Chicago Sun-Times
With Sun-Times sports reporter Herb Gould

Recently in Trulon Henry Category

            Intent on reviving an lllinois football program that went 2-10 in his first season, coach Tim Beckman announced the signing of five junior-college players on Wednesday.

            One of the recruits, 290-pound defensive tackle Abe Cajuste, could come in handy. Junior Akeem Spence is expected to announce he will forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft this week.

            Linebacker Jonathan Brown, who also has a bright pro future, has decided to return for his senior season after struggling through an injury-filled 2012 campaign.

            Cajuste, from Miami, Fla., by way of Victor Valley (Calif.) College, ``gives us a big body on the defensive line,'' Beckman said. ``He will help add depth with the departure of several key seniors from the line.''

            Illinois will lose 7-1/2 starters on defense, including all but one co-starter, Tim Kynard, on the defensive line. It could return nine starters on offense, but is losing its two best linemen, Graham Pocic and Hugh Thornton.

            Beckman is expected to bring in approximately 28 players, including JuCos and high-school signees during this recruiting season.

            Two of the junior-college signees are defensive backs from California: safety Zane Petty, from American River College, and star (hybrid safety/linebacker) Eric Finney, from College of the Canyons.

            Illinois has not gone the junior-college route often since Mike White ran a successful California junior-college pipeline in the '80s. Since then, two of Illinois' most prominent JuCos have been defensive backs--Trulon Henry, who completed his career a year ago, and Kelvin Hayden, who played in Champaign in 2003-04 and is now with the Bears.

            The other two signees are offensive players: wide receiver Martize Barr, from Washington, D.C., by way of New Mexico and Iowa Western C.C.; and lineman Dallas Hinkhouse, also from Iowa Western.

            Beckman opted to postpone a press briefing until next month, when up to five high-school recruits are expected to enroll at Illinois to participate in spring practice. The new coach enthusiastically welcomed the junior-college signees in a statement, though.

            ``The most exciting part is that they fill immediate needs for us,'' Beckman said. ``They all play a different position of need and are spread across all areas of the team. The fact that we were able to go throughout the country and sell Illinois football to these young men and their families shows the work ethic and commitment from our staff.''


Senior safety Trulon Henry, the older brother of former wide receiver Arrelious Benn, was shot in the hand at an off-campus party early Sunday and will be sidelined for the rest of the season, Illini coach Ron Zook said.
Two other unidentified men also were wounded when shots were fired during a fight that broke out at the party.
Henry wasn't planning to attend the party, but went there to give a ride home to five or six teammates who wanted to leave an increasingly unruly scene, Zook said, adding that Henry was wounded when he attempted to play peacemaker.
``I spoke with Trulon, he called me around 4:30 or 5 a.m. and apologized,'' Zook said. ``He said all he was trying to do was help. He's a team leader, he's trying to help, and he ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time.''
Zook said he was informed of the incident, in which shots broke out during a fight at the party, at about 3 a.m., shortly after it took place. Henry, who was shot in a ring finger, underwent surgery for the wound.
``When the phone rings at that hour, you know it's not good,'' Zook said, adding that he's not planning disciplinary action. ``This is the first issue we've had like this, with a curfew thing. It was late. I'm not going to deny that. But most college football teams don't normally have a curfew on Saturday night.''
Henry's brother, Benn, is the most high-profile recruit Zook has brought to Illinois. He now plays for Tampa Bay, which made him a second-round pick in 2010,
Henry, 27, who lives with his wife and daughter in Champaign, played at College of DuPage before transferring to Illinois. Since serving a four-year prison sentence for the armed robbery of a bank branch in a supermarket in Washington, D.C., Henry has been a model citizen.
Although it appears that Henry's college career is over, Zook said Henry is expected to make a full recovery, which will enable him to pursue a pro career.
This is the second time in three years that an Illinois football player has been wounded in a peacemaking role. Martez Wilson, a star linebacker from Simeon who now plays for New Orleans, was hospitalized in December, 2008, with stab wounds in the stomach and back after coming to the aid of former teammate D'Angelo McCray, who was being beaten outside a Champaign tavern.

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