Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE
While the Illini defense is losing a lot of its best players to graduation and the NFL this spring, at least one potential early exit plans on being back for his senior season.
On Tuesday we found out that Akeem Spence would be foregoing his senior season in Champaign to enter the NFL Draft. It was a decision that was not a surprise, but still a reality that hurts this team in 2013. But there is good news.
It seems Akeem will be the only junior on this defense to leave early, as Mark Tupper tweeted Wednesday that Jonathan Brown will return for his senior season.
And that's excellent news. Brown's 2012 season (59 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks) did not quite live up to his sophomore campaign (108 tackles, 19.5 TFL, 6 sacks and an interception...holy shit remember how good Jonathan was in 2011?) but a lot of that can be attributed to the various injuries Jonathan dealt with as he played in only 9 games this season.
If he can stay healthy in 2013 and get back to playing like the Jonathan Brown we saw in 2011 it would be a huge boost to an Illini defense that definitely needs to improve next season if we're going to win more games.