Illini strap on full pads for first time, fight breaks out

Illini

URBANA (WCIA) — The pads are on and the intensity is going up at Illinois football practice. A skirmish broke out between Ricky Smalling and Nolan Bernat during Wednesday’s first workout in full pads. It’s nothing new, fighting and football, it’s all part of training camp but head coach Lovie Smith wasn’t having it. The third year Illini coach immediately lined up the entire team to run sprints after all parties were separated.

“All that was was a way to force the rest of your teammates to run and get tired in the middle of practice,” head coach Lovie Smith said. “We need to use that all energy out there between the whistles more than anything.”

The players are happy to be going full bore after the first four days in shells.

“You always go a little bit harder because shoulder pads and helmets, you just stay up top,” Illinois sophomore cornerback Nate Hobbs said. “When you’ve got full pads on, you can get a little bit more aggressive. The defense, we like that. We like to play aggressive.”

“Things don’t change obviously on the field for us much,” Illinois sophomore running back Mike Epstein said. “But just being in full pads with those thigh pads and knee pads on you, your body. It feel good to be back in regular action.”

The Illini are back on the field Thursday morning from 9-11 a.m. at the Campus Rec Fields, it’s free and open to the public.

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