I realize you may be getting a bit tired of Dawuane Smoot headlines, but the Illinois standout received another important mention. ESPN named the senior defensive end to their preseason All-Big Ten team on Monday along with fellow linemen Sam Hubbard (Ohio State) and Malik McDowell (Michigan State).
J.T. Barrett, Malik McDowell highlight our preseason All-Big Ten team https://t.co/COlEr2tCGR— ESPN Big Ten (@ESPN_BigTen) August 22, 2016
Smoot was also labeled as a Third Team preseason All-American by Pro Football Focus over the weekend. Combined with two appearances on award watch lists, it’s safe to say that this has been a pretty nice Summer for Smoot. Hopefully he’ll be able to back-up all of this attention with another strong season in Champaign.
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So, yeah, this does seem rather low for the Fighting Illini. However, Illinois has a very wide range of potential win totals for the upcoming season, and it wouldn’t be completely farfetched to see them make a big run.
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"Our defense is coming together," Nickerson Sr. said. "We’ve grown a lot from the first day of training camp. We’re leaps and bounds better than we were when we started and we’re finally clicking as a defense.
The Illini landed the 22nd-ranked recruiting class with the additions of 35th-ranked Kaylin Korte and 86th-ranked Jacqueline Quade. Both are outside hitters. Hambly believes Korte will compete for a starting spot this upcoming season.