(WCIA) — Illini linebacker Jake Hansen won’t be heading to the NFL Draft after all. In a unique situation, the NCAA granted Hansen eligibility to come back to Illinois for another season despite declaring for the draft in December.
In a video message posted to social media, Hansen says, “The 2020 football season wasn’t exactly how I imagine my time at Illinois to end. After extensive talks with Coach Bielema and the University of Illinois staff, I have decided that I have unfinished business in the Orange & Blue. I am excited to get back up to Champaign and get to work with my teammates and my new coaches. Go Illini!”
Hansen led the nation with 14 takeaways over the last two seasons, and will be one of the most accomplished linebackers to return to the Big Ten and college football. The 2019 Butkus Award semifinalist is tied for third in Illinois history with ten forced fumbles.
“I am excited for Jake to come back to the Fighting Illini family,” said head coach Bret Bielema in a statement. “During my conversations with Jake it was easy to see how passionate he is about the game of football, his teammates and the University of Illinois.”
The Illini will now have 21 returning seniors on the 2021 roster that are taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility that was granted to all players due to COVID-19. The Illini have more returning scholarship “super seniors” than any team in the nation.