Derek Dimke is the Illinois placekicker until somebody beats him out. Thus far, the junior from Rockford Boylan High School gave little room for anyone else to grab the job during spring drills, and he would remain there "as long as he keeps kicking (well),'' coach Ron Zook said.

Derek Dimke is the Illinois placekicker until somebody beats him out.

Thus far, the junior from Rockford Boylan High School gave little room for anyone else to grab the job during spring drills, and he would remain there "as long as he keeps kicking (well),'' coach Ron Zook said.

With the spring game Saturday (1 p.m.), Dimke built on the momentum after taking over the placekicking chores for the final three games a year ago. Dimke also handled the kickoff duties all season.

"Other than one day last week, he's kicked extremely well this spring,'' Zook said.

After replacing Matt Eller midway through the loss at Purdue, Dimke wasn't called again for duty until week 10 against Northwestern. The 6-foot, 180-pounder was 5-for-5 on field goals and made all 12 extra-point kicks last season. His longest kick was a 48-yarder at Cincinnati, where Dimke was 3-for-3 and earned special teams player of the week in the Big Ten.

Dimke also averaged 63.3 yards per kickoff with 13 touchbacks.

"I'm trying to help the team any way I can, if that means field goals or just kickoffs,'' Dimke said. "Whatever coach wants me to do, that's what I'm going to do. It doesn't matter how many you make or miss. You have to keep getting better.''

A junior on scholarship like Dimke, Eller ranks 10th all-time at Illinois with 19 field goals, but he slumped in midseason and struggled to find answers. He ended the season 4 for 11 on field goal attempts. Zook said Eller is also kicking well this spring.

"He got that solved,'' Zook said. "We're fortunate to have two guys who are pretty good.''

Nevertheless, Dimke gave Zook no reason to make a change.

John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com.