Illini assistants lead practice as Lovie Smith attends HOF ceremony


CHAMPAIGN -- Players practiced in shoulder pads for the first time on day three of Illini training camp, but head coach Lovie Smith wasn't there to see it.

Smith is in Canton, Ohio to support his mentor Tony Dungy and former player Orlando Pace, as they get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"Going into the hall of fame is pretty special," Smith said. "Orlando Pace, I was with him three different places, Ohio State, St. Louis Rams, and Chicago Bears. We're going to go up and watch him be inducted...and of course Tony Dungy. No one has meant more to my career than what Tony Dungy was able to do for me."

Smith admits he'll have Champaign on his mind during the ceremonies.

"Once practice is over, on the way back I assume it will already be downloaded on my IPad. It will be just like I'm there as far as I'm concerned...we have a great coaching staff. They won't miss me at all," Smith said. 

The team returns to practice Sunday (2:30 to 4:30). 

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