Illinois Football: Top 10 Players In The Last 10 Years

Zacharee CurtisContributor IIIJuly 20, 2011

Illinois Football: Top 10 Players In The Last 10 Years

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    Here are the top 10 University of Illinois football players from the last 10 years! Illinois has had some major ups and downs but have had some really good individual players over the last 10 years. Illinois has only had three winning seasons in that time, but has had a lot of individual talent that hasn't produced as a team that could win. But I'll be focusing on the top 10 players of the last 10 years, not the team.

10: QB Kurt Kittner

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    • Heisman Trophy Candidate
    • Davey O'Brien Award Semifinalist
    • Johnny Unitas Award Semifinalist
    • Has registered 60 percent passing or better in 11 career games, including six games over 70 percent
    • Has thrown for over 250 yards in nine career games and over 300 yards in five contests
    • Has 60 career touchdown passes, which is tops in history
    • Ranks third on the Illinois all-time passing list as well as fhird in career pass completions, second in pass attempts and second in career total offense

9: WR Brandon Lloyd

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    • Earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from both the media and coaches (2001)
    • His 65 grabs ranks fifth on Illinois' all-time single-season chart (2001)
    • His 1,062 yards is fourth on the Illinois single-season list and his 10 TD grabs ties him for first on the Illinois single-season list (2001)
    • Named Second-Team All-Big Ten (2002)
    • Biletnikoff Award Semifinalist (2002)
    • Finished career with a 28-game streak with a catch ... Caught 65 balls for 1,010 in 2002, scoring nine touchdowns
    • Ended career ranked second in the Illinois record books for receiving yardage with 2,583, touchdown catches with 21 and 100-yard receiving games with 12

8: LB J Leman

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    • 2008 Consensus All-America
    • First-Team All-America (by AFCA)
    • First-Team All-America (Football Writers Association)
    • First-Team All-America (CBSSportsline)
    • Second-Team All-America (Walter Camp Foundation)
    • Second-Team All-America (Associated Press)
    • Second-Team All-America (Sports Illustrated)
    • Second-Team All-America (Rivals.com)
    • Second-Team All-America (Phil Steele)
    • First-Team All-Big Ten (by coaches)
    • First-Team All-Big Ten (by media)
    • Ronnie Lott Award Finalist
    • Danny Weurffel Award Finalist
    • Butkus Award Semifinalist
    • Rotary Lombardi Award Semifinalist
    • Chuck Bednarik Award Semifinalist
    • Bronko Nagurski Award Semifinalist
    • 2007 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete
    • Draddy Award Finalist

7: RB Pierre Thomas

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    • Broke the school record for career kickoff return yardage with 1,495 yards
    • Ranks sixth on the Illini career rushing list with 2,545 yards
    • Ranks second on the Illini career all-purpose yardage list with 4,451
    • Posted nine career 100-yard rushing games

6: CB Vontae Davis

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    • 2008 Playboy All-American
    • Preseason First-Team All-America (by The Sporting News)
    • 2008 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Candidate
    • 2008 Chuck Bednarik Award Candidate
    • 2008 Jim Thorpe Award Candidate
    • Preseason Second-Team All-America (by Lindy's)
    • Preseason Third-Team All-America (by Anthlon)
    • Named Big Ten's Best Athlete (by The Sporting News)
    • Rated the No. 14 player in the nation (by The Sporting News)
    • Rated the No. 4 cornerback in the nation (by Lindy's)
    • Preseason First-Team All-Big Ten (by Athlon)
    • Preseason First-Team All-Big Ten (by Blue Ribbon)
    • Preseason First-Team All-Big Ten (by The Sporting News)
    • Rated the No. 2 cornerback in the Big Ten (by The Sporting News)
    • Rated the No. 1 overall 2009 NFL draft prospect (by The Sporting News)
    • 2007 Jim Thorpe Award Semifinalist
    • 2007 First-Team All-Big Ten (by coaches)
    • 2007 Second-Team All-Big Ten (by media)

5: LB Martez Wilson

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    • First-team All-Big Ten selection by media and second team by coaches (2010)
    • Phil Steele's first-team All-Big Ten (2010)
    • 2010 Team Captain
    • Named team's Outstanding Linebacker for 2010 at annual postseason banquet

4: DT Corey Liuget

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    • Fourth-team All-American by Phil Steele (2010)
    • Honorable mention All-American by Pro Football Weekly (2010)
    • Second-team All-Big Ten by coaches and media (2010)
    • Phil Steele's first-team All-Big Ten (2010)
    • 2010 Team Captain and team's Outstanding Defensive Lineman
    • Drafted by the San Diego Chargers with the 18th pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft

3: QB Juice Williams

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    • 2009 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten
    • Set the Illinois all-time total offense record with 10,594 yards
    • Set the Illinois starts record at the quarterback position with 44
    • 2008 Second-Team All-Big Ten
    • Led the Big Ten in passing and total offense in 2008
    • Broke three stadium records for total offense in a game in 2008 (Edward Jones Dome vs. Missouri, at Michigan Stadium, Illinois' Memorial Stadium vs. Minnesota)
    • Led Illinois to Big Ten passing title in 2008 and rushing titles in 2006 and 2007
    • Set Illini season total offense record in 2008
    • Broke team school records for season total offense and rushing in 2007
    • 2007 Honorable Mention All-Big Ten
    • Ranks fifth on the Big Ten career total offense list with 10,594 yards
    • Topped the 8,000-yard mark this year with 8,037 career passing yards, which ranks third on the Illinois all-time list
    • Ranks sixth on the Illinois all-time rushing list with 2,557 yards and is the first non-running back in school history to top the 2,000 yard career rushing mark
    • Ranks second on the Big Ten career rushing yardage list for a quarterback.
    • Rushed for over 100 yards six times in his career
    • Registered 606 pass completions and 1,136 pass attempts which rank fourth and third, respectively, on the all-time list
    • Has thrown 56 career touchdown passes, second on the Illinois list
    • Has recorded 637 career carries, which ranks third in the Illinois record books
    • Is the career Illinois record holder for rushing yards by a quarterback with 2,557

2: RB Rashard Mendanhall

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    • Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (by coaches)
    • Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (by media)
    • Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award winner
    • Third-Team All-America (by Rivals.com)
    • Fourth-Team All-America (by Phil Steele)
    • First-Team All-Big Ten (by coaches)
    • First-Team All-Big Ten (by media)
    • Doak Walker Award Semifinalist
    • Maxwell Award Semifinalist
    • First-Team All-Big Ten (by Rivals.com)
    • ESPN Helmet Sticker (9/22)
    • Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week (9/24)
    • ESPN Helmet Sticker (10/6)
    • Master Coaches Game Ball (10/6)
    • Season Rushing Yards (1,681)
    • Season Scoring (114)
    • Season All-Purpose Yards (1,999)
    • Season Total Touchdowns (19)
    • Season Rushing Touchdowns (17)
    • Season 100-yard Rushing Games (8)
    • Career Yards Per Carry (6.4)

1: RB Mikel LeShoure

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    • College Football Performance Awards Running Back of the Year (2010)
    • Second-team All-American by the Associated Press (2010)
    • Third-team All-American by Rivals.com and Phil Steele (2010)
    • Honorable mention All-American by SI.com and Pro Football Weekly (2010)
    • First-team All-Big Ten by both coaches and media (2010)
    • 2010 Texas Bowl MVP
    • 2010 Team MVP and Most Outstanding Offensive Back
    • RECORDS
      • Illinois season rushing yards (1,697)
      • Illinois season points scored (122)
      • Illinois season total touchdowns (20) and rushing touchdowns (17 - tied with Rashard Mendenhall)
      • Illinois season 100-yard rushing games (9) and consecutive 100-yard rushing games (5)
      • Illinois single-game rushing yards—330 vs. Northwestern at Wrigley Field, 11/20/10
      • Finished sixth on the UI career rushing list (2,557) and second in school history in all-purpose yards (1,893)