College Football Preview Series: the 32 teams we’ll cover this summer

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It’s already that time of year when this site shifts more into pop culture, media and entertainment mode. What did you think I did when there was no football and basketball? Well, Spurs vs Heat Finals? Yawn.Been there. Done that.

And the Blackhawks have obviously jumped the shark now. So hockey and NBA are both done for me for this season. That summer lull of dullness also means I start the way to early college football previews.

Here’s who we’re previewing and why. 32 teams just like in the NFL.
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Illini Legend Red Grange is Big Ten Icon #1!!!

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Just announced today, the #1 overall sports icon in Big Ten history is…..Red Grange of the Illinois Fighting Illini! The man who was the Babe Ruth of college football and the NFL.  He even had a candy bar named after him; just like Ruth. Grange was named the greatest college football player of all time on New Year’s Day 2008, and he pretty much put the Chicago Bears on the map in the 1920s.

He was so big that required two nicknames, the “Galloping Ghost” which conveyed his immortality. And the “Wheaton Iceman” conveying the everydayness of this 5’10” 175 pound legend. [Read more…]

Will Super Bowl Make Rashard Mendenhall Greatest Illini Rusher Ever?

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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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Mendenhall, Pierre Thomas Making Illinois Running Back U. (sort of)

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By Paul M. Banks

It hasn’t been the greatest season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it has been a very productive campaign for the man who usurped Willie Parker as starting tailback. This year Rashard Mendenhall is living up to the lofty expectations he had as a first round draft pick in 2008. The Skokie native and University of Illinois product is in the NFL’s top ten in both yardage and yards per carry.

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