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 Draft Scout College Football Player News: Illinois
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  11/27/20 - Brandon PetersrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-5, 220 (DS#16 QB) + More +

  Brandon Peters could not avoid the question. In fact, it was the first one asked of the Illinois senior quarterback on Monday afternoon. Does possessing an bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan make Saturday's 11 a.m. kickoff between the Illini (2-3) and No. 3 Ohio State (4-0) - the Wolverines' main rival - more meaningful to Peters? "For me, it's another game," said Peters, who transferred from Michigan to Illinois ahead of the 2019 season. "So being at Illinois now, it's obviously not a huge rivalry. But it's a huge game for Illinois this week, so we've got to treat it that way."

It's a spot for the Illini's current momentum, built by way of the last two weeks' road wins against Rutgers and Nebraska, to shoot into the stratosphere. The Buckeyes have won the last nine games with Illinois, though the Illini's last victory versus Ohio State came when the Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 in the nation in 2007. Peters should play a sizeable role in any success Illinois experiences this weekend at Memorial Stadium. His return last Saturday from a three-week absence necessitated by a positive COVID-19 test saw Peters connect on 18 of 25 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another score as the Illini put up more than 40 points in a Big Ten game for only the second time in the last five seasons. "As far as completion percentage goes and execution," Peters said, "it was definitely, by far, my best game that I've played." - News Gazette Tribune


(DS#16 QB) rSr/2021 QB Brandon PetersIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  11/24/20 - Brandon PetersrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-5, 220 (DS#16 QB) + More +

  The quarterback showed little rust after missing three consecutive games following a positive COVID-19 test. Instead, the senior left no doubt that the Illini offense still runs through him by leading it to nearly 500 yards while expertly controlling the tempo. He threw for 205 of those yards and contributed two total touchdowns. - News Gazette Tribune

(DS#16 QB) rSr/2021 QB Brandon PetersIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  11/21/20 - Jake HansenSr/2021, Illinois, 6-0, 230 (DS#20 ILB) + More +

  Lovie Smith didn't move Jake Hansen from inside linebacker to outside linebacker because of any shortcomings on Hansen's part. Even with his appearance in the season opener against Wisconsin shortened by injury, Hansen compiled 22 tackles, three tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery as an inside linebacker during Illinois football's first three games of 2020. Yet Hansen was told he'd be deployed differently in preparation for last week's game at Rutgers. The result? More dominance from the 6-foot-1, 230-pound senior. Specifically 15 tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, one pass breakup and one interception in the Illini's 23-20 victory over the Scarlet Knights.

"It's kind of a natural transition just because I played it all last year," said Hansen, whose 10 career forced fumbles have him tied him for third in Illinois history. "Just having a good knowledge of the defense helps that out as well." Smith said after Saturday's win and reiterated the point again on Monday afternoon ahead of this Saturday's 11 a.m. game between Illinois (1-3) and host Nebraska (1-2) that Hansen changed positions in order to give sophomore Tarique Barnes more repetitions. - News Gazette Tribune


(DS#20 ILB) Sr/2021 ILB Jake HansenIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  11/21/20 - Doug KramerrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-2, 300 (DS#9 C) + More +

  On Oct. 29, two days before the Purdue game, Illinois center Doug Kramer got hit with the double-whammy: 1) You can't play. And 2) Your teammate/roommate Brandon Peters has COVID-19. Talk about your all-time bummer. "I was fully prepared to play against Purdue and I was super excited after a tough Week 1 (loss at Wisconsin)," Kramer said Monday afternoon. "It kind of hit me like a brick wall. There was not much I could really do about it. Obviously, I was super disappointed when it happened because I wasn't going to be able to be out there with the team. I looked at (Kendrick Green) and (Vederian Lowe) and (Alex Palczewski) and just said, 'You guys can step up and do whatever you can to try to win these next two games."

Kramer, who had to miss the Oct. 31 game against Purdue and the Nov. 7 game against Minnesota because of contact-tracing protocols, admits he got angry about having to sit. "Definitely at the start just because you don't really have a lot of control over what happens," Kramer said. "It's kind of the way it has to be. You can do all the right things and all it takes is one positive test and four guys who have been doing the right thing the entire time since we came back have to sit out for two games in their senior season." - News Gazette Tribune


(DS#9 C) rSr/2021 C Doug KramerIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  11/21/20 - Brandon PetersrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-5, 220 (DS#16 QB) + More +

  Brandon Peters threw for one touchdown and ran for another in his first game in nearly a month, Illinois had two rushers go over 100 yards, and the Illini beat turnover-plagued Nebraska 41-23 on Saturday for their second straight win. The Cornhuskers won at Illinois last year despite committing four turnovers. They couldn't survive five, though, as the Illini won in Lincoln for the first time since 1924. Luke McCaffrey, making his second start at quarterback, committed the first of his four turnovers on the first play from scrimmage. Wan'Dale Robinson coughed up the ball as the Huskers (1-3, 1-3 Big Ten) tried to come back in the second half. Illinois (2-3, 2-3) led 28-10 after two quarters, their most first-half points against a conference opponent in 10 years, and was up 41-17 early in the fourth quarter. The Illini won their second road game in as many weeks.

Nebraska linebacker Collin Miller was taken off the field on a stretcher with about 12 minutes to play. He appeared to have been hurt while tackling Mike Epstein. Medical personnel tended to Miller for several minutes near the south end zone as players from both teams took a knee. He was strapped to a backboard and taken out of the stadium. There was no immediate announcement on the nature of his injury. Peters, who had been out since Oct. 24 because of a COVID-19 outbreak on the team, showed no rust in leading a balanced Illini offense that had 285 yards rushing and 205 passing. Nebraska entered the game as a 16-point favorite and ran into trouble immediately. - Illinois/AP College Football


(DS#16 QB) rSr/2021 QB Brandon PetersIllinois
News Source: Illinois/AP College Football
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  11/16/20 - Isaiah WilliamsrFr/2024, Illinois, 5-10, 180 (DS#999 QB) + More +

  NOV 16 BIG TEN FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: Isaiah Williams, Illinois, QB, St. Louis, Mo./Trinity Catholic,...Broke the school record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 192 yards on 31 attempts...Led Illinois to a comeback win at Rutgers in his first career start...Added 104 passing yards to finish the contest with 296 yards of total offense...Collects his first career Freshman of the Week award...Last Illinois Freshman of the Week: Patrick Nelson (Oct. 17, 2016). - Big Ten Football

(DS#999 QB) rFr/2024 QB Isaiah WilliamsIllinois
News Source: Big Ten Football
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  11/16/20 - James McCourtrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-1, 215 (DS#27 K) + More +

  NOV 16 BIG TEN SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: James McCourt, Illinois, Sr., K, Parkland, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas,...Converted a 47-yard field goal with three seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to lead Illinois to a 23-20 victory at Rutgers...Finished the contest with three successful field goals, all in the second half...Added a pair of extra points to tally with a career-high 11 points...Earns his first career Special Teams Player of the Week honor...Last Illinois Special Teams Player of the Week: Blake Hayes (Sept. 23, 2019). - Big Ten Football

(DS#27 K) rSr/2021 K James McCourtIllinois
News Source: Big Ten Football
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  11/14/20 - James McCourtrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-1, 215 (DS#27 K) + More +

  James McCourt overcame two long misses in the fourth quarter to hit a 47-yard field goal with three seconds left to lift Illinois past Rutgers 23-20 for the Illini's first win of the season. Rutgers' offense came out quick, with quarterback Noah Vedral finding Bo Melton on a 29-yard pitch and catch to cap off a six-play, 75-yard drive to make it 7-0 just 1:57 into the game. While starting quarterback Brandon Peters was missing his third straight game following a COVID-19 test, backup Isiah Williams got the start after his quarantine ended. He was the fourth starting quarterback of the season for Illinois (1-3, 1-3 Big Ten). After having 12 players out due to COVID-19 protocols against Minnesota last week, it was just Peters, who was on the sidelines in street clothes, and redshirt freshman tight end Griffin Moore - who did not make the trip.

Rutgers' defensive lineman Mike Teverdov stripped Williams, cornerback Max Melton recovered and the Scarlet Knights took it over on Illinois' 29-yard line with 7:52 left in the first quarter. That set up former Rutgers soccer player Ambrosio Valentino for his first career field goal attempt, a 29-yarder, for a 10-0 lead. Illinois answered courtesy of Williams, who had five-straight carries, and finished it off with his first score on a 3-yard touchdown run. The redshirt freshman finished with a game-high 192 yards rushing on 31 carries to overcome a 7-for-19 passing effort. Rutgers (1-3, 1-3) closed the first-half scoring with a 26-yard field by Valentino to make it 13-7. - AP College Football


(DS#27 K) rSr/2021 K James McCourtIllinois
News Source: AP College Football
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  10/31/20 - Brandon PetersrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-5, 220 (DS#16 QB) + More +

  Illinois is playing Purdue without starting quarterback Brandon Peters and tight end Griffin Moore. Both tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and will be sidelined 21 days per Big Ten protocol. Both would be eligible to return for the Nov. 21 game at Nebraska. Illinois also announced that contact tracing sidelined several other players for the Purdue game and next week's game against Minnesota. Sophomore Matt Robinson started at quarterback for the Ilini. He played in eight games last year and started two. The Illini opened the season last week at Wisconsin, whose team has had 22 players and staff test positive for COVID-19 this week. - AP College Football

(DS#16 QB) rSr/2021 QB Brandon PetersIllinois
News Source: AP College Football
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  10/27/20 - Brandon PetersrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-5, 220 (DS#16 QB) + More +

  The Illinois offense was shut out Friday, with the team's only score coming on sophomore linebacker Tarique Barnes' scoop and score after a Wisconsin fumble. Even though redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Williams got on the field against the Badgers, the Illini aren't looking to make a change. Brandon Peters still holds the QB1 designation. "We're not making any major changes based on one game where we all didn't perform the way we will - starting with the head football coach," Lovie Smith said. Williams' usage did end up being greater than originally expected. Rod Smith had specific packages designed for the St. Louis native - whether it be at slot receiver or quarterback - and then also used him as a change of pace as the Illinois offense sputtered. "I said, 'I'm going to give Isaiah a shot and see if he can give us a spark," Rod Smith said. "That was kind of out of trying to get a spark. I told Brandon, 'It's not a negative on you.' We were just trying to jump start (the offense) and get going." - News Gazette

(DS#16 QB) rSr/2021 QB Brandon PetersIllinois
News Source: News Gazette
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  10/27/20 - Roderick PerryrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-2, 300 (DS#27 DT) + More +

  Off the field, Perry is laid back. He cracks jokes in his interviews over Zoom and is honest in his responses. But, as Wilkes said, when the whistle blows he's a different animal. Wilkes had the unfortunate job of being offensive coordinator and seeing Perry on the defensive line ready to work. Always. Never a play off. It helped the Cary offensive linemen come game time after a week worth of seeing Perry lined up against them. "What sticks out the most about Rod is that consistency," Wilkes said. "It wasn't like he had this glimpse of greatness and moments of normalcy. It was always a high level with him. Even at practice, he competed hard. When the play was over or after practice, he was laid back and joking with his teammates. In between the whistle, you know what you were going to get."

Illinois head coach Lovie Smith called Perry a godsend in the offseason. The 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive tackle came along at the exact perfect time after the Illini lost Jamal Milan, Tymir Oliver and Kenyon Jackson to graduation. In reality, Perry may not have even been available had it not been for COVID-19 postponing the MEAC's season and South Carolina State's coaching staff encouraging Perry to go somewhere he could play immediately. Perry's phone blew up and so too did Wilkes'. In the end it came down to Illinois and Florida and a call from Smith sealed the deal to bring Perry to Champaign. - Herald-Review Times


(DS#27 DT) rSr/2021 DT Roderick PerryIllinois
News Source: Herald-Review Times
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  10/25/20 - Josh ImatorbhebherSr/2021, Illinois, 6-1, 220 (DS#37 WR) + More +

  Last year's leading receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe was targeted 10 times Friday night and caught three passes for 26 yards. Only tight end Daniel Barker, with three, had more than a single target. Peters looked to Imatorbhebhe early - and clearly often. "I was just throwing to where my reads took me," Peters said. "I don't drop back and just look for one guy. The guys that I found in the second half were the guys that got open." Offensive execution - or lack thereof - was both Peters' and Smith's takeaway Friday night. That was never more clear than in Illinois' struggles on third and fourth down. The Illini converted just two of their 10 third down opportunities and put up an 0-fer in three cracks by the offense at fourth down. "We had a lot of errors," Peters said. "We shot ourselves in the foot with not converting on fourth down and penalties as well. We've got to stay ahead of the chains. We've got to move the chains. If you look at the time of possession, they killed us. It was bad. We've got to focus on moving the chains, getting the first downs and executing. All those little things." - News Gazette Tribune

(DS#37 WR) rSr/2021 WR Josh ImatorbhebheIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  10/25/20 - Tarique BarnesSo/2023, Illinois, 6-1, 230 (DS#32 ILB) + More +

  Miles Smith was searching out linebackers for the Class of 2019 and stumbled on Tarique Barnes out of Memphis. Smith liked Barnes' film, particularly his speed. The Illinois football team had a heavy early signing period in that class but Barnes was a February signing. It largely flew under the radar in a class that included Marquez Beason and Isaiah Williams, a pair of highly-coveted four-star prospects. But Barnes came to training camp last season and looked good, showing his speed and physicality. He played in all 13 games, mostly on special teams. Entering this year, he was in the two-deep, but had defensive stalwart Jake Hansen ahead of him at middle linebacker.

Hansen was injured late in the first half on Friday, in a 45-7 loss to No. 14 Wisconsin at an empty Camp Randall Stadium. It was Barnes' time and he was ready. He nearly gave Illinois the spark it needed with a 39-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown late in the second quarter to pull within seven, 14-7, before the Badgers clobbered their way to a win. "It was supposed to be my player anyway," Barnes said. "Him catching the ball was kind of get right after that. Starting going down, the ball was kind of loose and punched it out. It slipped under everybody else. I saw it rolling out. Picked up and scored. That's the first thing we go for." Barnes was a bright spot for the Illini. He had a team-high 11 tackles, added a sack and a tackle for a loss. - Herald-Review Times


(DS#32 ILB) So/2023 ILB Tarique BarnesIllinois
News Source: Herald-Review Times
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  10/25/20 - Brandon PetersrSr/2021, Illinois, 6-5, 220 (DS#16 QB) + More +

  At the college home of Elroy Hirsch (ask your grandparents), Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters looked like "Crazy Legs" on a long scramble in the first half. Peters said he is in the best shape of his life. The 30-yard run was convincing. He was more effective with his legs than his arm, finishing with 75 yards on seven carries. He threw for just 87 yards. Going forward for the Illinois offense, Peters needs to throw more and run less. - News Gazette Tribune

(DS#16 QB) rSr/2021 QB Brandon PetersIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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  10/23/20 - Anthony ShiptonJr/2022, Illinois, 6-3, 305 (DS#999 DT) + More +

  Illinois has dubbed itself "Transfer U" after aggressively adding more than a dozen notable players to its roster via the transfer portal the last two offseasons. Adding transfers isn't new. Where the Illini have gone for their transfer additions is - particularly compared to former coach Tim Beckman's pursuit of junior college players - different. Since Nick Walker opted out of the 2020 season, the active Illinois roster includes just a single JUCO player in defensive tackle Anthony Shipton. The Cerritos College (Calif.) product could factor into the rotation at defensive tackle. "Shipton, he'll tell you he needs to get stronger, but he's been about who we thought he would be," Smith said. "He got here a little bit later than the rest of the crew, but he works hard...He brings energy each day. Pleasant to be around. Now it's about him taking these next steps. First thing, getting stronger and just continuing to develop." - News Gazette Tribune

(DS#999 DT) Jr/2022 DT Anthony ShiptonIllinois
News Source: News Gazette Tribune
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