Home > Illinois football > Ean Days getting more reps in banged-up Illini backfield

Ean Days getting more reps in banged-up Illini backfield

CHAMPAIGN– The temperature inside the Irwin Indoor Practice Facility was a comfortable 30 degrees higher than the near-freezing conditions outside, butIllinoisrunning back Ean Days was sweating like he had just gone through another summer two-a-day in stifling southern Georgia.

A banged up Illini backfield forced the Kingsland,Ga., native to take a majority of the carries during Wednesday morning’s scrimmage.

“I’m handling it all right,” Days said. “I’m pretty tired.”

Nursing injuries for most of the spring, starting running back Jason Ford missed practice again with a sore knee after testing it out and limping off the practice field Monday. Backups Troy Pollard and Bud Golden also have been dinged up, so Days – who switched from defensive back at the start of spring practice – is the only fully healthy tailback on the roster.

“He wanted to go to running back,”Illinoiscoach Ron Zook said. “He’s going to get a full plate of it.”

Days, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound redshirt freshman, doesn’t mind the crashcourse as a ballcarrier. Actually, defensive back was a more foreign position for the celebrated prep tailback.

“It’s like getting back home,” Days said. “(Defensive back) has nothing to do with it. I never played DB in my life until I got here. Running back’s where I’ve been my whole life, so it’s like second-hand to me.”

Days may be getting a leg up on incoming freshmen Donovonn Young and Josh Ferguson on the fall depth chart.

“He’s doing good,” Illini offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said. “Thank God we have him. He’s taken a million reps. …He’s tough. He’ll stick his nose in there and protect people. That’s half of it. That’s really 90 percent of it really is just being a tough back, and he is so he does a good job.”

“For as much as he’s had to learn in this short amount of time – our offense is pretty complex, even for a running back – he’s really done an excellent job,” starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase said. “Once he kind of learns it all, he’d run more like a natural running back.”

Zook said Ford will miss Saturday’s scrimmage but that Pollard and Golden should participate. But look for Days and fullback Jay Prosch to receive a majority of the carries.

“I got to make the most of it,” Days said. “I got to make the most of everything I do out here.”

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