Illini to spend an extra week training at Camp Rantoul
Camp Rantoul became a regular event for Illinois football under former coach Ron Turner. When coach Ron Zook took over before the 2005 season, he loved the chance to take the team away from campus in a sequestered environment on the former Chanute Air Force base in the town 15 miles to the north.
Before Illinois meets Missouri in the Aug. 30 version of the Braggin' Rights game and heads into a season filled with anticipation, the Illini return to Camp Rantoul. This season, thanks to a quirk in the schedule, the Illini will spend three -- not two -- weeks there.
"With the way the calendar falls, it gives you the opportunity to stay there for another week,'' Zook said. "I'm the only one excited about that.''
The summer semester ends Saturday, and the fall semester doesn't begin until Aug. 25. So the Illini will remain encamped in Rantoul, where the dorm, cafeteria, locker room, weight room and practice fields all sit together in a cluster just south of town on U.S. Route 45. Three weeks sounds like a long time.
"I know one person excited about it,'' senior center Ryan McDonald said. "It's coach Zook. Nobody else.''
Things could get a little ripe.
"The thing I'm concerned about is not getting back and washing clothes,'' McDonald said. "You bring as many T-shirts and shorts as you have. The clean pile is in the bag. The dirty pile is on the floor. The dirty pile builds and builds, then there's nothing left in the clean bag. You have to go back to the dirty pile.''
Players get Sundays off, but they will spend part of an afternoon during the off day at the Fan Appreciation Day on Aug. 17.
The other change in scheduling came with the scrimmages. Illinois won't scrimmage at Rantoul High School on the first Saturday evening of camp, as they've done in previous seasons. The Illini will scrimmage with officials on the Camp Rantoul practice fields on Aug. 11 (the evening practice) and Aug. 19. Another scrimmage in Memorial Stadium is closed to the public.
The team meets the media on Sunday. Zook splits the squad into two groups the first three days, spreading more time in the drill work throughout the roster. The players are on the field for the same amount, but the coaches are working double duty.
The first day in pads is Thursday. Illinois has six double-session days scheduled. On Wednesday, the Illini spend time with a Navy pilot Zook met on U.S.S. John C. Stennis during a visit to the aircraft carrier in late May.
The Illini break Camp Rantoul on Aug 22. Practices in Camp Rantoul are open to the public with no admission charge. A lawn chair and perhaps an umbrella for shade are recommended.
John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com.
Camp Rantoul practice schedule:
Monday: 2:30 p.m., 4:15 pm.
Tuesday: 2:30 p.m., 4:15 p.m.
Wednesday: 2:30 p.m., 4.15 p.m.
Thursday: 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 8: 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 9: 8:05 a.m., 6:15 p.m.
Aug. 10: off
Aug. 11: 8:05 a.m., 6:15 p.m. (scrimmage)
Aug. 12: 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 13: 8:05 a.m., 6:15 p.m.
Aug. 14: 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 15: 8:05 a.m., 6:15 p.m.
Aug. 16: TBA (closed to public)
Aug. 17: Fan Appreciation Day
Aug. 18: 8:05 a.m., 6:15 p.m.
Aug. 19: 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 20: 8:05 a.m., 6:15 p.m.
Aug. 21: 3:30 p.m.
Aug. 22: 3:30 p.m.