Preseason Honors and New Field Turf for Illini

Nathan Scheelhaase was added to the 2012 Davey O’Brien Award ‘watch list’ last week and the Illini now have five different players named to 13 different lists prior to the upcoming season. Scheelhaase accompanies Jonathon Brown (Jr., LB), Michael Buchanan (Sr., DE), Graham Pocic (Sr., C) and Akeem Spence (Jr., DT) as the Illini players to earn preseason honors.

Illini fans shouldn’t get too riled up about these watch lists because the players still have to go out and produce. There are now five Big Ten quarterbacks who have been named to the 2012 Davey O’Brien watch list. This award goes to the nation’s best quarterback, and last year’s honor went to Robert Griffin III.

This is quite an honor for Scheelhaase and this weekend I will have a chance to ask him what it means to him. I will be attending the Big Ten Media Day at McCormick place in Chicago. In Scheelhaase’s company will be star players from other schools along with their head coaches.

The Illini have a great shot at shocking a lot of people this season, but they certainly have some issues to address. Who will carry the load at running back? Donovonn Young or Josh Ferguson? Scheelhaase was last season’s leading rusher and an injury certainly looms if that is the case this season.

Additionally, their special teams will have to recover from one of the poorest seasons in school history.

In other news: Memorial Stadium will have new turf and a new field design by the start of the 2012 season. The Block I logo will be surrounded by an outline of the state of Illinois, while the end zones will still have ILLINOIS in the Block I font. The Illini will take the new field with a new coach and possibly even new helmets. Hopefully these new additions to the squad can translate into some victories on the field. If you have a question you MUST have asked at the Big Ten Media Day this week, send me an email at

Illini 2012 Preseason Honors; Watch Lists (per FIGHTINGILLINI.COM as of 7/18)
• Jonathan Brown, LB – Nagurski Trophy (Def. POY), Bednarik Award (Def. POY), Lott Trophy (Def. POY), Butkus Award (LB), Rotary Lombardi Award (OL, DL or LB), Phil Steele All-American (fourth team)
• Michael Buchanan, DE – Nagurski Trophy (Def. POY), Bednarik Award (Def. POY), Rotary Lombardi Award (OL, DL or LB)
• Graham Pocic, C – Outland Trophy (Interior line), Rimington Trophy (C)
• Nathan Scheelhaase, QB – Davey O’Brien Award (QB)
• Akeem Spence, DT – Outland Trophy (interior line), Rotary Lombardi Award (OL, DL or LB)

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