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Illinois Football announces team captains for 2016 season

Good morning! Welcome to the Orange Minute for Wednesday, August 31.

Fighting Illini head coach Lovie Smith mentioned four yet-to-be-announced team captains during his first weekly press conference, and those players were finally revealed on Tuesday night. Illinois’ 2016 leaders will be senior quarterback Wes Lunt, senior center Joe Spencer, senior defensive end Dawuane Smoot, and senior linebacker Hardy Nickerson Jr.

In a change from past years, this quartet of players will be captains for the entire season; the roles changed every game under Tim Beckman/Bill Cubit. However, the weekly vote will live on in a different capacity as a fifth special teams player will join the group for each contest.

All-in-all, there were no surprises here. Lunt and Spencer were really the only two logical choices on offense, and while this is Nickerson’s first year in the Orange and Blue, he’s expected to be a key contributor on the other side of the ball.

Illinois Fighting Illini Links

- Thomas Pieters named captain’s pick for Ryder Cup (Chicago Tribune)

Pieters, who played at the University of Illinois, is another rookie but a form player in European golf after winning the Made in Denmark tournament last week. The 24-year-old finished fourth at the Rio Olympics.

- Labor of Lovie: Normalcy at Illinois (Sports on Earth)

All we alums really want from Illinois football is competency. We don't want scandals, we don't want crazy hardcore recruiting pushes that inevitably end in some sort of investigation, we don't want to have to start over every three years.

- Big Ten Football 2016: Roundtable Preview (TCR)

Who will be the conference’s offensive and defensive players of the year? What about the most overrated and underrated teams? Check out these predictions from TCR’s writers!