Illini: Starting defensive tackle out for season

John Supinie

A little more than two weeks before the season opener, Illinois' depth on the defensive line is already being put to the test.

Senior defensive tackle Sirod Williams, a starter during Camp Rantoul, is out for the season after damaging the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Williams will undergo surgery as soon as swelling diminishes. He has a redshirt season available and plans to return next season.

The 6-foot, 292-pounder from Garfield Heights, Ohio, suffered the injury during practice Saturday. He wore a brace but didn't use crutches during Monday's scrimmage. Williams started three games as a freshman, played in three as a sophomore and logged time in 12 of the 13 games last fall.

"The defensive line is the strength of our team,'' coach Ron Zook said. "We're working a lot of guys in multiple positions. The fortunate thing is Sirod has a redshirt year. He's such a good guy and a leader, but he understands he has one more year.''

Sophomore Josh Brent is expected to move into the starting lineup, and freshman Corey Liuget is expected to get more playing time. The Illini also used their three top defensive ends together during several snaps in the scrimmage with Derek Walker and Doug Pilcher remaining at end while Will Davis moved inside to tackle.

John Supinie can be reached atJohnsupinie@aol.com.