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Deadheads guide to Illinois Football in 2019

Comparing our favorite Grateful Dead songs to the 2019 football roster.

Ticket stub from Grateful Dead’s performance at Assembly Hall(12/2/81).

As I was jamming to some Grateful Dead tunes on my way back from seeing “Dead and Company” (the latest off-shoot of the Grateful Dead, featuring John Mayer), I had the idea to put together a list comparing Illinois football players to some of my favorite Grateful Dead songs.

While the two subjects couldn’t be more different, I’ve always felt that music and sports tell similar stories. So, here is 2019 Illinois Football as Grateful Dead songs.

Reggie Corbin - “Touch of Grey”

Corbin fits this dead classic very well. Touch of Grey is the probably the most popular Grateful Dead song, and Corbin is without a doubt popular Illini Football player after his 1,085 rushing yards last year. Touch of Grey was also the Grateful Dead’s first song to reach the billboard top 10, and Corbin similarly will have a chance to be a top-10 all-time rusher in Illinois history.

Brandon Peters - “Help on the Way/Slipknot!”

Peters comes to Champaign in a time of desperate need for a Quarterback. Peters is the help on the way but like the second half of the song (Slipknot!), we don’t know the direction he will carry the team.

This is assuming he’s on the team!

Luke Ford - “Deal”

“Since it costs a lot to win, and even more to lose.” Illinois got the bad end of the NCAA immediate eligibility ruling, and even after spending more money appealing the ruling, they still lost.

Mike Epstein - “Truckin’”

Mike Epstein has had the longest, strangest, journey of anyone on the team. Let’s start with the fact that he originally had committed to the play for the Beckman/Cubit campaign. Epstein tore his ACL before he took the field with the Illini at St. Thomas Aquinas High school. Finally, as an Illini, Epstein has sustained two injuries but hopefully will make a full recovery this year and make his trip just a little less strange.

Jamal Milan - “St. Stephen”

“St. Stephen,” tells the story of the saint who prospered despite having hardships. Milan fits this song because he has been the bedrock to the defense and succeeded despite being on Illinois teams that have struggled the last four years. I find this quote fitting for those past four years: “Wherever he goes, the people all complain”

Nate Hobbs - “Bertha”

“Don’t come around here anymore.” - Hobbs, after locking down a receiver.

Isaiah Willams - “Estimated Prophet”

Estimated Prophet is about a prophet who has a vision that he will lead mankind to fortunes but the vision is just a figment of his imagination. Williams is the coveted recruit who Illinois fans have been waiting for to lead the Illini back to bowl eligibility. Hopefully Williams can follow threw on that dream, but for now, he’s just an estimated prophet.

Isaiah Gay and Owen Carney - “Drums/Space”

Drums and Space are a staple to any Grateful Dead concert. It’s the point in the concert where drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann put together a chaotic jam. Gay and Carney will have to bring that same kind of energy to the defensive line and be the staple to Lovie’s defense.

Marquez Beason - “Box of Rain”

Box of Rain has always been a song of hope. The song was originally composed by bassist Phil Lesh and lyricist Robert Hunter about Lesh’s dying father, but the song has felt like an ode to the future to me and thus is perfect for Beason. Beason represents a similar hope that the Illini can continue to get top talent that can turn the program around.

Lovie Smith - “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad”

This one is self-explanatory. Smith has gone 9-27 with only four conference wins in his three-year tenure. Illini fans are sick of being “treated this old way.”