CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND) -- The "Fighting Illini Spirit Award" is given to the male and female athlete that best exemplifies the combination of on- and off-the-field qualities that best represent the university.
It was an incredible year for local athletes in that regard -- the candidates were so strong that the school named three instead of two. Two of those three winners are stars with local ties.
RB/KR Dre Brown (Football)
- Brown was born in Macon County and starred at DeKalb High School before tearing both ACLs in back-to-back years. He rebounded to be named team Offensive MVP and was the No. 1 rated kick returner in the Big Ten this past season according to Pro Football Focus. Brown is the cousin of current MacArthur quarterback Deyon Jackson.
G Taylor Edwards (Basketball)
- Edwards has few peers in the country in terms of her versatility. She had a standout softball career for the Illini after graduating from Arcola, then this past year she joined coach Nancy Fahey's basketball program where she was applauded for her effort in practice.
G Andres Feliz (Basketball)
- Feliz became a fan favorite in his two years at Illinois thanks to his gutsy play and ability to score a clutch basket when the team needs it most. Feliz also impressed coaches with his work ethic and attitude off the court. At a radio appearance in Decatur prior to the 2019-20 season head coach Brad Underwood said there was a stretch over the summer where Feliz was the team's best player. He has overcome the language barrier to thrive at one of the nation's premier public universities.