Coach: Ron Turner
26-31, 5 years
2001 Record: 10-2
at California WON 44-17
at Michigan LOST 20-45
at Indiana WON 35-14
at Purdue WON 38-13
at Ohio State WON 34-22
Louisiana State LOST 34-47

2001 Final Rankings
AP-12,   Coaches-12, BCS 8

No, not Spiderman, but 6-5 Walter Young has emerged as a deep threat.
2002 Outlook

The University of Illinois football program is riding high after posting its first 10-win season in eleven years in 2001 en route to the Big Ten championship. Once again, the Illini used a record-setting offense and revamped defense to earn the school's first berth in the Bowl Championship Series and a trip to the Nokia Sugar Bowl. Most people around the country may think that Illinois will have a difficult time repeating as Big Ten champion. The first topic of conversation on such a debate will always revolve around the departed Kurt Kittner at QB. Is that one aspect going to be enough to keep the champagne from flowing in Champaign? Not so fast. There is a bunch of talent suiting up for the 2002 version. Count them...SIX All Big Ten selections will return to play for Coach Ron Turner. The wide receiver units are pretty well stacked with all four leading receivers from last fall. The offensive line is led by All-American Tony Pashos. Illinois has the best cornerback duo in the Big Ten with Eugene Wilson and Christian Morton. The same cannot be said for the two safety positions, as new starters will have to be broken in. So back to the original question, who spells long time starter Kurt Kittner? That honor goes to a local boy, Dustin Ward, for now. Certainly, it can be said that no other QB received much attention on the field. Ward only played in three games in 2001 and attempted a grand total of eight passes. That's really low-balling his way into the drivers seat. The Illini would have been ranked much higher with a proven QB, but make no mistake, with all of the surrounding talent at certain positions, you can bet they will have their say in who wins the Big Ten once again.

Projected 2002 record: 9-4

QB - 2.5 DL - 2.5
RB - 3.5 LB - 4
WR - 5 DB - 3
OL - 3 ..
Passing: Dustin Ward, 4-8-1, 31 Yards, 1 TD

Rushing: Antoineo Harris, 169 att., 629 yds., 6 TD's

Receiving: Brandon Lloyd, 65 rec., 1062 yds., 10 TD's

Scoring: Peter Christofilakos, 12 FG, 29 PAT, 65 pts.

Punting: none

Kicking: Peter Christofilakos, 12-13 FG, 29-29 PAT, 65 pts.

Tackles: Jerry Schumacher, 125 tot., 85 solo

Sacks: Jerry Schumacher, 6 sacks

Interceptions: Eugene Wilson, 6 for 29 yards

Kickoff returns: Eugene Wilson, 12 ret., 19.6 avg.

Punt returns: Eugene Wilson, 25 ret., 10.0 avg.

OFFENSE: Kurt Kittner-QB, Rocky Harvey-HB, Brian Hodges-TE, Jay Kulaga-OG, Luke Butkus-C
DEFENSE: Terrell Washington-DE, Brandon Moore-DT, Bobby Jackson-SS, Muhammad Abdullah-FS, Steve Fitts-P

By: University of Illinois, Official Athletic Site

For the first time since the 1999 season, Illinois will have competition for the starting quarterback job. With four-year starter Kittner gone to graduation, backup Dustin Ward, Iowa-transfer Jon Beutjer and sophomore Mark Kornfeld begin the quest to fill his role. Ward has served as Kittner's relief the last two seasons and will benefit from his tutelage and knowledge of the complex pro-style system. Ward, a Champaign native, has played in 10 games in his career, including a start against Northwestern in 2000. He threw for 246 yards and two touchdowns against the Wildcats and was 20 of 37 on the day. Beutjer enters the equation with more game experience, but not in the Illinois system. The junior was a four-game starter at the University of Iowa in 2000 completing 61 percent of his passes during that time. He was 77 of 125 for 841 yards, tossing six touchdown passes. Kornfeld is a sophomore who spent the last two seasons on the squad, redshirting the 2000 season.

Wide Receivers
A very talented, experienced group of receivers return for the Illini this spring, including both starters in Brandon Lloyd and Walter Young as well as the next two-leading receivers in Greg Lewis and Aaron Moorehead. In a system that spreads the ball around the field, many receivers have opportunities to make plays. In 2001, Lloyd led the crew with 1,062 yards receiving, making him only the fourth Illini to top the 1,000-yard mark in a single season. He hauled in 65 passes and 10 touchdowns which tied a single-season school record. Among his 65 catches were 11 receptions over 30 yards. Young emerged as a deep threat during the last three games of the season, posting 100-plus yards in each contest. Young and Lloyd combined for 1,952 yards and 18 scores. In addition to those offensive numbers another pair contributed another 514 yards and three touchdowns. Seniors Moorehead and Lewis have been dependable, consistent backups who allow no dropoff when they spell their starting counterparts. Turner on the wide receivers: "The receiving corp is one of the strongest aspects of our team We have experience, speed and chemistry. These athletes have been on the field together since the 1999 season and know their role in our system. Having Brandon back in the lineup last season added a new dimension to our passing game, however, having talented players like Walter, Greg and Aaron to depend on when Brandon was covered gave us a lot of weapons. Walter's height has been and will continue to be a huge advantage for us."

Running Backs
For the last three seasons, Illinois has split the running back position
between a pair of backs in Harris and Harvey, each giving a different look to the lineup. This season Harris will try his hand as the primary back. The powerful 221-pound runner led the team in rushing last year with 629 yards despite missing two games with a broken hand. Adding depth will be sophomore Ryan Clifford and redshirt-freshman Morris Virgil who will compete for the back up job. Clifford is a transfer from Eastern Michigan where he sat out his true freshman season with a knee injury. He was forced to miss the 2001 season due to the transfer rule and spent most of the season preparing the defense on the scout team. Virgil, a local product from Urbana, Ill., redshirted the 2001 season and worked with the scout team as well. Turner on the running backs: "I am excited about the depth and ability of this group. We look for great things from Antoineo this season. He has always shared time in the backfield and accepted his role because it was best for the team. This season he will play a new role and we have a lot of confidence that he will rise to the challenge. Carey really emerged last year and will be an integral part of our offense."

Offensive Line
The Illinois offensive line each season has improved and become a bigger and stronger group. This year is no different. With three returning starters, the Illini will have experience on the front lines. Last season, the line allowed only 16 sacks in 12 games which ranked second in the conference and among the Top-10 in the nation. For the first time since at least 1950, the Illinois offense topped the 5,000-yard total offense mark and had its third straight 2,000 yard passing season. Pashos, the returning right tackle, was a first team all-conference pick last season and will anchor this squad as the senior of the group. He has started 35 consecutive games, every game of his career, and could become the all time start leader with 11 this season. Pashos recorded 111 knockdown blocks during the year, averaging nearly 10 a contest. Joining Pashos as a returning starter is left tackle Sean Bubin and sophomore right guard Patrick Babcock. Bubin, who is a junior, started every game of the 2001 season. While Babcock started at guard for the regular season earning Sporting News Freshman All-American honors. Looking to fill the spaces left by the departure of All-Big Ten performers Luke Butkus and Jay Kulaga will be a bigger challenge. The Illini will have to replace four-year letterwinner and two-year starter Brian Hodges at tight end this season.


Returning Starters in Bold
QB Dustin Ward-Jr Jon Beutjer-Jr
FB Carey Davis-Jr Brad Haywood-Jr
RB Antoineo Harris-Sr Morris Virgil-Fr
WR Walter Young-Sr Aaron Moorehead-Sr
WR Brandon Lloyd-Jr Greg Lewis-Sr
TE Anthony McClellan-So Kenny Boyle-Jr
OT Sean Bubin-Jr Kyle Schnettgoecke-Fr
OG David Diehl-Sr Brian Koch-So
C Duke Preston-So James Brown-Sr
OG Patrick Babcock-So Aaron Hodges-Sr
OT Tony Pashos-Sr Clark Collins-So
K Peter Christofilakos-Jr John Gockman-Jr



By: University of Illinois, Official Athletic Site

Defensive Line
Much of the success of the 2001 defense came from the ability to use 10-11 players in each game on the defensive line alone. Illinois' aggressive new style resulted in a defense that improved its rush defense numbers by over 90 yards a game and was responsible for a schoolrecord 40 sacks. Of those 40, 28 sacks were made by a nation-leading 18 different defensive linemen. In addition to the 40 sacks, Illinois recorded 49 other tackles for loss. Returning for the defensive line corps is senior defensive tackle Brett Kautter and junior defensive end Mike O'Brien. Kautter had five tackles for loss and one sack in addition to five quarterback hurries. O'Brien showed great pass-rushing skills in 2001 with eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage and five of those sacks. Replacing graduated senior linemen Brandon Moore and Terrell Washington won't be an easy feat. The two combined for 91 tackles and nine sacks and more importantly 18 quarterback hurries.

The linebacking crew remains intact from the 2001 season with starters Jerry Schumacher, Ty Myers and Joe Bevis returning. Schumacher is the seasoned veteran of the group as he begins his third year as a starter. He moved from the outside to middle linebacker last season and led the team in total tackles with 125. He registered team highs with 17 tackles for loss and six sacks. His statistics ranked among the top-10 in the conference in all three categories. For his efforts he earned second-team All-Big Ten honors. Myers had his best game of the season as the Illini defeated No. 25 Ohio State on the road, intercepting two passes in the final five minutes to secure the win. With 5:19 remaining in the game, Myers picked off the Buckeye pass and returned it five yards for the score and a 34-22 victory. On the season, Myers recorded 48 total tackles, including three for loss also forcing one fumble and batting down seven passes. Bevis, the final returning starter, proved that size doesn't matter as his 6-0, 225-frame was third on the team in total tackles with 78 which included seven tackles for loss.

Illinois heads into spring drills with one of the strongest cornerback units in the country. During the 2001 season, All-American Eugene Wilson led the nation in passes broken up with 30 and co-starter Christian Morton had the nation's second highest total with 26. In the new defensive system adopted in 2001, the corners were forced to play most of the games on an island and answered with a combined 140 tackles, 10 interceptions and 56 passes defended between the two. Wilson led the way with six picks and had a sack in Illinois' win over Purdue. Morton intercepted four passes and returned two for touchdowns against ranked teams. For their efforts, each garnered all-conference honors with Wilson on the first team and Morton on the second. Wilson's honors continued as he was named to the Sporting News, Football News and's All- America teams. Although Wilson will be looking to start his third consecutive season for the Illini, Morton is the exact opposite. He came to Illinois as a quarterback and chose to move to the defensive side last spring, proving to be one of the most effective cover corners in the con - ference. Turner on the cornerbacks: "Our cornerbacks are two of the finest in the nation. Their speed and athleticism in man coverage last season was one of the keys to the success on defense. We could not have been as aggressive up front had our corners not provided such great coverage downfield. Eugene had the kind of season we knew he could have and still continues to improve each day. Christian is just a phenomenal athlete and that was shown in his ability to adapt to a new position at this level."

With the loss of seniors Bobby Jackson and Muhammad Abdullah, the Illini will look to fill a depleted position. Looking to add to the mix are juniors Jamaal Clark and Marc Jackson and sophomores Kevin Anderson and Taman Jordan. Jackson, the brother of Bobby, was competing for the starting free safety job during fall drills before reinjuring his shoulder which eventually sidelined him for the season.


Returning Starters in Bold
DE Derrick Strong-Jr Jemari Perry-Jr
DT Jeff Ruffin-Jr Jamie Hanton-Sr
DT Brett Kautter-Sr Charles Gilstrap-Jr
DE Mike O'Brien-Jr Brian Schaefering-So
LB Ty Myers-Jr Estus Hood-So
LB Jerry Schumacher-Sr Mike Gawelek-So
LB Joe Bevis-Jr Matt Sinclair-So
CB Eugene Wilson-Sr Nana Agyeman-Jr
CB Christian Morton-Jr Mike Hall-Sr
SS Taman Jordan-So Kevin Anderson-So
FS Jamaal Clark-Jr Marc Jackson-Jr
P Steve Weatherford-So Matt Minnes-So
Brandon Lloyd became only the fourth Illini to top the 1,000-yard mark in a single season. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)