Big Ten: Walt Aikens

Illinois has issued its post-spring depth chart, although the list includes one player who likely won't suit up this fall. There's no official link available, but The (Champaign) News-Gazette has the rundown.

Junior offensive tackle Corey Lewis, a contender for a starting spot on the strong side opposite Jeff Allen, suffered a torn ACL in Saturday's spring game and will undergo surgery in the near future. Lewis is listed as the starting strong-side tackle on the post-spring two-deep, but Ryan Palmer now moves into the top spot. Keep in mind that Illinois will use an unbalanced line with strongside and weak side guards and tackles.

Other depth chart nuggets:

  • Nathan Scheelhaase and Jacob Charest are listed as co-starters at quarterback, although it's clear that Scheelhaase emerged from spring ball as the frontrunner for the job.
  • Walt Aikens, indefinitely suspended following his arrest Friday on felony possession of stolen property charges, is listed as the backup strong safety behind Travon Bellamy.
  • Mikel LeShoure is the No. 1 running back ahead of Jason Ford, and while both players will get their share of touches this fall, LeShoure has a chance to be special if he can build on his performance from late last season.
  • It's interesting that veteran Clay Nurse is listed as a co-starter at defensive end with sophomore Whitney Mercilus. Nurse underwent offseason shoulder surgery and did everything but full contact drills this spring. Head coach Ron Zook praised Nurse's play and calls him a leader on defense, so Mercilus must have really made an impression.
  • Zook singled out defensive tackles Akeem Spence, Glenn Foster and Daryle Ballew for their play this spring, and it's reflected on the depth chart. Foster is listed as a starter at one spot, while Spence and Ballew are co-backups behind veteran Corey Liuget.
  • Michael Buchanan is the starter at the new "Bandit" position, a rush end or linebacker-end hybrid, ahead of Nate Palmer.
  • Derek Dimke is listed as the starting placekicker ahead of Matt Eller, although the competition should continue there.
  • The starting wide receivers are Jarred Fayson, A.J. Jenkins and converted quarterback Eddie McGee. Offensive coordinator Paul Petrino called Jenkins the team's No. 1 wideout this spring.

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