2001 Big Ten Champions return to Champaign

Sports

CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The 2001 Big Ten Championship football team was welcomed back to memorial stadium on Saturday to celebrate their 20-year reunion. The team was honored with a ceremony at halftime of the Illinois vs. Nebraska game, along with a team event on Friday night. Led by head coach Ron Turner, quarterback Kurt Kittner, and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, they said being back in Champaign brought back several memories.

“Special time, special year, with special people, and so it was some great memories,” says Turner. “Just coming out here, looking at the crowd and everything was great”

“Memories that come back are the packed stadiums, the crowd, the excitement around the fan base, I think that’s probably the biggest reminder,” said Lloyd.

“There’s a lot of memories in between, when you’re a freshman to the time you leave as a senior, that are just really special moments in my life that I’ll never forget,” says Kittner. “It’s good to see all my old teammates, 20 years in the making, and it’s like we never left for the most part, we’re just different shapes and sizes.”

The 2001-02 season was led by one of the best passing teams the program has ever seen. Kittner threw more than 3,000 yards, along with 27 touchdowns. Lloyd caught 10 of those touchdown passes — and had six games with 100 plus receiving yards.

Since Illinois’ Big Ten Championship in 2001, the program has only seen three winning seasons, with their last in 2011.

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