Spartan Nation 2007 scouting report:  Illinois Fighting Illini

 
Predicted record:  7-5 (3-5)

Projected Big Ten standing:  7th tied with MSU in the Big Ten.

Returning Starters:  OFFENSE:  8 DEFENSE:  9 Lettermen return:  45 

Head Coach:  Ron Zook 4-19 Lifetime 27-33

Top assistant:  Vince Okruch DC

 
Let’s get right to the chase.  Former (and fired) MSU head coach JLS came out at the end of last season and made all the hints he could that Ron Zook is a cheater.  Amazing that a man that could never recruit a defensive player at all, and shied away from going head to head with the guys that he was paid significantly more than, would find the nerve to criticize anyone.  I can tell you that he has been checked backwards, forwards and side to side and there has never been even a glimmer of truth to that.  Whether at Florida or at Illinois he simply out works people, and that makes them look bad.  One former Big Ten coach whom I am good friends with told me, “Ron whipped my a** as few times on the recruiting trail.  I can tell you that coaches who lose like to find “reasons” that they don’t get kids.  I know the folks that have checked him and now I know him and he isn’t a cheat!’

 
The point of the matter is that people have often said that if Zook can coach like he can recruit the sky is the limit with him.  I agree.  Sadly he never got the shot at Florida, although Urban Meyer did win a NC with his kids.  He is now starting his third season in Champaign and the Illini faithful are going to see some tangible results this season.  I predict the Illini to get to 7-5 and here is how.

 
Juice Williams returns, as QB and the SO is a bundle to watch.  He is gifted and if he can improve the “touch” on his passes, he will have a much-improved WR core to work with.  Illini has two of the top WR recruits in the nation coming in this season including the consensus #1 in Arrelious Benn.  He is a freak of nature stud and he will step in immediately and help.  Along with Juice, they also have a very good RB in Mendenhall and he also is a SO like Williams. 

 
The Zooker has this team on the rebound and the future is very good.  Their stadium is a complete dump but has a great heritage, and their facilities are poor and considering what Zook is doing the University has to step up and make the decision that football is important.

 
I like Zook personally (in fact you can click on the Hondo’s House ICON on the right to watch an interview I did with him) and I think that this is an improving program that is getting back to where it should be.  Illinois is a good school with a proud history and Zook is bringing them back.