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Can't Wait For Saturday | Time to get back into football mode, looking ahead to spring session and a potentially big Illini draft day

Apr. 1—Now that the college basketball season is mostly over, I am able to turn my full attention back to the point of my daily work: college football.

To that end, two areas will occupy my time in the coming weeks: Illinois spring practices, which are underway, and the late April NFL draft.

More on practice later in the week in this space. I will have a chance to talk to the players and coaches in the coming days. The availability was scaled back during the NCAA tournament because most of the folks on the beat were out of town with basketball.

Bret Bielema's fifth spring session ends with the annual scrimmage on April 20.

The next weekend, six or more Illinois players will get the call in the NFL draft. Defensive tackles Johnny Newton and Keith Randolph, offensive linemen Juuian Pearl and Isaiah Adams, tight end Tip Reiman and receiver Isaiah Williams should get a call during the three-day talentfest.

Another 2023 Illini, receiver Casey Washigton, turned heads at the team's pro timing day in March, posting stellar workout numbers. Put him on the list of Bret Bielema's guys who will be in an NFL camp later in the summer.

Last year, Illinois had a certain first-round draft pick in cornerback Devon Witherspoon. This time, is is not a for sure thogh Newton is part of the first-round conversation. He will likely be the first Illni to hear his name called.

Adams might be next. I've been asked about the junior college transfer and will turn in my take on him later this week.

Adams seems capable of having a lengthy NFL career. Like the one three-time Super Bowl champion Nick Allegretti is in the middle of now.

Illinois has again become a place where the NFL looks for offensive linemen, Tat is a helpful thing for Bielema as he tries to build a consistent winner.

Stay turned. More draft and spring ball reports coming soon.