Welcome to the Dog Days of summer, that lull in activity that happens every year on the University of Illinois sports calendar. My daytime job, working as a Senior Library Specialist at the Undergraduate Library on campus, allows me to see a lot of people on a daily basis, some of them being athletes. In fact, just yesterday, two incoming freshmen basketball players were seen in the library. Those players, Bill Cole and Mike Tisdale, were flanked by another smaller player, believed to be either Quinton Watkins or Demetri McCamey (I wasn't sure which). If you haven't had a chance to see these big men up close, they are quite tall. Tisdale comes in right around 7' tall, and seems to dwarf Cole, who by his own right is 6'8. So why am I talking about this, you say? No reason, other than that is is nice to see student athletes use the resources that the library has to offer. So many times, you hear of tutors helping the athletes along, and when asked where the library is on campus, you'll sometimes hear "we have a library?" Any more, though, incoming freshman athletes have orientation classes in the library, and need to show up for them to retain their eligibility. I remember a few years back, Dee Brown and Deron Williams frequenting the library often the summer before they began school, perched on the internet reading about what else, basketball. Illinois has been fortunate the last few years to have their athletes graduate on time, and compared to other schools, are pretty successful in that category. With the training schedules in the off-season and the travel itineraries during the respective sports seasons, student-athletes often do not get a lot of time to "hit the books". Therefore, it is refreshing to see these guys and girls make an appearance or two in the library.
Illini football fans will have to wait for the debut of Daries Hodge this fall at Memorial Stadium. Hodge, the talented back from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, did not get a favorable result on one of his test scores, and will be declared ineligible for the fall semester. Hodge still intends on suiting up for the Orange and Blue, so a January enrollment is more likely at this point. Regardless, Coach Ron Zook will be okay at the running back position with or without Hodge. The only detriment to this is the possibility of setting him back behind the others.
I was at lunch with a friend yesterday at an establishment on campus and happened to see Aurrelious Benn eating just a few tables over from where we were. Benn, the ultra-talented receiver from Washington, DC, is a specimen to behold. It will be fun to watch him pair up with Juice Williams this fall on the Memorial Stadium turf on those long plays from scrimmage.
Speaking of football, Camp Rantoul is just about a month away from getting started, and so far in the Ron Zook era, camp has been a fun event to attend. This year should be no exception, what with the likes of the aforementioned Benn, Martez Wilson, Josh Brent, as well as the other talented freshman class that Zook has assembled. So, will you be attending Camp Rantoul this fall? If you are, look for me somewhere on the sidelines. I'll be the one toting a notebook and quite possibly a tape recorder. This should be a fun football season to witness, and given the inexpensive season ticket packages for construction, a lot of people will be on hand to see it as well. Let's just hope that the players can give the fans what they want.....a winning season and a trip somewhere to a bowl game.