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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Be sure to check the blog Wednesday for a full Q&A with Illinois quarterback Juice Williams, but I wanted to post an early nugget from Williams about his teammate, linebacker Martez Wilson.
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|Martez Wilson should be able to participate in spring football.|
Williams mentioned Wilson as one of several Illini players who has claimed a greater leadership role and a renewed attitude during the offseason.
Wilson, an immensely talented sophomore, faced some obstacles on and off the field in 2008. His numbers were decent but not what many had expected -- 73 tackles, three sacks, five quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries -- and he missed the season finale at Northwestern after being suspended for violating team rules.
Then, several weeks after the season, Wilson was stabbed outside a bar near the Illinois campus after coming to the aid of former Illini teammate D'Angelo McCray. Wilson underwent surgery for two stab wounds and spent several days hospitalized.
"I don't know what's in Martez's blood, but it's like he can't be down for long," Williams said. "Obviously, he went through the incident a couple months ago and he's recovered very quickly. He still has a bruise there, but I think he's going to be fine for spring ball."
A healthy and focused Wilson could mean a big boost for an Illinois defense that loses first-team All-Big Ten honorees Brit Miller and Vontae Davis.