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Maturity Key To 2016 Redbird Football


Illinois State University head football coach Brock Spack is without some key veteran offensive performers that highlighted two co-Missouri Valley Football Conference championship seasons. But he's hopeful the overall version of Redbird football for 2016 can be just as competitive, if not more so.

Gone are all-conference tailback Marshaun Coprich and quarterback Tre Roberson. Taking over calling the signals is sophomore Jake Kolbe, who saw a little action filling in late last season.

"These are smart guys. They're mature. They're hard workers," said Spack during GLT's Sound Ideas. "We're more team oriented. We may not have a bunch of superstars but we have a bunch of guys who are very good college players," he added.

The Redbirds kick off the home season Saturday Sept. 3 against non-conference foe Valparaiso.

"They're a team that's improving," said Spack of the Crusaders, who finished 1-9 last season.

Illinois State travels to Evanston to meet Big Ten member Northwestern September 10th. Spack says the team will go into that game with every intention of winning.

About the upcoming season, Spack says winning a national title is still a goal. The Redbirds made it to the Football Championship Series title game following the 2014 season, only to lose in the final seconds to now five-time defending champion North Dakota State.

"We have a chance to do that, but we'll have to get better and develop during the season. I think this team will improve because they have a very good work ethic and they're tough, mentally and physically," Spack said.

Illinois State is ranked 8th in the pre-season FCS coaches poll. They are among five MVFC teams ranked in the top 25.

Willis is a Bloomington, IL, native. During his senior year at Bloomington High School, he finished third in the "Radio Speaking" division of the state speech contest, the only year he competed.