New and old talent boosts offensive line

Sports

CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Doug Kramer earned his his seventh presaeon honor of 2021, the offensive lineman was named to to the Rotary Lombardi Trophy Watch List on Friday. It’s given annually to the nation’s most well-rounded lineman that excels on the field, but displays character and discipline.

The preseason All-American honorable mention and All-Big Ten lineman is returning for an extra season at Illinois, joining three other super-seniors on the offensive line. The offensive line ties for the most super-seniors in a position group. Illini offensive line coach Bart Miller knows how much potential his veterans bring, especially Kramer, who he recruited out of high school.

“Doug is an incredible young man,” says Miller. “And the character he has, I knew him as a high school senior, I recruited him at Florida Atlantic, so I knew him when he wasn’t a mature sixth-year senior, so just to see full circle how much he’s grown and where he’s come from, and as a player how he’s developed. I think his leadership is incredible, and he takes a lot of pride in what he does.”

Along with Kramer, Vederian Lowe and Alex Palczweski are returning starters to the offensive line, but they’re also adding some experience through transfers. Grad transfer and Wofford All-American Blake Jersesaty is set to play his first snap with the Illini, after being with the program for a year. He sat out during the 2020-21 season due to a shoulder injury, but went through spring ball under new head coach Bret Bielema this season.

“We’re just hungry, we know we have to compete that much harder,” says Jeresaty. “Setting the three technique in the Big Ten’s going to be a little different than helping as a center, but it’s a great challenge, and Coach Miller, and Coach [Bielema], and Coach [Tony Petersen], they’re all preparing me for those challenges, and I’m ready to go.”

Jack Badovinac is also transferred to the program this season. The Illinois native was an All-Conference selection at Colgate, ending his career there with 33 starts on the o-line.

The Illini are now five days through training camp, and they’re wrap up their first week with a full padded practice on Saturday.

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