Illinois center Doug Kramer is sticking around Champaign for a sixth season, which is good news for Illini fans and new head coach Bruce Bielma.

Kramer, an all-Big Ten selection in 2019 and two-time captain, missed the final two games of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 contact tracing. With the NCAA allowing athletes to retain a year of eligibility regardless of playing time during this season, Bielma will have the benefit of Kramer’s experience for his first year on the Illini sideline.

Kramer explained some of the reasons for his choice to Jeremey Warner of 247Sports.

Bielma’s hiring was an influence on Kramer’s decision, calling it the “final topping” on his returning, adding that his missing games at the end of the season was a factor as well.

Kramer will bring his 37 career starts at Illinois to Bielma’s offensive line, and believes that the Illini’s new coach can surround him with what is needed to win, right away.

Finally, Kramer’s message to the incoming recruiting class is to stick with the plan, and the Illini.