The first week of practice was originally scheduled to be on the field turf in Memorial Stadium, but snowfall earlier this week pushed the first two indoors and remained on the ground days later. Given the big plans and in an attempt to maximize the showcase, coach Tim Beckman said the team will be in Memorial Stadium as scheduled Saturday.
"We're doing it. Yeah I'll shovel (snow) if we've got to get outside," he said. "We've got to get outside."
"We've been having some great junior days, no question about it," Beckman said. "One of the things that we do that's very, very unique and I can't say it enough -- our wives and our children do an outstanding job of showing that this program is not just about x's and o's, but it really is about family. We've got a great group of people involved in this program."
Saturday marks the first of four practices open to the public (five if you count the Spring Game April 12). There will be two more open practices in Champaign, each on a Friday (March 15, April 5), held under the lights at 5:30 p.m. A third practice, held March 29 at Gately Stadium in Chicago, will also be open to the public.
"They're open to the public, they're open to the press," Beckman said. "Of course anybody that wants to come watch them play, 2014 recruits they're welcome, too, because we want anybody here that wants to watch them play."
Thus far, spring practice has brought forth a wealth of disparaging news. Wideout Darius Millines was suspended for a violation of team rules, offensive line coach Jim Bridge left for Purdue, and it was revealed kicker Nick Immekus left the team in the offseason.
Still, Beckman said he was pleased with what he saw in the first two practices and likes the progression his team has made.
"These kids, they've worked extremely hard through the winter," he said. "It's good to be on the football field playing football now. Just proud of them. Their mindset and work ethic has been exceptional."