Illinois lost a lot of talented players to the NFL Draft, but the cupboard is far from bare in Champaign, and numerous players have been named to Pro Football Focus’ preseason All-Big Ten teams.
Two members of the Illini made the cut for the First Team, with wide receiver Isaiah Williams and defensive lineman Jer’Zhan Newton both earning spots in that elite group.
Williams racked up 82 catches for 715 yards and five touchdowns in Illinois’ offense last season, and with Ole Miss transfer quarterback Luke Altmyer slinging the ball around the field for the Illini, he could put up even better numbers in 2023.
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Newton, one-half of an excellent defensive tackle tandem for Illinois, had 28 solo tackles and 5.5 sacks last season for Illinois, and is being touted as a potential first round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Illinois kicker Caleb Griffin earned second-team honors from PFF, and a trio of defensive standouts earned third-team honors, including Newton’s defensive linemate Keith Randolph Jr.
Illinois will open its season on Sept. 2 with a home game against Toledo, then will travel to Lawrence for a Sept. 8 showdown with the Kansas Jayhawks.