Home > Illinois football > Spring practice #5: Henry staying put despite differing opinions on Illini staff

Spring practice #5: Henry staying put despite differing opinions on Illini staff

CHAMPAIGN – Ron Zook said last week that he never considered moving Trulon Henry from safety to linebacker.

Apparently, some of his staff members did.

“It was (considered) in some circles, not in others,” Illini defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said Wednesday.

Henry, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound senior, is bulkier and packs a more powerful punch than many of the Illini’s younger options at the second level. Henry finished last season with 64 tackles and a team-leading three interceptions.

“He’s a guy who could really helps us down there because he has a feel for it,” Koenning said. “He’s a good tackler.

Henry is of the same mold as recently graduated senior Nate Bussey, who also played safety before moving to strongside linebacker: a hard-hitting, instinct-driven rover.

But Zook said he was impressed by 5-foot-10, 205-pound junior Ashante Williams, who is the frontrunner to claim Bussey’s vacated starting role after so far receiving most of the first-team reps during spring practice.

“I really like the offseason Ashante’s had,” Zook said last week. “You can usually tell how they work off the field how they’re going to be on the field. I think he’s going to be fine.”

Spring practice #5 notes

–          The Illini scrimmaged on Wednesday, the first of the spring. The Illini offense scored on its opening drive, capped by a second-effort plunge from Jason Ford. But the defense kept the offense out of the endzone for the remainder of the almost 30-minute scrimmage. The passing game struggled. Starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was intercepted by defensive lineman Tim Kynard on a pass to the flat, and Miles Osei had his troubles locating the ball as well. Both quarterbacks run the option extremely well, though, hiding the ball from defenders.

–          A short-staffed Illini receiving core didn’t help much. Sophomore Spencer Harris dropped a deep ball from Osei off his chest. Redshirt freshman Anthony Williams also had a rough day, dropping one ball and fumbling twice – once in the red zone following a big play. Ryan Lankford continues to have a solid spring, as does walk-on Jake Kumerow.

–          Backup running back Troy Pollard looked explosive in back-to-back carries that netted about 25 yards. Sophomore Bud Golden also had a run of about 20 yards. Starter Jason Ford danced a few times around the line of scrimmage but is tough to bring down.

–          The Illinois offensive line struggled a bit Tuesday. Kynard, Justin Staples, and Glenn Foster and Whitney Mercilus were a few sacks spotted.

–          Cornerback Terry Hawthorne blocked Derek Dimke’s only field goal attempt, rushing off the right edge. He blocked the attempt, scooped the ball and ran it back untouched.

–          “It looked like most scrimmages are, a lot of slop.” Zook said. “We got a long, long way to go obviously and we have to get a lot better. We will.”

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