Illinois football coach Ron Zook doesn't have a problem with sophomore linebacker Martez Wilson's behavior in an early-Friday incident that left him hospitalized with two stab wounds that required surgery.

Illinois football coach Ron Zook doesn't have a problem with sophomore linebacker Martez Wilson's behavior in an early-Friday incident that left him hospitalized with two stab wounds that required surgery.

In fact, Zook approved of how Wilson acted when he reportedly saw former teammate D'Angelo McCray being beaten by a group of men.

"If a friend was in dire need, would you go help him?'' Zook said. "I wish he wasn't out that late, but I was out that late when I was his age. The person he saved was glad (Wilson) was out. I feel pretty good that I have an idea of what happened.

"You want your players to help a person in distress. He did exactly what you'd want him to do.''

Wilson, 20, had surgery early Friday morning after the stabbing outside of the Fubar on Green Street at about 2 a.m. He is expected to make a full recovery.

"That's the first thing I asked,'' Zook said. "It was the dreaded call at 3 a.m. Your heart stops.''

Wilson may remain in Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana until the middle of next week. The football team held its annual banquet Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.

McCray was a highly touted defensive tackle from Florida who spent a redshirt season at Illinois before transferring to Eastern Illinois before this season.

According to Champaign police, Wilson was leaving the bar when he noticed an altercation. He was assisting a man surrounded by a group of men when he was stabbed. Champaign police haven't announced an arrest in the case, and the investigation is ongoing.

There are two campus establishments off-limits to players. Fubar could become the third, Zook said. An incident outside the bar led to the dismissal of guard Jamar Smith from the Illinois basketball team this summer.

"I tell my daughters all the time, 'Nothing good happens after midnight,' '' Zook said. "It's pretty hard to have a curfew out of season. At the same time, they have to grow up on their own, too.''

Wilson didn't play in the season finale against Northwestern while serving a one-game suspension for undisclosed reasons.

"Everybody wants to talk about the last game and the suspension,'' Zook said. "He was suspended, and everyone wants to think he's a bad kid. I try to discipline the guys and have them do the right thing. That doesn't make him a bad kid.''

John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com.