Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Considering what happened to Sirod Williams the last time he suited up at Camp Rantoul, you wouldn't blame the Illinois defensive tackle if he avoided the place at all costs.
Williams' 2008 season ended before it started last August in Rantoul, as he tore his right ACL during drills. The projected starter underwent surgery and sat out until spring ball.
Despite the bad memory, Williams will be among the first players to board the team bus Aug. 10 when Illinois makes the short trip from Champaign to Rantoul.
"I just can't wait," Williams said. "The spring game gave me a little taste. I'm really looking forward to camp this year. And that's a new one."
As a fifth-year senior, Williams has been through the rigors of camp before. But at least he'll be able to hit people, and it beats the summer grind.
"Summertime with the conditioning, it's not my forte," Williams admits.
Most 295-pound defensive linemen would agree.
Illinois is pleased to have all that bulk back in the middle of the defensive line. The team loses starting ends Derek Walker and Will Davis, as well as tackle David Lindquist.
Williams rejoins what figures to be a very strong rotation of tackles. Corey Liuget performed well as a true freshman, recording five tackles for loss, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Josh Brent also is expected to be reinstated after serving jail time earlier this summer for drunken driving.
"Playing with Corey during the spring game, we really built a little chemistry," said Williams, who appeared in 12 games in 2008, recording a forced fumble and a pass breakup. "I think it will be very good with me, Corey and Josh Brent inside."
Williams participated in limited fashion throughout spring ball and was fully cleared following the Orange and Blue game. Though he still rehabs the knee daily, he has no concerns about pushing himself in Rantoul.
"I've only been hurt playing football like once, so there's really nothing to be worried about," he said. "I think I'll be able to catch on and find a rhythm pretty quickly. The goals are just play to the best of my abilities, don't take any plays off and hopefully, I can get a couple of sacks this year."