BIG 10 FOOTBALL CAPSULE: ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI

HEAD COACH: Lovie Smith

Hometown: Big Sandy, Texas

High School: Big Sandy High School

Bachelor’s Degree: Tulsa, 1980

School Record (years): 9-27 (3)

Big Ten Record (years): 4-23 (3)

Career Record (years): 9-27 (3)

 

ASSISTANT COACHES
Rod Smith (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks)

Gill Byrd (Passing Game Coordinator/Safeties)

Bob Ligashesky (Special Teams Coordinator)

Mike Bellamy (Running Backs)

Austin Clark (Defensive Line)

Andrew Hayes-Stoker (Wide Receivers)

Keynodo Hudson (Cornerbacks)

Bob McClain (Offensive Line)

Cory Patterson (Tight Ends)

Miles Smith (Linebackers)

 

Offensive Formation:

Multiple

Defensive Formation:

4-3

 

TEAM HISTORY:

First Year of Football: 1890

All-Time Record (Years):

606-593-51 (129)

All-Time Big Ten Record (Years):

343-433-32 (123)

Big Ten Championships (Last):

15 (2001)

All-Time Bowl Record: 8-10

National Championships: 5

Consensus All-America Selections: 25

First-Team All-Big Ten Selections: 171

 

Letterwinners Returning: 46

Offense: 17

Defense: 27

Special Teams: 2

 

Offensive Starters Returning (7)

RB Reggie Corbin

WR Ricky Smalling

WR Trenard Davis

OL Vedarian Lowe

OL Kendrick Green

OL Doug Kramer

OL Alex Palczewski

Defensive Starters Returning (10)

DL Bobby Roundtree

DL Owen Carney Jr.

DL Tymir Oliver

DL Jamal Milan

LB Jake Hansen

NB Delano Ware

DB Jartavius Martin

DB Nate Hobbs

DB Sydney Brown

DB Stanley Green

Starting Kickers Returning (1)

P Blake Hayes

 

Letterwinners Lost: 7

Offense: 4

Defense: 2

Special Teams: 1

Offensive Starters Lost (4)

QB AJ Bush Jr.

WR Sam Mays

TE Austin Roberts

OL Nick Allegretti

Defensive Starters Lost (1)

LB Del’Shawn Phillips

Starting Kickers Lost (1)

K Chase McLaughlin

 

STADIUM INFORMATION:

Name: Memorial Stadium

Capacity: 60,670

Surface: FieldTurf

Largest Crowd/Opponent/Year:

78,297 vs. Missouri, 1984

Team Record at Home Stadium:

273-239-14 (96)

 

2018 RESULTS

4-8, 2-7 Big Ten

7th/West Division

DATE SCORE OPPONENT

9/1 W, 31-24 Kent State

9/8 W, 34-14 Western Illinois

9/15 L, 19-25 vs. South Fla.

9/21 L, 24-63 Penn State

10/6 W, 38-17 at Rutgers

10/13 L, 7-46 Purdue

10/20 L, 20-49 at Wisconsin

10/27 L, 33-63 at Maryland

11/3 W, 55-31 Minnesota

11/10 L, 35-54 at Nebraska

11/17 L, 0-63 Iowa

11/24 L, 16-24 at Northwestern

2019 SCHEDULE

DATE OPPONENT

8/31 Akron

9/7 at UConn

9/14 Eastern Michigan

9/21 Nebraska

10/5 at Minnesota

10/12 Michigan

10/19 Wisconsin

10/26 at Purdue

11/2 Rutgers

11/9 at Michigan State

11/23 at Iowa

11/30 Northwestern

 

2019 INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

(RETURNERS IN CAPS)

PASSING GP Eff. Comp-Att-Int Pct Yds TD

Bush 10 108.5 117-217-10 53.9 1413 6

RIVERS II 8 104.8 56-101-3 55.4 547 3

 

RUSHING GP Att Yds TD

CORBIN 12 128 1085 9

Bush 10 138 733 8

BONNER 11 72 395 3

 

RECEIVING GP Rec. Yds TD

SMALLING 11 33 406 5

Mays 12 29 331 0

STAMPLEY 12 19 311 2

 

DEFENSE GP Tackles Sacks-Yds

HANSEN 12 95 8.5-18

Phillips 12 95 6-21

ROUNDTREE12 66 12.5-52

 

INTERCEPTIONS No. Yds TD

Phillips 4 36 0

MARTIN 3 0 0

 

TEAM STATS 2018

OFFENSE

PPG 26.0

RUSHING 243.0

PASSING 165.7

TOTAL OFFENSE 408.7

 

DEFENSE

SCORING 39.4

RUSHING 245.3

PASSING 263.1

TOTAL DEFENSE 508.3

TURNOVER MARGIN -4

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

RB REGGIE CORBIN

WR RICKEY SMALLING

OT ALEX PALCZEWSKI

G KENDRICK GREEN

DE BOBBY ROUNDTREE

DT JAMAL MILAN

LB DALE HARDING
CB NATE HOBBS

 

FIGHTING ILLINI.COM

ST. LOUIS: THE ILLINI “GATEWAY TO SUCCESS”

In 1804, when President Thomas Jefferson sent the team of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to the Mississippi River to check out the new lands that comprised his Louisiana Purchase, St. Louis came to be known as the “Gateway to the West.”

Two-hundred-plus years later, if Lovie Smith’s coaching staff is able to continue its bountiful raid of the football-rich talent that resides on either side of the Big Muddy, St. Louis and Metro East might soon be referred to as the University of Illinois’s “Gateway to Success.”

Nearly a third of UI’s 13 scholarship freshmen in 2019 are St. Louisans, including linebacker Shammond Cooper (Trinity Catholic High School), defensive lineman Moses Okpala (Ladue Horton Watkins H.S.), Metro East defensive end Keith Randolph (Belleville West H.S.) and quarterback Isaiah Williams (Trinity Catholic H.S.).

Second-year Illini tight ends coach Cory Patterson, a native of the city and the former head coach at Trinity Catholic, says much is expected from the quartet of St. Louis freshmen.

“We’re really excited to have them on campus,” Patterson says. “I’ve known most of these guys for a long time. They’re all intelligent, hard-working playmakers, so it wouldn’t be crazy to think that they’re capable of contributing this year.”

Patterson is confident that there will be a lot more St. Louis area college prospects in the coming seasons.

“I’d compare St. Louis and Metro East football with anywhere in the country,” Patterson said. “These areas have coaches that are doing a great job. Now, the rest of the country is starting to notice. It’s becoming a hot bed for recruiting.”

Cooper, Okpala, Randolph and Williams are joining seven other St. Louis area products already on the Illini roster. Tony Adams (Jr., St. Louis University H.S.), Stanley Green (Sr., East St. Louis H.S.), Jordan Holmes (So., Columbia H.S.), James Knight (Jr., East St. Louis), Griffin Palmer (Jr., De Smet Jesuit H.S.), Jordyn Slaughter (R-Fr., Althoff Catholic H.S.) and Nick Walker (Jr., Miller Career Academy H.S.) have already been in Champaign-Urbana for a few years.

So, just how important is metropolitan St. Louis to Illini football?

“It’s hugely important that we get a stronghold on those areas,” Patterson says. “I talked with Coach (Greg) McMahon when he was a recruiter back in the day. St. Louis and Metro East kids learn a lot to us because we’re close to home. There’s a lot of great talent down there. If we can get them to come here and play at the University of Illinois, we don’t have to go far to get some of the top guys.”

Over the first 129 seasons of Illini football, St. Louis and Metro East have sent hundreds of football players to Champaign-Urbana, 112 of whom have won at least one varsity letter wearing the Orange and Blue.

On the Illinois side of the Mississippi, the Illini have secured a sizeable number of all-star players. Dating back to the 1890s, high school programs from East St. Louis, Belleville, Alton, Collinsville, Carbondale and Edwardsville have historically contributed the most athletes.

Among ESL alumni, linebacker Dana Howard—the 1994 Butkus Award winner—is the most decorated, but Flyers standouts such as Terry Hawthorne, Dennis Stallings, and Kendrick Jones also were stalwart Illini.

East St. Louis hasn’t been the only source of Illini talent. Belleville prep stars who’ve matriculated to the U of I include Forry Wells, Garrett Johnson and Jason Ford. Carbondale has contributed players like Tony Laster, Mike Waller and Estus Hood. Alton standouts like Lavere “Liz” Astroth, Elmer Hickman and Travis Williams have attended Illinois. And O’Fallon has sent Rodney Byrd, Anthony McClellan and Darius Mosely to play Big Ten football.

Similarly, the list of St. Louis players who’ve traversed the Eads Bridge to cross into Illinois is a highly talented bunch.

From the 1970s through the ’90s, Illinois’s St. Louis standouts were plentiful, including Bonji Bonner (Sumner H.S.), Greg Foster (McKinley H.S.), Gary Jurczyk (Normandy H.S.), Calvin Thomas (McKinley H.S.), Darryl Wilson (University City H.S.), Thomas Rooks (Lutheran North H.S.), Craig Schneider (St. Charles Duschene H.S.), Brian Menkhausen (Hazlewood West H.S.), Henry Jones (University H.S.), Quintin Parker (Webster Grove H.S.), Jason Dulick (University H.S.), Robert Crumpton (Hazlewood Central), Neil Rackers (Aquinas-Mercy H.S.) and Jason Eberhart (Mehlville H.S.).

The flow of St. Louisans to Champaign-Urbana in the 21st Century has continued to be steady. The list includes Jamaal Clark (Riverview Gardens H.S.), Jason Davis (Lindbergh H.S.), Nathan Echard (Eureka H.S.), Mark Kornfield (University H.S.), Brian Koch (Francis Howell H.S.), Christian Morton (Riverview Gardens H.S.), Tim Russell (St. Charles H.S.), Brian Schaefering (Hazlewood East H.S.) and many others.

Carey Davis, a product of Hazlewood Central, who lettered at Illinois from 2000-03 then played five seasons in the NFL, glowed about his days on campus.

“It’s two-and-a-half hours—three hours at the max—for guys from this area to travel to Champaign-Urbana,” said Davis, fullback from 2000-03. “Their families don’t have to hop on a plane to see their kids play. The one thing that I learned during all of my years at Illinois is that it’s so different from St. Louis. With a mixture of people from Chicago, from Indiana, from different surrounding states, it’s a place where I got to experience something new.

“Illinois is a place you imagine when you think about college football. Hanging out on the Quad, going to parties, meeting different kinds of people; the University of Illinois offers all of those kinds of things.”

Nowadays, young St. Louisans refer to the U of I as “Littyville.”

“Littyville is a name that Thad Ward came up with,” Patterson said. “Everyone knows that the University of Illinois is one of the top academic schools in the country, but it’s also a place where you can have fun. When you talk about having fun, a lot of young guys call that being ‘lit’. That became Littyville. It’s caught on and grew legs, so I continue to roll with it.”

Patterson says Champaign-Urbana has “some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”

“Being in Champaign, it’s one of the most eye-opening things I’ve ever experienced,” says Patterson. “Everyone is so open and nice. I’m so happy that my family is here. It’s a great place to live. It’s one of those places where I’m hoping we can win some games and I can stay for a long time.”

 

2019 ROSTER

2 Reggie Corbin RB 5-10 200 Sr. Upper Marlboro, Md. Gonzaga College HS  
3 Jakari Norwood RB 5-10 180 R-Fr. Pompano Beach, Fla. Deerfield Beach  
4 Ricky Smalling WR 6-1 205 Jr. Chicago, Ill. Brother Rice  
5 Milo Eifler LB 6-2 230 Jr. Berkeley, Calif. Bishop O’Dowd U. of Washington
6 Tony Adams DB 6-0 195 Jr. Belleville, Ill. St. Louis University HS  
6 Dominic Stampley WR 5-10 180 Jr. Champaign, Ill. Centennial Coffeyville CC (Kan.)
7 Stanley Green DB 5-11 200 Sr. East St. Louis, Ill. East St. Louis Senior  
7 Coran Taylor QB 6-2 210 R-Fr. Peoria, Ill. Peoria  
8 Nate Hobbs DB 6-0 190 Jr. Louisville, Ky. Louisville Male  
9 Dele Harding LB 6-1 230 Sr. Elkton, Md. Eastern Christian  
10 James Knight LB 5-10 215 Jr. East St. Louis, Ill. East St. Louis  
11 Carlos Sandy WR 5-9 175 So. Dania Beach, Fla. Cardinal Gibbons  
12 Matt Robinson QB 6-1 185 R-Fr. San Juan Capistrano, Calif. J Serra Catholic  
13 Caleb Reams WR 6-2 230 Sr. Gurnee, Ill. Warren Township  
14 Blake Hayes P 6-6 230 Jr. Melbourne, Australia Brighton  
15 Trenard Davis WR 6-0 195 Sr. Boynton Beach, Fla. American Heritage School  
15 Delano Ware LB 6-0 205 So. Richmond, Calif. El Cerrito  
16 Cam Miller QB 6-1 220 Jr. Evergreen Park, Ill. Brother Rice  
17 James McCourt PK/P 6-1 210 Jr. Parkland, Fla. St. Thomas Aquinas  
17 Kendall Smith WR 6-1 200 Jr. Bolingbrook, Ill. Bolingbrook  
20 Nick Walker DB 5-10 185 Jr. St. Louis, Mo. Miller Career Academy (Mo.) Cisco College (Texas)
21 Ra’Von Bonner RB 5-11 215 Jr. Cincinnati, Ohio Sycamore  
21 Jartavius Martin DB 6-0 190 So. Lehigh Acres, Fla. Lehigh Acres  
22 Kenyon Sims RB 5-11 195 R-Fr. San Diego, Calif. Lincoln  
22 Dylan Wyatt DB 6-0 180 So. Oakland, Calif. Saint Mary’s College HS  
23 Ron Hardge III DB 6-1 180 So. Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Cardinal Gibbons  
23 Conner Lillig RB 5-10 190 So. Oak Park, Ill. Fenwick  
24 Dawson DeGroot LB 6-1 210 Jr. Fort Myers, Fla. Fort Myers  
25 Dre Brown RB 5-11 215 Sr. DeKalb, Ill. DeKalb  
25 Kerby Joseph DB 6-1 200 So. Orlando, Fla. Jones  
26 Mike Epstein RB 6-0 200 Jr. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. St. Thomas Aquinas  
28 Nolan Bernat DB 5-10 190 Sr. Bartlett, Ill. Bartlett HS College of DuPage
29 Christian Bobak DB 6-0 200 Jr. Hinsdale, Ill. Hinsdale Central  
30 Sydney Brown DB 6-0 210 So. London, Ontario St. Stephens Episcopal (Fla.)  
32 Tailon Leitzsey DB 6-0 180 Jr. Laurel, Md. Riverside Missouri Baptist University
32 Justice Williams WR 6-3 215 Sr. Frisco, Texas Wakeland  
33 Ezekiel Holmes DL 6-3 240 R-Fr. Wichita Falls, Texas Hirschi  
35 Jake Hansen LB 6-1 230 Jr. Tarpon Springs, Fla. East Lake  
38 Caleb Griffin PK 6-3 210 R-Fr. Danville, Ill. Danville  
39 Bobby Venegas LB 6-2 220 So. Flossmoor, Ill. Homewood-Flossmoor  
42 Michael Marchese DB 6-4 210 Jr. Vernon Hills, Ill. Stevenson  
45 Khalan Tolson LB 6-0 220 So. St. Petersburg, Fla. Admiral Farragut Academy  
46 Alec McEachern LB 6-1 225 So. Plainfield, Ill. Benet Academy  
51 Sean Coghlan LB 6-0 220 So. Chicago, Ill. St. Rita  
52 Verdis Brown OL 6-4 315 R-Fr. Chicago, Ill. IMG Academy (Fla.)  
52 Ayo Shogbonyo DL 6-2 240 Jr. Arlington, Texas Mansfield Summitt  
53 Kendrick Green OL 6-4 305 So. Peoria, Ill. Peoria  
54 Marc Mondesir LB 6-2 225 Jr. Chicago, Ill. St. Rita  
54 Julian Pearl OL 6-6 295 R-Fr. Danville, Ill. Danville  
55 Jamal Milan DL 6-3 305 Sr. Chicago, Ill. Al Raby  
56 Ethan Tabel LS 6-0 215 Jr. Barrington, Ill. Barrington  
58 Preston Engel OL 6-0 270 R-Fr. Normal, Ill. Normal Community  
63 Alex Palczewski OL 6-6 300 Jr. Mount Prospect, Ill. Prospect  
65 Doug Kramer OL 6-2 300 Jr. Hinsdale, Ill. Hinsdale Central  
66 Jordyn Slaughter OL 6-5 300 R-Fr. Belleville, Ill. Althoff Catholic  
68 Jake Stover OL 6-3 300 So. Chicago, Ill. St. Rita  
72 Kievan Myers OL 6-5 325 R-Fr. Dallas, Texas Bishop Dunne  
73 Jake Cerny OL 6-5 300 Jr. Traverse City, Mich. Traverse City West  
74 Richie Petitbon OL 6-4 310 Sr. Annapolis, Md. Gonzaga College HS University of Alabama
75 Kurt Gavin OL 6-4 300 Jr. Mokena, Ill. Lincoln-Way East  
79 Vederian Lowe OL 6-6 320 Jr. Rockford, Ill. Auburn  
80 Edwin Carter WR 6-3 180 R-Fr. Jacksonville, Fla. Sandalwood  
81 Griffin Palmer TE 6-5 240 Jr. St. Charles, Mo. De Smet Jesuit  
82 Luke Ford TE 6-6 250 So. Carterville, Ill. Carterville University of Georgia
83 Bobby Walker TE 6-4 240 Sr. Golf, Ill. Loyola Academy  
84 Jordan Holmes WR 6-0 185 So. Columbia, Ill. Columbia  
85 Dylan Thomas WR 5-11 180 R-Fr. Monticello, Ill. Monticello  
86 Donny Navarro WR 5-11 185 So. Naperville, Ill. Neuqua Valley Valparaiso
87 Daniel Barker TE 6-4 245 So. Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Deerfield Beach  
88 Brandon Jones DL 6-5 240 Jr. Columbia, Mo. Hickman  
89 Alex Pihlstrom TE 6-6 240 So. Glen Ellyn, Ill. Glenbard West  
90 Lere Oladipo DL 6-3 280 So. Huntley, Ill. Huntley  
91 Jamal Woods DL 6-2 290 So. Hueytown, Ala. Hueytown  
92 Isaiah Gay DL 6-3 230 Jr. Nashville, N.C. Northern Nash  
93 Calvin Avery DL 6-2 330 So. Dallas, Texas Bishop Dunne  
95 Kenyon Jackson DL 6-0 290 Sr. Little Rock, Ark. Parkview Arts & Science Magnet  
96 Tymir Oliver DL 6-4 290 Sr. Philadelphia, Pa. West Philadelphia Catholic  
97 Bobby Roundtree DL 6-5 255 Jr. Largo, Fla. Largo  
98 Deon Pate DL 6-2 280 So. Jacksonville, Fla. Trinity Christian Academy  
99 Owen Carney Jr. DL 6-3 255 Jr. Miami, Fla. Miami Central  

 

TEAM STRENGTH

Illinois ranked #2 in the conference in rushing and return all the key players in the running game. The defense can’t help but be better than last season.

 

TEAM WEAKNESS

Outside the defense, finding a starting QB is a must. The receiving corps is one of the worst in the Big 10. The offensive line lacks depth.

 

FINAL OVERVIEW

Coach Lovie Smith is running out of time to turn this program around. The roster has more experience with 17 returning starters. The offense got better last season by averaging 26ppg. Getting to a bowl game is their goal.