Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Illini Season Preview - Part 1
It's now August, and the question that begs a response is this: Are you ready for some football? As campuses across this land of ours welcome its students back, the gridiron heats up as college football teams take to the field for their training camps. These days, athletes pretty much train all year long, but this is where the men seperate themselves from the boys, both on and off the field. Coach Ron Zook met the media for the first time in 2007 on Sunday afternoon, and the excitement level is hitting a fever pitch, now that the players have all congregated on campus and have settled into their home for the next 2 weeks; Rantoul, Illinois and the former Chanute Air Force Base. Rantoul, normally a quaint town, becomes vibrant in Orange and Blue around this time every year, and as far as the facilities go, Zook couldn't be happier. He thinks this is one of the best facilities he has seen to conduct camp, and that is saying a lot from a man who has been with several college programs, not to mention a few NFL teams as well. The players that I talked to on Sunday seem really excited to get the season off and running. Linebacker Kevin Mitchell, who is beginning his final go-around as an Illini, says that this has been building for a few years now, and this year is the time to take it to the next lever. Fellow linebacker J Leman agrees, and Leman is never at a loss for words. Running back Rashard Mendenhall says that the addition of wide receiver Aurrelious Benn will open up a lot more options for the offense. More on that topic later. The blend of seasoned veterans, as well as some of the first and second year guys, may indeed be the remedy that this team needs to scale the hill and shoot for a bowl in 2007, the team's ultimate goal. Over the next few days, I will be blogging the site previewing both sides of the ball. I will be stationed at Camp Rantoul on Thursday, and will give you my perspective on what I see, as well as point out players that are standing out on the practice field. So what does everyone expect from the Illini this year? Is this the year that we go bowling? Or, are we still a year away? Please let me know what you think, and once training camp has finished, I, too will be giving a prediction of how the Illini will do this season. My next blog will be from Camp Rantoul on Thursday.