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    FlutieFlakes

    [2020] Ezekiel Adams inducted into Illinois Ring of Honor

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    CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS - Former football player Ezekiel Adams became the first Illinois athlete to be inducted into the school's Ring of Honor on last Saturday. The ceremony took place at Memorial Stadium before the Northwestern - Illinois football game (Week 16 of the 2020 football season). Adams was honored in front of tens of thousands of fans who showed that they still love him just as much as a few years ago when he was an active player.

     

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    Adams in action versus rival Northwestern

     

    One-man army

     

    When Adams came to Illinois in 2014 he found himself on a team that had very little talent, especially compared to the powerhouse teams of the Big Ten. He didn't have the opportunity to sit a year and learn from a veteran back; instead he was thrown into the action as a true freshman. Soon it became clear that he has what it takes to carry the load for the offense; even though the program wasn't successful in the beginning, Adams served as a lone bright spot on the offense. He rushed for more than 900 yards as a true freshman, and established himself as the starting running back for the Illini for the years to come.

     

     

    From Bottom-feeders to the Bourbon Bowl

     

    Illinois didn't become more talented in 2015, but they acquired a new coach, as smokingcricket took over in Champaign. What happened after is history: Adams took the team on his back and carried it to a completely unexpected 9-4 record, a victory in the postseason, and a spot in the final Coaches' Poll. He racked up more than 1400 rushing yards and 16 TDs in the process; not bad for a running back who was never on the radar of NFL scouts. When asked about how he remembers that magical season Adams replied: "Oh I will cherish those memories forever. That team didn't have any stars or anything like that, but somehow I kept gaining yards and we kept winning. I'm thankful to my teammates and coaches for that year, it was a dream coming true".

     

     

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    Adams breaks the B1G all-time rushing record vs Minnesota in 2017

     

     

    Into the record books

     

    Unfortunately Illinois' magic has run out, and the team has struggled in 2016 and 2017. However, that didn't stop Adams from having two 1000+ yard seasons, and to have some insane performances like the game against Nebraska in 2016 where he rushed for 200+ yards and 4 touchdowns. After 4 years as a starter at RB Ezekiel has finished his college career, as he graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Biology. He has been a cornerstone of the team in every season, someone to look up to on and off the field. Many of the current Illinois players are at the program because of the 2015 season which would have gone very differently without Adams. There is no question that he has been the most impactful player in Fighting Illini football history, so it is well-deserved that he is the first athlete to be inducted into the Illinois Ring of Honor.

     

     

    Career Statistics and Honors:

     

    2014: 11 games, 902 rushing yards, 1 TD; 1 catch for 10 yards
    2015: 13 games, 1434 rushing yards, 16 TD; 2 catches for 17 yards
    2016: 12 games, 1475 rushing yards, 14 TD; 3 catches for 27 yards
    2017: 11 games, 1259 rushing yards, 9 TD; 6 catches for 79 yards

    Career: 47 games, 5070 rushing yards, 40 TD; 12 catches 133 yards

     

    All-B1G Selection (2016)

    1-time National Offensive Player of the Week (2016)

    Bourbon Bowl Champion (2015)

    All-time Big Ten rushing leader (5070 rushing yards)

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