Hot Day, Long Drills for Gridders
Illinois football squad dons pads tomorrow - 8/17/98
The Fighting Illini worked out in shells this morning and shorts in the afternoon in sweltering heat with temperatures in the 90's and a crisp breeze from the west. The Illini split the day on fields one and two, working in individual drills, quarterback and receivers working on timing and pass routes, offensive and defensive lineman squaring off and linebacker play. The fan favorite continues to be the intense battles in 7-on-7 drills between the wide receivers and defensive backs as Illinois attempts to improve in the speed and efficiency categories in each position. The defense racked up several interceptions today, including an excellent goal-line pick by sophomore safety Bobby Jackson. On offense, running backs Steve Havard and Jameel Cook continue to shine in the backfield with quarterbacks Mark Hoekstra, Jeff Ziegler, Kurt Kittner and Walter Young all looking sharp. The team also spent time in meetings in the morning, afternoon and evening. A special guest at morning practice was former linebacker David James, now working as an intern at KMOX in St. Louis.
MONDAY NIGHT NITRO A HIT AT TRAINING TABLE:
As the Illini squad enjoyed its evening meal, the television blared in the corner with the sounds of Hulk "Hollywood" Hogan and TNT's Monday Night Nitro World Championship Wrestling, a hit with the players. The offensive linemen remained in the dining hall the longest, enjoying Hogan's latest bold prediction of victory. The other big hit at training table...sweet tea, a staple among the media covering Rantoul '98.
UP, UP AND AWAY:
Official UI photographer Mark Jones spent the entire day at Rantoul '98, photographing the entire training site, including practice set-up, locker room, training room, Fanmarker rooming accomodations, dining hall, meeting rooms at Grissom Hall, signage around the former Chanute Air Force Base and a 30-minute helicopter ride providing aerial photography of the Illinois training site for use in future publications.
Junior defensive end Rameel Connor missed practice for the third straight day with a strained left hamstring (day-to-day).
Popular WDWS sports director Dave Loane broadcast the nightly "Sportstalk" program live from Rantoul '98, featuring Coach Ron Turner, Assistant Coach Craig Ver Steeg, safety Bobby Jackson, linebacker Danny Clark, wide receiver Connie Moore and guard Ray Redziniak. "Sportstalk" will also air from Rantoul '98 Tuesday and Wednesday night and Loane will produce the daily three-minute "Illini Today" series featuring Illinois football. The "Illini Today" is distributed daily to the 54-station Illini Sports Network. WDWS general manager Stevie Jay features a football player live from Rantoul each morning at 7:10 a.m. and will host his morning talk show live from Rantoul '98 Friday morning.