Returning Illinois DE Owen Carney: 'The energy in the building has changed'
Illinois fans looking for more reasons to jump aboard the Bret Bielema bandwagon may have gotten exactly what they asked for on Monday.
Defensive end Owen Carney, who recently removed his name from the NCAA transfer portal to return to Illinois for the 2021 season, met with reporters on Monday to discuss his decision. He’s made it quite clear that a lot has changed in the short time Bielema has taken over for Lovie Smith.
“You guys aren’t in the building,” Carney said, per Marlee Wierda of WCIA, “but the aura and the energy in the building has changed.”
Bielema was named the head coach at Illinois just before the Fighting Illini took on Penn State in the final game of the 2020 season. Already, the former Wisconsin and Arkansas head coach has been changing the culture in Champaign.
Getting Carney back on the roster was a huge win for Bielema.
During the 2020 season, Carney totaled 27 tackles and had 5 sacks, a pair of QB hurries and forced a fumble. Even in a shortened season, it was his most productive season with the Fighting Illini.
“I felt like this place truly would be the best option for me and I should finish what I started,” Carney said of his return.
When it comes to Bielema, Carney says that he’s looking forward to seeing how his game can improve under the new head coach. And he thinks, without a doubt, he will.
“He has plans on developing me and I have plans on trusting him,” Carney said.