CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Running out of the tunnel in the spring game was just a glimpse of what Calvin Hart Jr. has been working towards. Now only a few weeks away from the opportunity to hear the crowd as he runs onto the field again, Calvin is doing his best to take it one day at a time.

“It’s definitely a process with everything and I learned with that whole process of getting hurt, just to be patient,” Hart Jr. said after Thursday’s practice at Memorial Stadium. “Don’t rush anything. So I’ve learned just to take every day as a blessing.”

Hart is coming off a season ending injury in the home opener against Nebraska last season. He only played three quarters before getting helped off the field with a knee injury but he made quite a first impression in Orange and Blue after transferring from North Carolina State. Hart had a sack, tackle for loss and 41-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown against the Huskers, earning him Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. The fun was short lived after getting hurt though and Calvin isn’t spending much time looking back on the past.

“We just got to keep working,” Hart said. “We just can’t be satisfied with what’s going on or what we did. We got to be worried about only about the future. We just focus on our future and what we can do to get better every day.”

“We’re the best that we should be anyways so I think that al of us are doing what we need to do to make sure we’re on par,” fellow Illinois linebacker Tarique Barnes said about the position group.

“Every practice just competing to be the best every single day,” Hart added. “It doesn’t start on Saturday, it starts today. These next couple weeks we just have to work hard and keep stacking days.”

Hart and Barnes are roommates and will anchor the middle of the Illini defense as two of only three upperclassmen at inside linebacker, along with Isaac Darkangelo.