New face in Ohio Valley Conference leads to scheduling adjustment for Eastern Illinois, other league members

First-year Eastern Illinois head coach Chris Wilkerson’s Panthers host new Ohio Valley Conference member Lindenwood Oct. 15 in Charleston. (photo courtesy Sandy King, EIU Athletics) Perhaps the only thing busier than the transfer portal these days in college football is tracking the ever-changing world of conference membership. The Ohio Valley Conference certainly had seen its... Read more »

Versatile DL Washington blossoms during spring ball for Western Illinois

Defensive lineman Cam Washington (25) was a standout this spring and expects to play a big role in 2022 for Western Illinois. (Photo by GoLeathernecks.com) MACOMB – With only 24 defensive players on the roster this spring, plenty of new faces could be in the lineup Sept. 1 when Western Illinois opens the 2022 football... Read more »

Spring game takeaways spotlight EIU defensive goal for fall season

Sophomore safety Blake Ruffin (4) had two first-half interceptions in Saturday’s Eastern Illinois spring game. (photo courtesy Sandy King, EIU Athletics) CHARLESTON — If there’s a mathematical formula to success, first-year Eastern Illinois head coach Chris Wilkerson thinks he has part of the equation. “The statistics will show you that if you take away 25 possessions... Read more »
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Eastern Illinois offense in a hurry to put 2021 season behind

Eastern Illinois tight end Anthony Manaves (11) fights for extra yardage during Saturday’s spring football game in Charleston. (Photo by Sandy King, EIUPanthers.com) CHARLESTON — Everything the Eastern Illinois offense did Saturday during the annual spring football game had one thing in common – a faster pace. “We’re very up-tempo,” tight end Jay Vallie said.... Read more »

With record-setting players gone, new Western Illinois staff focuses on rebuilding its offense

Western Illinois wrapped up its off-season practices with its annual Bruck Craddock Spring Game Friday night in Macomb. (photo courtesy of @WIUfootball Twitter) MACOMB— Perhaps the old baseball barker calls of “Ya can’t tell the players without a scorecard!” best describes first-year coach Myers Hendrickson’s Western Illinois Leathernecks. Graduation and the transfer portal has left the... Read more »

New Eastern Illinois coach Wilkerson proud to be a softball dad for 'that other school'

Eastern Illinois head football coach Chris Wilkerson celebrates his hiring with daughter Bella, an Illinois State softball player, Jan. 28 in Charleston. (Photo courtesy of Bella Wilkerson) CHARLESTON – Underneath O’Brien Field, past the Ohio Valley Conference championship trophies and the deep blue walls, Chris Wilkerson is surrounded by football in his new office. On... Read more »
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Baker pushing himself & SIU to take the next step

SIU quarterback Nic Baker had a record-setting season for the Salukis in 2021 and will be a key cog in the team’s offense come fall. (Photo by SIUSalukis.com) In many ways, 2021 was a special season for Southern Illinois quarterback Nic Baker. As a sophomore, the downstate Rochester product started all 13 games propelling the... Read more »

No more nerves: Illinois State CB Franky West making the most of his opportunity

Franky West (7) has gone from nervous and raw last season to a key player in Illinois State’s secondary. (Photo by GoRedbirds.com) NORMAL — Having a few butterflies was understandable for Franky West in his first collegiate start last fall. The Normal Community High School grad got the call to start at cornerback Oct. 21... Read more »

New Illinois State QB Annexstad gives passing game a needed boost in spring game

New Illinois State quarterback Zack Annexstad, a transfer from Minnesota, will try to revive an ISU passing game that has 22 TDs in the air over the past 30 games. (Photo by GoRedbirds.com) NORMAL – Zack Annexstad arrived at Illinois State three months ago as the linchpin to improving the Redbirds’ passing offense. Zack Annexstad... Read more »
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Firefighting is a family affair for Illinois State long snapper

Illinois State football player Peyton Cramer (left) responded to his first fire call Dec. 25 as a member of the Saunemin fire department, where his father, Craig, is the assistant chief. (Photo courtesy of the Cramer family) Between practices, workouts and games, football keeps Illinois State long snapper Peyton Cramer quite busy. “Playing college football... Read more »