offense of 431 yards set Michigan Stadium record (former records was 403 by Illinois' Tony Eason in 1981) and tied with Northwestern's Sandy Schwab (1982) for most yards ever against the Wolverines.
  • Williams connected with Jeff Cumberland for a 77-yard touchdown pass in last year's win. It was the longest Illinois reception since 1985, when Cap Boso caught an 83-yarder from Jack Trudeau.
  • Arrelious Benn had six catches for 122 yards in last year's game.
  • Donsay Hardeman posted eight tackles last year at Michigan, which was then a career high.
  • Josh Brent recovered a Michigan fumble in the third quarter of last year's victory, the first of his career.
  • Daniel Dufrene caught a 57-yard touchdown pass from Williams at Michigan Stadium last year.
  • In the 2007 game against Michigan at Memorial Stadium, Dufrene scored his first career touchdown with an eight-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.


BENN THERE

  • Junior receiver Arrelious Benn moved into sole possession of sixth place on both the Illinois career receptions and receiving yards lists last week at Purdue. He now has 146 catches for 2,018 career yards in two-plus season at Illinois. Benn needs two catches to move past Walter Young and into the top-five on the career receptions list and he needs 23 to catch Jason Dulick for second on the list.
  • Benn has 3,333 career all-purpose yards, which ranks sixth in school history, just 47 yards behind Chubby Philllips' fifth-place total of 3,380.
  • Benn ranks seventh on the Illinois career kickoff return yardage list with 932 yards in his career. Next on this list is Darryl Usher with 950 career kickoff return yards.
  • Benn has made 30 career starts at Illinois, which is tied for the third-most among Illini receivers, along with Brandon Lloyd and Eric Rouse. With starts in the remaining five games, Benn will tie two-time All-American David Williams in second place with 35 starts.
  • With five catches for 96 yards against Penn State on Oct. 3, Benn continued his stallar play against the Nittany Lions. In three games against PSU, Benn has 15 catches for 290 yards and three touchdowns, plus three kickoff returns for 147 yards and one touchdown.
  • Benn has caught a pass in 31 of his 32 career games. He had a streak of 25 consecutive games with a catch broken earlier this season, which at the time ranked seventh in the nation.
  • Last season, Benn broke the 1,000-yard mark receiving on 67 catches to lead the team and earn first-team All-Big Ten honors. It was the first 1,000-yard season for an Illini receiver since 2002. Benn recorded five 100-yard receiving games and averaging 15.7 yards per catch in 2008.


JUICE PUTS SQUEEZE ON ILLINI RECORD BOOK

  • Illinois senior quarterback Juice Williams has a chance to leave the Illini program as the most productive signal caller in school history. He ...
    • Already holds the Illinois total offense records for a career (9,695) and season (3,892)
    • Ranks sixth in total offense in Big Ten history
    • Already holds the Illinois QB rushing records for a career (2,327), season (755) and game (174)
    • Ranks fourth in school history in passing yardage (7,368) and needs just 165 to move up to third
    • Is the Illinois career leader in starts by a quarterback with 40
    • Needs 218 rushing yards to move up to sixth on the Illinois career rushing list
    • Needs eight touchdown passes to move to second on the UI list for career scoring strikes
  • Williams broke the Illinois career total offense record earlier this season against Penn State. He now has 9,695 total yards in his career, passing Kurt Kittner's previous record of 8,880.
  • With 115 total yards last week against Purdue, Williams moved up one spot to sixth on the all-time Big Ten total offense list, jumping past Purdue's Kyle Orton (9,653 total yards). With 9,695 total yards, Williams enters this Saturday's game against Michigan 559 yards behind Iowa's Chuck Long for fifth place on the list.
  • Williams currently ranks ninth on the Illinois all-time rushing list with 2,327 career yards. He needs 156 yards to catch Howard Griffith's eighth place total of 2,485 yards on the ground.
  • Williams ranks second on the all-time Big Ten quarterback rushing list with his 2,327 career yards. Second is where Williams' will stay, however, as Antwaan Randle El's has the conference record of 3,895 rushing yards.
  • Williams' 277 rushing yards this year ranks seventh on the UI single season quarterback rushing list. He already holds the top three spots, including the school record of 755 yards in 2007.
  • With 14 carries against Purdue, Williams moved up to third on the Illinois all-time rushing attempts list with 584, passing Jim Grabowski's 579 carries.
  • Last season, Juice Williams led the conference in both passing and total offense. His 324.3 total yard average was 82.3 yards better per game than the next league player.


HEALING ILLINI

  • Junior receiver Jarred Fayson (knee) and senior safety Donsay Hardeman (neck) both missed Saturday's game at Purdue but could return this week against Michigan. It is the second-straight game missed for Fayson, while Hardeman was injured early in the Indiana game on Oct. 17. In addition, senior tight end Michael Hoomanawanui missed part of the second half against the Boilers after aggravating an ankle injury from earlier in the season.
  • Earlier in the season, starters Arrelious Benn, Juice Williams, Michael Hoomanawanui and Garrett Edwards all missed significant time because of injuries. Benn missed most of the season-opener against Missouri with an ankle injury and then missed part of the Michigan State game with a concussion. Williams missed nearly the entire Illinois State game after straning a quad on the first play of the game. Hoomanawanui injured an ankle early in the Penn State game and did not return and them sat out all of the Michigan State game before returning against Indiana. Edwards missed the Indiana game with a neck injury before return last week at Purdue.
  • Junior linebacker Martez Wilson will miss the remainder of the 2009 season with a herniated disc neck injury. Wilson played in the season opener against Missouri, but sat out against Illinois State and Ohio State before having surgery to repair the injury on Sept. 28. He will spend the rest of the season recovering and helping to lead the Illini from the sidelines.
  • Sophomore cornerback Miami Thomas suffered a season-ending knee injury in preseason training camp.


JUICE JOINES ELITE ILLINI QBs

Juice Williams has led the Illini to 16 wins in his three-plus years as the starter under center at Illinois, which is the fourth in school history. Kurt Kittner (1998-2001) holds the record with 24 wins, one ahead of Jack Trudeau's (1983-85) 23 victories.

  1. Kurt Kittner, 1998-2001 24
  2. Jack Trudeau, 1983-85 23
  3. Jason Verduzco, 1990-92 19
  4. Jeff George, 1988-89 16
    Juice Williams, 2006-09 16
  5. Tony Eason, 1981-82 14


TOUGH SCHEDULE

  • Illinois' 2009 schedule was rated the toughest in the Big Ten and the 10th-toughest in the nation by The Sporting News entering the season and that has proven to be true thus far. Three of Illinois' opponents are ranked in the top-15 of this week's USA Today coaches poll.
  • Currently, the Sagarin ratings rank Illinois' schedule the 35th-toughest nationally and after eight weeks, Illinois' opponents' record is 57-36. One team remains undefeated through seven weeks as Cincinnati is 7-0.
  • The 2009 Illinois football schedule includes eight teams that played in bowl games a year ago -- Missouri, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Fresno State and Cincinnati -- including three that played in BCS games.
  • After opening against 2008 Big 12 North champion Missouri, the Illini faced Illinois State on Sept. 12 before starting the Big Ten season at No. 13/11 Ohio State and then hosting No. 15/13 Penn State and Michigan State, the top three teams in the preseason Big Ten Coaches poll, in consecutive weeks. Illinois then faces Michigan on Halloween and closes the regular season with a pair of tough non-conference games at 2008 Big East champion and No. 5/7 Cincinnati on Nov. 27 and home against 2008 New Mexico Bowl participant Fresno State on Dec. 5.


BIG TEN RETURNING LEADING RUSHERS

The Big Ten's career rushing leader entering the season was not a running back, it was Illini quarterback Juice Williams. Penn State running back Evan Royster is the conference's current career rushing leader, but Williams remains second with 2,327 yards rushing in his three-plus seasons as a quarterback, well ahead of third-place John Clay's total of 1,600 yards. Illini running back Daniel Dufrene ranks fifth with 1,168.

  1. Evan Royster, RB, Jr., Penn State -- 2,490
  2. Juice Williams, QB, Sr., Illinois -- 2,327
  3. John Clay, RB, So., Wisconsin -- 1,600
  4. Brandon Minor, RB, Sr., Michigan -- 1,478
  5. Daniel Dufrene, RB, Sr., Illinois -- 1,168
  6. Terrelle Pryor, So., Ohio State -- 1,102
  7. Demetrius McCray, Sr., Indiana -- 949
  8. Carlos Brown, Sr., Michigan -- 916
  9. Duane Bennett, So., Minnesota -- 888
  10. Stephfon Green, So., Penn State -- 826
  11. Adam Weber, Sr., Minnesota -- 813
  12. Mike Kafka, Sr., Northwestern -- 798
  13. Ralph Bolden, So., Purdue -- 748


THE ILLINI OFFENSE

  • Sophomore running back Mikel LeShoure has rushed for 200 yards on 27 carries (7.4 yards per carry) in the past two games, as he went for a then career-high 78 yards against Indiana before before topping that with 122 yards at Purdue last week. Leshoure is Illinois' touchdown scoring leader this season with three scores (18 points).
  • Illinois running backs are averaging 6.3 yards per carry through seven games, including an outstanding success rate of 7.9 yards per rush by sophomore Jason Ford. The quintet of Ford, Leshoure (6.5), Troy Pollard (6.4), Justin Green (6.7) and Daniel Dufrene (4.9) have rushed for 841 yards on 134 carries. Additionally, only 19 total yards have been lost by Illini running backs this season, as they have gained positive yardage on 91.0 percent of their runs (122 of 134 carries).
  • Illinois has been trying new combinations as of late to help jump start the offense. On the offensive line, true-freshman Hugh Thornton saw his first action with a start at right tackle at Indiana and then redshirt freshman Tyler Sands made his first career start at left guard last week at Purdue. In addition, redshirt freshman Jack Ramsey made his first start at wide receiver at Purdue and responded with three catches for 44 yards. Redshirt-freshman quarterback Jacob Charest also saw his first action against the Boilers, completing 4-of-8 passes for 52 yards.
  • With 61 rushing yards against Illinois State, senior running back Daniel Dufrene went over 1,000 yards for his career. He is the 35th player in Illinois history to reach the 1,000-yard milestone and currently sits at 1,168 yards, which ranks 29th on the UI career rushing list.
  • The Illinois offense rolled up 548 total yards against Illinois State on Sept. 12, including 384 on the ground, the 12th-highest single-game total in the nation this season, on 46 carries (8.3 ypc).
  • Sophomore Jason Ford rushed for 137 yards against ISU, posting the second 100-yard game of his career. He also scored his ninth career touchdown with a one-yard run in the first quarter. Ford had a 68-yard run in the fourth quarter, which is the Illini's longest play of the season. For his performance, Ford was named an honorable mention College Football Performer of the Week by CFPA.
  • In the previous three seasons, the Illinois offense has led the Big Ten in rushing twice (2006, 2007) and in passing in 2008.
  • The Illinois offense returned 100 percent of its 2,034 rushing yards from the 2008 season and 87 percent of its 3,232 receiving yards, as well as three starters from the offensive line. The only skill player lost offensively was receiver Will Judson, who accounted for 401 receiving yards.


DEFENSIVE NOTES

  • Linebacker Ian Thomas leads the team and ranks 11th in the Big Ten with 7.6 tackles per game. He had a career-high eight solo tackles last week at Purdue and had 10 tackles total to lead the Illini.
  • Cornerback Ashante Williams made his first career start last week at Purdue and linebacker Nate Bussey made his first start at the position after starting one game last year at safety.
  • Safety Walter Aikens made his first career start at Indiana on Oct. 17. Aikens tied for the team lead with seven tackles against the Hoosiers.
  • Illinois' defense held Michigan State scoreless in the second half in the Oct. 10 meeting, as MSU's only points came via an interception return on the first series of the half. The Illini defense also held MSU to just three first downs and 91 total yards in the second half.
  • Cornerback Tavon Wilson set a career high in tackles with 13 stops against Michigan State and also recorded his first career interception with a pick in the third quarter.
  • The Illini defense recorded seven passes broken up against the Spartans, marking the best pass defense effort since the 11 PBUs against Wisconsin in 2007.
  • The Illinois defense held 15th-ranked Penn State to seven first-half points on Oct. 3, marking a season low for points in the first half by PSU.
  • Illinois held Ohio State to 82 passing yards in the Sept. 26 matchup, marking the first time since last year's game against the Buckeyes (49 yards) that an opposing team has been held under 100 yards passing. OSU had 0 passing yards in first half.
  • The Illinois defense forced three turnovers against Illinois State, including two interceptions. In the second quarter, defensive tackle Corey Liuget batted a pass up in the air and defensive end Doug Pilcher snared it and returned it 41 yards to set up a TD. Then in the fourth quarter, linebacker Russell Ellington picked off a pass and returned it 78 yards to end an ISU scoring threat.
  • Ellington's return marked the longest non-scoring interception return in school history. He also notched a career-high eight tackles and two passes broken up.
  • The Illini defense held Illinois State to just 44 yards rushing, the first opponent to rush for less than 50 yards against the Illini since Penn State had 40 yards on Oct. 21, 2006.
  • The Illini defense also pitched a first-half shutout against the Redbirds, marking the first scoreless half by a UI opponent since Syracuse (first half) on Sept. 15, 2007.
  • In each of the past three years, Illinois linebackers have led the Big Ten Conference in tackles per game -- J Leman in 2006 and 2007, and Brit Miller in 2008.
  • In 2008, the Illini defense led the Big Ten in both tackles for loss and quarterback sacks.


Punter Anthony Santella is averaging a career-best 41.1 yards per kick this season.


THE SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Illinois ranks 17th in the nation in net punting at 38.18 yards.
  • Against Purdue last week, punter Anthony Santella had five punts for 224 yards, an average of 44.8, with three punts over 50 yards and four downed inside the 20. He also netted an impressive 42.6 yards per punt.
  • For the season, Santella is averaging a career-best 41.1 yards per kick this year and already has a career high with nine punts of 50+ yards (previous high was seven). He also is on pace for career highs in fair catches (has 11, career high is 13) and punts inside the 20 (has 11, career high is 17).
  • Sophomore kicker Derek Dimke scored the first point of his career with and extra point in the third quarter at Purdue last week. The week before at Indiana, Dimke recovered the first fumble of his career after Nate Bussey forced the ball loose on an Indiana kickoff return.
  • Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten in kickoff coverage as the average starting position for opposing teams after a kickoff is the 26.9 yard line.
  • Arrelious Benn ranks seventh on the Illinois career kickoff return yardage list with 932 yards in his career. Next on this list is Darryl Usher with 950 career kickoff return yards.
  • Sophomore Matt Eller kicked the 18th field goal of his career with his 22-yarder against Penn State in the second quarter. That gave him sole possesion of 10th on the Illinois all-time field goals list.
  • Illinois has had several different players line-up deep for kickoff returns this season, including receivers Arrelious Benn and A.J. Jenkins, running backs Troy Pollard and Justin Green and defensive back Terry Hawthorne. On punt returns, both receivers Jarred Fayson and Jack Ramsey have lined-up as return men. Last year, Benn and Jenkins were Illinois' return men for kickoffs and punts. Jenkins averaged 22.3 yards per kickoff return and Benn averaged 7.6 per punt return.


TEAM NOTES

  • The Oct. 10 game against Michigan State at Memorial Stadium was sold out, as was the Oct. 3 game against Penn State. With those two sellouts, Illinois has now had 10 sellouts in the last three seasons and tickets for the final three homes games of the season - Oct. 31 vs. Michigan, Nov. 14 vs. Northwestern and Dec. 5 vs. Fresno State are in short supply.
  • Student season tickets have sold out for the Illinois football season this year. It marks the second straight season that all 10,000 student tickets have sold out.
  • The win over Illinois State on Sept. 12 was Illinois' 12th straight home-opening win. Illinois is now 82-33-5 all-time in home openers.
  • The victory over Illinois State improved Illinois to 11-0 all-time against the other public universities in the state. The Illini are 3-0 against ISU and Northern Illinois, 2-0 against Eastern Illinois and Southern Illinois and 1-0 against Western Illinois. All but one of those 11 meetings have come since 1985 (Illinois played ISU in 1944).
  • Attendance for the Sept. 12 home-opener was 62,347, the best home-opening crowd since 1995 vs. Michigan. In addition, Illinois' home games against Penn State (Oct. 3) and Michigan State (Oct. 10) were sellouts.


ILLINOIS VS. RANKED OPPONENTS

  • Illinois has faced two top-15 opponents this season and future opponent Cincinnati is ranked No. 5 in this week's AP poll. The Illini have already faced No. 13/11 Ohio State and No. 15/13 Penn State.
  • The Illini are 3-8 vs. top-25 opponents over the past three seasons, including a win over No. 19 Penn State in 2007. Illinois is 2-3 against top-10 foes during that span with wins over No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 1 Ohio State and a loss to No. 7 USC in 2007, and losses to No. 6 Missouri and No. 10 Ohio State in 2008. In the Ron Zook era, the Illini are 3-15 against ranked teams.
  • In his eight-plus years as a head coach, Ron Zook has posted nine wins over ranked opponents.


BLOCK, PILCHER, WILLIAMS RETURN FOR 5TH YEAR

Of Illinois' 15 seniors, only three are back for their fifth seasons. Center Eric Block has 17 starts under his belt. The New Orleans native went through senior day last season, but petitioned the NCAA to have his fifth year restored due to limited playing time and injuries in his first season. Defensive end Doug Pilcher has been a full-time starter for the Illini since 2006 after reshirting his first season at Illinois. Defensive tackle Sirod Williams was set for his senior year in 2008, but suffered a knee injury that forced him to redshirt.


KING OF THE HOUSE

  • Last season, Juice Williams accomplished a feat unprecedented in history. In three games during 2008 (Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota), he set stadium records in total offense.
  • Williams passed for 451 yards and rushed for 10 against Missouri on Aug. 30 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo., eclipsing the 456 yards posted by Rams quarterback Marc Bulger against the New York Jets in 2004. Others that Williams surpassed include Kansas State's Michael Bishop, who had 442 total yards in the 1998 Big 12 championship game, and Tommy Corwin, who had 453 for DeSmet in a high school state title game in 2005. Williams managed to surpass Bulger's best day despite being sacked five times by Missouri for a loss of 42 yards. In college, sacks count against a quarterback's rushing yards but in the NFL they don't.
  • Williams compiled 431 yards of total offense at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 4 to set the stadium record. One week later on Oct. 11 against Minnesota, Williams threw for 462 yards and rushed for another 41, making his 503 total yards an Illinois Memorial Stadium record.
  • Based on research collected by Division I SIDs, there are no other current players who own stadium records in more than one venue, much less three.


TRIO OF COACHES LEARNING THE LINGO

Illinois welcomes three new faces to the coaching staff fo the 2009 season. Replacing Mike Locksley at offensive coordinator is former TCU offensive general Mike Schultz, while Joe Gilbert joins the staff to coach the offensive line. The sole change on the defensive side of the ball has former Cincinnati coach Keith Gilbert taking over the defensive line.


HOOMANAWANUI HONORING HIS POLYNESIAN DESCENT

  • Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, while growing up in Bloomington, Ill., lived much of the Hawaiian heritage passed down by his father, Isy. Isy came to the States to play football at Illinois State then stayed to raise his family.
  • When Michael came to Illinois, he began many of the traditions carried on by Polynesian and Samoan football players. He entered his freshman year with clean-cut short hair, but then began to grow it out to the long black mane that can be seen out the backs of football helmets. This tradition dates back to Samoan warriors to signify battle. It also is very noticeable to the public in the stands and draws attention to their heritage.
  • Hoomanamwanui also got two tattoos, called Aumakua, which means "protectors." His family's protectors are the shark and the turtle, two images that have been passed down for centuries and are now tattoos on Michael's arms and shoulders.
  • Michael also can be seen on campus wearing what looks to be a brightly adorned skirt. However, it is called a kikepa and is traditional dress for men in Hawaii.


ILLINOIS ATHLETICS HAS BANNER YEAR

  • With Illinois' fall sports beginning their seasons, the women's cross country is expected to post its fifth straight Top-10 NCAA finish, the soccer team is ranked 11th (as of 9/1) and volleyball is 8th (as of 8/31).
  • In the 2008-09 Learfield/NACDA Director's Cup rankings, Illinois finished 20th, the highest ranking in school history. Of the 21 sports Illinois sponsors, 15 advanced to postseason NCAA play and wrestling, men's gymnastics and women's cross country finished in the top-10.
    • Men's Gymnastics - 5th
    • Wrestling - 8th
    • Women's Cross Country - 10th
    • Women's Gymnastics - 12th
    • Women's Outdoor Track & Field - 12th
    • Men's Tennis - NCAA Sweet 16
    • Soccer - NCAA Sweet 16
    • Volleyball - NCAA Sweet 16
    • Men's Golf - 21st
    • Women's Indoor Track & Field - 27th
    • Women's Tennis - NCAA Second Round
    • Men's Oudoor Track & Field - 37th
    • Men's Basketball - NCAA First Round
    • Men's Indoor Track & Field - 47th
    • Softball - NCAA First Round


TEAM CAPTAINS


PLAYERS OF THE GAME

GAME OFFENSE DEFENSE SPECIAL TEAMS
ILLINOIS STATE Jason Ford, RB Doug Pilcher, DL Aaron Gress, LB
HEADLINES