New Illini coach tours Camp Rantoul

By DAVE HINTON
Rantoul Press editor


New University of Illinois football coach Tim Beckman and staff toured the facilities known as Camp Rantoul Thursday afternoon to determine whether to continue using the village for its preseason practices.

Among those present were Mayor Neal Williams, Village Administrator Bruce Sandahl, Recreation Superintendent Rich Thomas and Youth Director Andy Graham.

The U of I officials first visited The Linden Banquet Facility. Also comprising Camp Rantoul are the nearby Quarters Inn and practice fields.

It is not known what kind of time frame Beckman has set for making a decision on whether to continue to use Camp Rantoul.

Beckman has been asked on several occasions whether he would continue to use Camp Rantoul since he was hired as the successor to Coach Ron Zook, who was fired following the 2011 season.

“We have not come to a true decision,” Beckman said in late January. “I’ve never done it. I want to go up there (to check it out). I think it’s got some unique advantages, but then there are some other things I like to do just staying here.”

Beckman said he would like to keep the “surprise issue” intact, with a new coach and staff and wonders if that will be possible in Rantoul as opposed to conducting closed practices at the university.

“We’re going to make a decision that’s best for the University of Illinois football team,” Beckman said.

Beckman has spoken to the Illini players about Camp Rantoul and received a range of opinions.

“Some love it, and some don’t,” Beckman said.

Zook, a former NFL coach, liked Camp Rantoul because all the facilities are within about a block of one another. A number of high school teams also use the facilities for football camps.

News-Gazette sports reporter Bob Asmussen contributed to this story.

dhinton@rantoulpress.com

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