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#AskTCR: Lovie Smith, Illinois NFL Draft prospects, Jeremiah Tilmon, & Crying Jordan

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When will Lovie Smith get Crying Jordan'd? Pretty soon, probably!

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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Twitter will absolutely hit Lovie with a crying Jordan at the earliest possible moment. Since Illinois opens the season against Murray State, the first opportunity will likely be on September 10 when the Illini face North Carolina (what a coincidence!) at home. Assuming the Orange and Blue remain competitive, I'll say that the first meme emerges on Twitter with 3:05 remaining in regulation. That's when I expect the Tar Heels to go up by two scores.

To be honest, though, getting crying Jordan'd will be a refreshing change of pace from lasagna, Skoal, and heart-daggers.

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Any more news on Jeremiah Tilmon?

- Yianni Laros, Facebook

Five-star big man Jeremiah Tilmon is/was rumored to be leaning heavily towards Illinois. There had been talk for weeks that he was looking to finalize things and announce his decision shortly after the DICK'S High School National Tournament. Unfortunately, Tilmon suffered an ugly shoulder injury in the championship game and he may need surgery. There's no word on how that'll impact his recruitment at this time.

The blue bloods (specifically North Carolina) know that the Illini are the team to beat right now, and they'll be doing everything in their power to catch up once the recruiting dead period ends tomorrow afternoon.

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A little context here first. The Illini were looking for a new coach after the 2002-03 season concluded. At that that point in time, Jay Wright had only logged two seasons at Villanova (34-29 record) and they both featured NIT appearances. Wright did make the NCAA Tournament twice (2000, 2001) during his time at Hofstra, though.

So that's clearly not the best resume, if we're being objective about where the Illini were at the time. I'd even wager that all programs in Illinois' shoes would've done the same.

Putting credentials aside, I don't think there's any way in hell that Jay Wright would've considered leaving Villanova for Illinois even if he had the opportunity to do so. I wasn't familiar with this before watching a recent interview from the Final Four, but Villanova was Wright's dream job; he's from Philadelphia and grew up watching the Wildcats.

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There may or may not be truth to that rumor.

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This is a complicated one because Lovie is already such an adorable name. Are we 100% sure that Lovie has been called 'Lovie' his entire life? Did his wife force him to change his name to Lovie? These are the questions we hope to answer this season.

Loviathan is probably not the best answer to this question.

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In my mind there's one surefire draft pick from Illinois and that's Jihad Ward. He's pretty fast for a 300-lb guy and played his way onto many team radars in the Senior Bowl. The main knock against him is that he's not quite fast enough to be a dominant 4-3 DE and not quite strong enough to be a dominant 4-3 DT, but he certainly has the frame to go either way and the upside is such that teams can't ignore it. I'll be shocked if he lasts past the middle of the 3rd round.

Geronimo Allison may have earned himself a late-round flier with his 2-TD performance at the Shrine Game and could be a role-playing possession receiver on a team that runs the ball a lot. I think he might go in round 6.

I'd be surprised if Teddy Karras weren't drafted. His name alone gets some attention (four Karrases have played in the NFL, including the legendary Alex) and he has the credentials to go along with it. I looked at the draft write-ups on NFL.com for these guys around the time they started getting attention at the Shrine Game, and Karras' has the following line:

Intensity on game day is legendary.

What an endorsement

The same draft guide rates Josh Ferguson as the 12th-best RB in the class. I was disappointed for Josh that he missed time this year and the run game never really developed, because I think he has the talent to be a Darren Sproles type of back at the next level. His 4.48 40 was impressive though not elite. As a small, shifty back with decent hands, good speed and the ability to make guys miss in the open field, he deserves a shot. If he's not picked in the 6th or 7th round, I expect him to be among the first UDFA signings.

So, hopefully, that's four Illini that get drafted. V'Angelo Bentley never refined his coverage game enough to get on the board, but his return ability will probably see him fight for a roster spot in training camp. Clayton Fedjelem is the kind of in-the-box-all-the-time safety that doesn't really have a place in today's NFL, and isn't big enough to convert to linebacker, so I don't see him catching on. I'd love to be wrong, as Fedjelem is one of my favorite players (who doesn't love walk-ons?).