Steelers Troy Polamalu’s College Counterpart (Hair Wise): Illini RB Troy Pollard

The similarities between Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and Illinois Fighting Illini leading rusher Troy Pollard go further than just the amazing coincidence in names. There’s the hair thing too!

You’ve seen Polamalu’s shampoo commercials, right? “Troy Polamolecules dude.”

You can go here for more. But let’s learn more about the man nicknamed “bucket o’ hair.”

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Troy Pollard, Jay Prosch Add to Illini RB Depth

While Illinois’ rushing offense has remained dominant, the Illini are doing it by committee this year rather then relaying on one dominant runner like they did in 2007 (Rashard Mendenhall) and 2010 (Mikel Leshoure). Four different Illini have over 200 rushing yards on the season, and all four have scored at least one rushing TD.

Senior RB Troy Pollard (a runner in the Daniel Dufrene, Rocky Harvey mold) leads the Illini ground attack with a team-high 260 yards on only 25 carries (10.4 ypc). A fifth-year senior, Pollard (nicknamed “Bucket of hair” for obvious reasons) ran for a career-high 133 yards on 14 attempts (9.5 ypc) last week against Western Michigan, marking his second 100-yard effort in the last three games (101 vs. South Dakota State on 9/10).

He provides the “lightning” in the “thunder and lightning” type backfield approach. Freshman Donovonn Young is the thunder.

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Donovonn Young Might Continue Illini #5 Running Back Tradition

Given the recent tradition/memories of the last two players to wear the famed #5 in Champaign: Mikel Leshoure (a Detroit Lions rookie who will miss the season with an injury) and the Pittsburgh Steelers Rashard Mendenhall (who’s developed into a Pro Bowl, 1,000 yard rusher style NFL back) it’s easy to see why the jersey number is starting to take on a special meaning for Illinois Fighting Illini football.

The orange and blue #5 is developing into a new, stellar tradition in college football and Donovonn Young is the next in line for the Illini.

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Will Super Bowl Make Rashard Mendenhall Greatest Illini Rusher Ever?

mendenhall

For the second year in a row, the Super Bowl will have a feature back from the University of Illinois. This time, the Illini tailback is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Rashard Mendenhall;  who in 2008 became the first University of Illinois player taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since 1996.

14 years ago, UI produced the #2 (Kevin Hardy taken by Jacksonville) and #3 overall (Simeon Rice drafted by Arizona) picks. Hard to believe that team went 5-5-1. Mendenhall’s 4.45 forty time, ideal size at 5’11”, 225, a 33½ inch vertical, Shard has developed into a star in the NFL. The native of Skokie will burn by you, run through you and impress you with a last name that sounds like it should belong to a British aristocrat. Or perhaps the name of the English countryside mansion where that nobleman lives.

Mikel Leshoure is drawing all sorts of Mendenhall comparisons right now, as his draft stock is gaining serious momentum. But who are the other Illini rushers who made their presence felt in the NFL?

By Paul M. Banks

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