Betiku shines in Illini debut

Sports

CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Oluwole Betiku Jr. put up better numbers in one game with Illinois than his previous three years combined at Southern California. The grad transfer defensive end shined for the Illini (1-0) in Saturday’s season opening win against Akron, leading the D-Line with six tackles, three tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hurries. It was the first meaningful playing time for the 6-foot-3, 250 pound former 5-star recruit since 2017.

“Just showed that we could play ball and we get to play,” Betiku said about his game, along with the other five Illini grad transfers who played big roles for the Illini on Saturday. “I left the past behind me and I’m just focused on the future and focused on being the best Illini player I can be for my teammates, for the fans and for the coaches.”

“You know he talked about how excited he (Betiku) was going into the first game,” Illinois head coach Lovie Smith said. “Again, the bar was set for him but playing the run, playing the pass, it was a good start.”

Betiku and linebacker Milo Eifler (Washington) were the two transfers to impact the defense. Quarterback Brandon Peters (Michigan), receivers Josh Imatorbhebhe (USC) and Trevon Sidney (USC) and offensive lineman Richie Pettitbon (Alabama), all had major contributions for Illinois offense in the victory.

The Illini hit the road for the first time this season on Saturday, visiting Connecticut. Illinois is looking for its first non-conference road win since 2007.

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