Illini RB Mikel Leshoure Entering NFL Draft

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Illini junior running back Mikel Leshoure held a new conference at his alma mater, Champaign Centennial high school, where he announced his entrance into the NFL Draft. And with the choice to hold a presser on this decision at his high school, he has has yet another trait in common with Pittsburgh Steelers tailback Rashard Mendenhall. Expect to hear even more Mendenhall comparisons as we enter NFL draft season.

By Paul M. Banks

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Coincidentally, Illini Linebacker Martez Wilson announced his decision to turn pro yesterday.

Earlier it was announced that Illini redshirt-freshman defensive tackle Akeem Spence earned first-team Freshman All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America, complementing the honor Spence earned from Rivals.com in December.

Last month Leshoure was named to the Associated Press All-America second team, the third such honor for Leshoure, along with a third-team selection by Rivals.com and an honorable mention laurel by Sports Illustrated, and Spence’s first honor. The AP honor is considered the most prestigious in college football.

He’s the first Illini AP all-American since Martin O’Donnell was named first team in ’07

Leshoure broke Rashard Mendenhall’s school record for single season rushing yards in the Illinois blowout win over Baylor in the Texas Bowl.

The Champaign, Ill., native also ranks first in school history with 20 touchdowns, rushing touchdowns and also broke Mendenhall’s school record for 100-yard rushing games in a season, achieving his ninth in the bowl game and he broke Robert Holcombe’s school record for rushing yards in a game earlier this season with his 330-yard outburst against Northwestern on Nov. 20.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

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