Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 12/23/11

Illinois football announced today that senior running back Jason Ford and redshirt freshman wide receiver Jake Kumerow are academically ineligible under NCAA rules and will not participate in the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl versus UCLA on New Year’s Eve in San Francisco.

Ford is the Illini leading rusher this year with 600 yards on 155 carries (3.9 ypc) and seven touchdowns. He finishes his career 1,962 career rushing yards, which ranks 16th on the all-time Illinois rushing list, and 26 career rushing touchdowns, second in Illinois history behind only Howard Griffith (31).

This really isn’t that big of a loss for Illinois though. In fact, no Ford could be addition by subtraction.

Ford’s TD numbers are greatly inflated as his size warranted a lot more carries in goal line situations than all the other backs who played at Illinois during his four years. Also Ford has shown a tendency to be fumble prone in key situations.

Unfortunately, the Illini will be awfully thin at running back as sophomore Jay Prosch will be out with a staph infection. Prosch was just released from the hospital a few days ago, and his staph infection was quite serious. Prosch is rather obscure, but he’s very good at what he does. NFL scouts rank him the top fullback prospect in the class of 2014.

The Illini will have to split the carries between Troy Pollard and Donovonn Young, which might be an upgrade over Ford. Both backs ran for over 400 yards and had a much better yards-per-carry this season. Pollard ran for 7.5, Young 5.4.

Kumerow isn’t much of a loss, he had just three catches for 15 yards on the season, all of which came in garbage time of the regular season finale blowout loss to the Minnesota on Nov. 26.

The Illini will face UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 31 at AT&T Park (12:30 pm PST / 2:30 CST, ESPN).

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio shows all across the world. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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