Illini Football: Five Players Deserving of UI Athletics Hall of Fame


jack trudeau illini football

The Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame Class for 2020 was announced earlier today and it includes athletes and coaches from nine different sports. It’s only the fourth such class in U of I sports history and when you look at the full class, aggregated with the previous three, you still have some names missing.

(And we covered who should be next to get in, from men’s basketball, in this post). What’s the most glaring omission? Still not a single quarterback in the hall yet. It’s only the single most individual position in all of team sports. Plus the Illini had a dominant run of signal callers in the 1980s.

Not to mention the early 2000s, when they had a guy taking the snaps who was arguably the best in Illini history. So with that in mind, here are the next five Illini football players who should get in the next class or two, hopefully.

I mean if it’s meritocracy, they should.

Bill Burrell

He finished fourth in 1959 Heisman Trophy balloting. Illini football and Heisman Trophy candidate are not phrases that often go together, and thus the OL/LB is up next.

jack trudeau illini bowl

Jack Trudeau

The first two classes had no quarterbacks and also nobody from the 1983 Rose Bowl team (the first, last and only B1G side to play all nine other B1G schools and beat them all). Trudeau checks off both boxes. Yes, he’s gotten into plenty of legal trouble, and a Hall of Fame is about not just athletic accomplishments, but also morals and character. 

He was a guest of honor at last year’s Hall of Fame gala, so he appears to be in the school’s good graces. To this day, Trudeau is still the all time leading passer in Illini football history.

Kurt Kittner

While Trudeau is first in career passing yards, Kittner is #1, and by a very wide margin, in both TD passes and passing attempts. He’s right near the top for all the other major categories too.

The only other signal caller in school history to lead his team to a 10-1 regular season record and a B1G title is the next natural selection.

Robert Holcombe

In addition to being the school’s all time leading rusher, he’s also tied for fourth in touchdowns. Just because all the teams he played on were really awful doesn’t mean he should go overlooked. He consistently produced, despite the fact that every opponent had to worry about stopping him, and none of his teammates.


Al Brosky

Brosky holds the NCAA career records for interceptions with 29 (1950-1952), career interceptions per game at 1.1 (29 interceptions in 27 games), and most consecutive games with an interception at 15 (beginning November 11, 1950, vs. Iowa and ending October 18, 1952, vs. Minnesota). A College Football Hall of Famer, he’s one of the best DBs that the college game has ever seen.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link

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