Eight players enroll early this semester for Illinois football team

By Meghan Montemurro

A new semester welcomes early enrollees for the Illinois football team. Eight players – seven freshmen and one transfer – attended class Monday, making them available to participate in spring and winter workouts.

Joining Illinois will be Jeff Allen (Chicago), Reggie Ellis (Washington, D.C.), Jarred Fayson (Tampa, Fla./University of Florida), Mikel LeShoure (Champaign), Whitney Mercilus (Akron, Ohio), Graham Pocic (Lemont, Ill.), Fred Sykes (Tampa, Fla.) and Ashante Williams (Mayfield, Ohio).

“I am excited to have these guys here early,” head coach Ron Zook said in a press release. “This will be a very beneficial experience for these players. It isn’t for everyone, but these eight guys will be able to get accustomed to the schedule of a college athlete while getting acclimated to the academic demands so it won’t be new to them in the fall when the season starts. They will have an opportunity to go through our winter workouts with the returning players and learn the offense and defense during spring ball.”

The newcomers are highlighted by Ellis, the top-rated defensive player in the Washington, D.C., area, who hails from Dunbar High School, following the steps of current Illini Arrelious Benn, Vontae Davis and Nate Bussey. Fayson, a transfer from the University of Florida, was rated as the nation’s third best receiver in the 2006 recruiting class.