Illini Football All-Decade Team Announced: Part 1 Defense


The University of Illinois announced their All-Decade Team this week. We’ll start with the defense, and we’ll open with the defensive linemen: Will Davis, Corey Liuget, Brandon Moore, Chris Norwell and Derrick Strong named to the 31-player team. The squad, which honors Illini who played between 2000-10, was compiled by a combination of fan voting and input from Division of Intercollegiate Athletics staff.


Davis was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and was a sixth-round selection by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2009 NFL Draft. He currently is in his third season with the Cardinals.

Liuget anchored a defensive line that led the Illini to a Texas Bowl victory in 2010, recording 63 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and 10 quarterback hurries. He was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media, and was a first-round pick by the San Diego Chargers in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Moore keyed the defensive line that helped lead the Orange and Blue to the 2001 Big Ten championship, the 2002 Sugar Bowl and a 10-2 finish. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2001 and has played for the New York Jets as an offensive guard since 2003, taking a streak of 111 consecutive starts into the 2011 season.

Norwell joined Davis on the 2007 defensive line, collecting 32 tackles, 3.5 TFLs and 0.5 sacks. He also led the Illini with 7.5 TFLs and 3.0 sacks in 2005. Norwell also holds the school record for career starts by a defensive lineman with 46. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2007.

Strong helped anchor the defensive line from 2000-03, tying for the team lead in tackles for loss in 2002 and leading the squad in the category in 2003.

Some people call UI “Linebacker U.” and the linebackers on the team are J Leman, Brit Miller, Jerry Schumacher and Martez Wilson

Leman was a consensus All-American in 2007 after leading the Illini to the 2008 Rose Bowl, Illinois’ first consensus All-American since Kevin Hardy in 1995. Leman led the Illini with 132 tackles in 2007 after posting a team-high 152 tackles in 2006, the sixth-highest number of tackles in a season in UI history. Leman was a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete and finalist for the Draddy Award, Ronnie Lott Award and Danny Weurffel Award. He also was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, Rotary Lombardi Award, Bednarik Award and Nagurski Award. Leman led the Big Ten and ranked third nationally in tackles per game in 2006, and was third in the Big Ten and 22nd nationally in 2007. Leman currently is in his second year in the NFL, playing for the San Diego Chargers.

After starting alongside Leman for two seasons, Miller stepped into the middle linebacker spot in 2008 and matched Leman’s tackles from the previous season with 132. Miller led the Big Ten and ranked fifth nationally with 11.0 tackles per game in 2008 and ranked 25th nationally in TFLs per game. A semifinalist for the Ronnie Lott Award and member of the AFCA Good Works Team, Miller earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the media and second-team honors from the coaches in 2008.

Schumacher ranks 10th in UI history in career tackles with 370 after topping the 100-tackle mark in 2000 (104), 2001 (125) and 2002 (122). He is tied with Miller for ninth on the career TFLs record list and is tied for ninth on the single-season TFLs list with 17 in 2001.

Wilson led Illinois with 112 tackles in 2010, after recovering from a neck injury that ended his 2009 season after one game. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors by the media and second-team laurels from the coaches in 2010 after being tied for fourth in the Big Ten with 8.6 tackles per game and tied for ninth in TFLs with 11.5. He declared for the 2011 NFL Draft following his junior season and was selected in the third round by the New Orleans Saints.

Defensive backs Alan Ball, Vontae Davis, Kelvin Hayden, Kevin Mitchell and Eugene Wilson

Ball ranks eighth on UI’s career passes broken up record list with 22 and his 12 PBUs in 2006 are tied for fifth-most in school history. Ball was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2006 and a seventh-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2007 NFL Draft. He is entering his fifth year with the Cowboys in 2011.

Davis was a third-team All-American by Pro Football Weekly and in 2008 after ranking second on the Illini with 78 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, two interceptions and eight PBUs. Davis entered the 2009 NFL Draft after his junior year and was a first-round selection by the Miami Dolphins. He enters his third season with the Dolphins in 2011.

Hayden was named to the All-Decade Team despite playing only two years at Illinois after transferring from Joliet Junior College prior to the 2003 season. He led the Illini in receiving yards and receptions in 2003 with 592 and 52, respectively. After switching to cornerback during the following spring practice, Hayden started all 11 games and finished fifth on the team with 71 tackles. He tied for the Big Ten lead with four interceptions and ranked 10th in passes defended. He was drafted in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts and is currently a free agent after playing the last six seasons with the Colts.

Mitchell was a three-year starter at safety from 2005-07, totaling 33 career starts and helping lead the Illini to the 2008 Rose Bowl. Mitchell was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2007 and signed a free-agent contract with the Washington Redskins prior to the 2008 season. He currently serves as the defensive graduate assistant at New Mexico.

Wilson was a 2002 Playboy All-American and a semifinalist for the 2002 Thorpe Award. He also was a second-team All-American in 2001 by Football News and a third-team All-American by The Sporting News. He led the nation in PBUs in 2001 with 30, which also is a UI record. His 16 PBUs in 2000 and 14 in 2002 also rank third and fourth, respectively. He holds the UI career PBU record with 60 and is tied for second on the single-game record list with five against Penn State on Nov. 10, 2001. He also led the Illini in interceptions in 2000 and 2001, and is tied for sixth in career interceptions with 11.

Wilson was selected by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft and has two Super Bowl rings after winning Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX with the Patriots. He currently is a free agent after playing with the Patriots from 2003-07 and the Houston Texans from 2008-10.

All-Decade Team

Will Davis, DL

Corey Liuget, DL

Brandon Moore, DL

Chris Norwell, DL

Derrick Strong, DL

J Leman, LB

Brit Miller, LB

Jerry Schumacher, LB

Martez Wilson, LB

Alan Ball, DB

Vontae Davis, DB

Kelvin Hayden, DB

Kevin Mitchell, DB

Eugene Wilson, DB

Jason Reda, PK

Steve Weatherford, P

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