CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Illini kicked off their second-bout of training camp on Monday, and it’s beginning to look at a lot more like football. The Illini will be able to suit up in pads on Wednesday for the first time since the 2019 regular season. The first training camp for the team was shut down after five days.
“Camp in those first four days was looking really good, guys bringing energy to practice everyday, and we were all excited to start playing against the offense because there was a time where we really couldn’t compete against each other,” says Illini defensive back Sydney Brown. “Now I feel like we can advance past where we were back there in August, I’m really just looking forward to putting on the pads, and getting ready for the season.”
The Illini were still able to practice after the Big Ten postponed fall sports to the Spring in early August. However, with the league bringing back football earlier this month, the Illini recently went shifted from a 12-hour week to a 20-hour week. Head Coach Lovie Smith says this long stretch has given the team extra time to evaluate the freshman, and work on the fundamentals.
“We’ve had so many practices, we’ve gotten a lot of reps to say the least, and a lot of good teaching reps,” says Smith. “So we have gotten a lot done, but physically we’re still in pretty good shape, and that’s what I’m excited about. We have guys that have played a lot of football, so you expect to not be where we were two three years ago, and we’re not.”