University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) officials announced today that Fighting Illini great Scott Davis will return to Champaign-Urbana for the Illinois Renaissance celebration game against Eastern Illinois Sept. 6. Davis joins a long list of legendary Illinois players who will be on hand for the 2008 home opener, when fans will get their first look at the newly finished stadium.
"It will be fantastic to see familiar faces from the past, most of whom I have not seen in 20 or so years," Davis said. "When I heard that Coach Mike White would be attending, I swear, I sprang from my chair, began jogging in place followed by some up-downs and a few bear crawls. Once football is in your blood, apparently it's there for life. Coach White was a positive and instrumental figure and had a tremendous impact on a young athlete from Plainfield. I continue to owe him deep gratitude. I'm looking forward to a memorable weekend with old friends, but when it's all said and done, it's really an honor just to be invited."
Davis was selected as one of the 10 greatest defensive linemen in Illinois history as released by the DIA on June 6. A large number of the Fighting Illini greats already have indicated they will be returning to campus for the event and more names will be revealed as the game draws near.
Davis earned honorable mention All-America and first team All-Big Ten honors in 1987 when he racked up 10 quarterback sacks, a total that was the school record at the time and still ranks fourth on the Illinois single season sacks list. His career total of 23 sacks was also a school record and currently sits second on the Illinois all-time list behind only Simeon Rice's career sacks record of 44.5. Davis also ranks seventh on the UI career tackles-for-loss list with 35.
A team captain in 1986, Davis helped lead the Fighting Illini to the 1985 Peach Bowl. He was selected in the first round of the 1988 NFL Draft (25th pick overall) by the Los Angeles Raiders and played five seasons for the Raiders (1988-91 and 1994), racking up 27.5 career sacks.
The Illinois Renaissance celebration will be highlighted by the return of a multitude of former Fighting Illini players, with the list of 10 greatest Illini in school history at each position being honored during eight breaks throughout the game. The current team also will honor past greats by donning throwback uniforms modeled in the style of the Butkus era. Illinois will take on Eastern Illinois Sept. 6 at 11 a.m. The Big Ten Network will nationally televise the game.
"Now that I have had some time to consider the festivities surrounding the September 6th weekend I'm increasingly excited about coming down to see the Fighting Illini kick off a new season," Davis said. "It will be the first college game I have seen in person in 20 years. Thinking back, I truly miss the energy of the stadium filled with 70,000 Illinois fans and can't wait to be part of it again. I also understand there have been some impressive new additions to the stadium which I am sure will serve as a phenomenal backdrop as the Illini move through another winning season."