CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois football is heading north across state lines to open its season at No. 14 Wisconsin Friday night but when the Illini offensive line trots out for its first series, they’ll represent plenty of Land of Lincoln pride. The five starters in the group are all from Illinois and are one of the most experienced groups in the country. Vederian Lowe (Rockford), Kendrick Green (Peoria), Alex Palczewski (Mount Prospect) and Doug Kramer (Hinsdale) have a combined 125 starts. Verdis Brown (Chicago) is the fifth guy in the group. He’ll make his first career start against the Badgers, after beating out Jordyn Slaughter (Belleville) in a training camp battle to play right guard.
“I think it’s special just to come from the home state and playing for that home school,” Kramer said. “I think there’s an added level of pride and you want to represent your state well.”
“Everyone of the guys are products of great high school football that we have in our state,” Illinois head coach Lovie Smith said. “Some great coaches and it means an awful lot when those great coaches send their players to the flagship university of our state.”
Illinois has the highest rated returning offensive line in the Big Ten according to Pro Football Focus. The Illini’s returners grade 81.6, ahead of second place Ohio State (80.1) and third place Iowa (79.8). Kickoff between the Illini and Badgers is set for 7 p.m. on Friday at Camp Randall Stadium, watch on Big Ten Network.