CHAMPAIGN-- Corey Lewis isn't walking through that door, but everyone else is.
Once billed as young and inexperienced, the Illinois offensive line is now one of the most experienced units on the team.
"We've got three 5th year seniors. You don't really see that much in the Big Ten at all, " said Junior lineman Ted Karras.
Karras, along with the aforementioned seniors Simon Cvijanovic, Alex Hill, and Michael Heitz, combined for 43 starts last year.
"It means a lot," said Karras. "O-line is one of those positions where continuity is a big deal, and we're excited about it."
Junior RB Josh Ferguson is one of the guys who could benefit the most from that experience up front.
"Definitely experienced in the trenches. We feel comfortable with those guys, we know they'll get the job done this year." Said Ferguson, who rushed for 779 yards on 141 carries last season.
Illinois took a big step forward offensively last season, in Bill Cubit's first year as offensive coordinator. They averaged over 426 yards per game. Senior lineman Michael Heitz knows the improved play of the offensive line was a big factor.
"The offense looks at us as leaders," said Heitz. "We try to put it on ourselves to be the leaders."