They're Two of a Kind Illini Freshmen Jones, Virgil Try to Make It Together

By Willhite, Lindsey | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), August 13, 2001 | Go to article overview

They're Two of a Kind Illini Freshmen Jones, Virgil Try to Make It Together


Willhite, Lindsey, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Lindsey Willhite Daily Herald Sports Writer

CHAMPAIGN - At first glance, Illinois freshmen Abe Jones and Morris Virgil ought to be something less than friends.

As the only tailbacks on the Illini roster other than senior Rocky Harvey and junior Antoineo Harris, they'll fight for playing time from 2002 onward.

But instead of keeping each other at stiff-arm's length, Rolling Meadows' Jones and Urbana's Virgil have become as tight as two people who met in March can be.

When Jones spent a week on Illinois' campus over the summer, he stayed at Virgil's house.

"It was great because his dad can really cook - and I like to eat," Jones said with a wide smile. "Country-style ribs ... a lot of chicken. When I come down here, I'll always stay at Virgil's house."

That's not all. Jones and Virgil roomed together during the freshman minicamp. They're rooming during fall camp. They're scheduled to live together in the dorms.

"Probably for a couple years," Virgil said. "And then after that, we'll get an apartment. We're going to try to keep it together."

Why are Jones and Virgil so eager to stick together? What do they see in each other?

Well, perhaps they see themselves.

Jones and Virgil spent their formative years living in Chicago's less-pleasant neighborhoods, where their fathers were nonfactors in their upbringing.

They both became wards of the foster-care system at the age of 9 - Virgil because his mother died and Jones because his drug-addled mother could no longer "take care" of him.

Both bounced from foster home to foster home for years as they spent more time fighting and stealing than learning.

And in the end, both found safe havens and loving adoptive parents midway through their high school years.

Doug Millsaps, Rolling Meadows' head football coach, and his wife, Mary Beth, gladly took in Jones during the fall of 1999. …

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