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Owen Carney Jr. opts out of transfer portal, returns to Illinois for 2021

Happy Football Sunday, Illini fans.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Just weeks removed from being selected All-Big Ten Second Team and opting into the transfer portal for his final year of eligibility, Owen Carney Jr. is running it back in Champaign-Urbana.

Carney announced his decision to return on Sunday afternoon and gives new defensive coordinator Ryan Walters much-needed experience on the defensive front. The Miami native has appeared in over 40 games in his Illini career and finished 3rd in the Big Ten last season in sacks with three coming against Purdue.

No. 99 joins a long list of fellow Illini that decided to return for head coach Bret Bielema’s first year including Isaiah Gay, Daniel Barker, Jamal Woods, Blake Hayes, James McCourt, Brandon Peters, Vederian Lowe, Doug Kramer and Alex Palczewski.