Beckman: ‘I love it’

CHAMPAIGN — Camp Rantoul will return.

So will the Illinois football team having a scrimmage at Rantoul Township High School's Bill Walsh Field.

Second-year Illinois football coach Tim Beckman won't have his Illini in Rantoul for a long period of time favored by former Illinois coaches Ron Zook and Ron Turner.

But the Illini will station themselves at the Quarters Inn like they usually do, and eat all of their meals in Rantoul at The Linden banquet facility on the former Chanute Air Force Base from Aug. 12-20.

"The people up there are great," Beckman said. "It's just football. You talk football, you grow together as a team (and) you get to experience the things that are outside of the game of football. We'll have leadership-type activities at night also. It's about bringing 105 football players and 20-some coaches together."

Illinois will hold a 7 p.m. practice at RTHS its first day of practice on Monday, Aug. 12. Beckman did not have Illinois conduct a scrimmage at the Eagles' home field in 2012, and the 2011 scrimmage at RTHS, which had Big Ten Network cameras there, was interrupted by heavy thunderstorms.

"It won't be on a Saturday, so it'll be like Monday Night Football," Beckman said.

Illinois players — who will practice from Aug. 4-10 in Champaign — will bus up together to Rantoul on Sunday, Aug. 11. after media day and fan appreciation day at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

"We'll split the team up into orange and blue," Beckman said of the first week of practices. "You get more reps that way. We won't be on the field as long since the team is broken in half with 52 and 53 guys, so you get more one-on-one coaching, and it lets them work to be in better shape. A lot of the installation (offensively and defensively) is taken care of that first week."

Illinois will hold a second scrimmage during its second stay in Rantoul, but with a twist.

The Illini will bus back to Champaign and hold a 7 p.m. scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 17, at Memorial Stadium before returning to Rantoul to finish the final three days of camp.

Beckman had never conducted a preseason camp like Camp Rantoul — which Illinois has held each of the last 12 seasons — prior to arriving at Illinois. After experiencing it last August, he's in favor of holding it as long as he's here.

"I love it," Beckman said. "I really do. I think it's a unique thing that not everyone gets to do."

mdaniels@news-gazette.com

Categories (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports

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