Ex-Illinois Fighting Illini coach Ron Zook had many faults, but if there's one positive thing to say about him, it's that he had no trouble bringing defensive talent to Champaign. The Illini have had a defensive lineman picked in the first round of the NFL for two years running, but the defense is still expected to be loaded in 2012.
That is reflected in CBSSports.com's Preseason All-Big Ten Team, which was released on Monday morning and features three Illini. Two of the Illini highlighted by CBS come from the defensive line: DE Michael Buchanan and DT Akeem Spence. As pointed out by CBS' Tom Fornelli, Buchanan played in the shadow of Whitney Mercilus last season but finished the year with 7.5 sacks and 64 tackles. Fornelli, meanwhile, praised Spence for being a key cog in the middle of an Illinois defense that is expected to be one of the tops in the Big Ten.
The third Illini member picked by CBS is linebacker Jonathan Brown, who may be the best of the bunch. As a sophomore last season, Brown finished with 108 tackles (19.5 for a loss), six sacks, a pick, a force fumble and four deflections.
The Illini weren't alone when it came to the state of Illinois, though. Northwestern Wildcats safety Ibraheim Campbell was highlighted, as well. As a freshman in 2011, Campbell racked up 100 tackles to go along with two interceptions and four passes broken up.
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