Illini get much needed boost to the return game in NIU transfer

Illini get much needed boost to the return game in NIU transfer

Illini Coach Tim Beckman landed a pretty important although bound to be somewhat overlooked recruit today. It’s the ultimate needs-based pick up. Yuo can easily say without hyperbole that Illinois had the worst special teams in all of college football last year. Aside from the placekicking, it was all around atrocious and cost them a win at Penn State, and probably another two games as well.

The return game was stunningly bad, but it got a nice boost in defensive back and kick returner Tommy Davis, who will transfer to Illinois for the 2012 season after spending the last four years at Northern Illinois University.

Davis earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies from NIU in May. He is already enrolled at Illinois for summer classes, where he will work toward a master’s degree in education policy, organization and leadership (EPOL). Davis will be immediately eligible to play at Illinois this fall.

Davis was twice named to the All-MAC team as a return specialist (2009-10) and also made a big impact as a free safety, racking up 111 tackles over the last two seasons. In 2010, Davis shared the MAC lead with four fumble recoveries, while his 73 tackles that season were fourth-most on the team. During his career at NIU, Davis played in 41 games and made 19 starts. He’s one of the best return men in Huskie history, ranking third in the NIU career record book in both kickoff returns (61) and kickoff return yards (1,398), while also ranking in the top-10 in kickoff return average (22.9),punt returns (44), punt return yards (331) and punt return average (7.5).

He returned two kickoffs touchdowns in his career, taking one back 86 yards against Eastern Michigan in 2009 and 83 yards against Toledo in 2010. Davis had two of the best games of his career in 2010 against Illinois on Sept. 18 (career-high 10 tackles) and against a Tim Beckman-led Toledo team on Nov. 9 (nine tackles, one PBU and an 83-yard kickoff return for TD).

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago, Fox Sports, MSN, Walter Football and Yardbarker

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