Urlacher signs on to promote military academy

RANTOUL — Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher hadn’t heard of Lincoln’s Challenge Academy until recently. But after a whirlwind visit, he’s the military school’s new spokesman.

The Illinois National Guard runs Lincoln’s Challenge in Rantoul for high school dropouts from around the state. About 300 students live and go to school at what used to be Chanute Air Force Base.

Urlacher told The News-Gazette in Champaign during his visit Monday that he’s sold on the academy’s work. He said he was shocked to learn that 450,000 Illinois kids drop out of school every year.

Col. William Cobetto is the academy’s director of special staff. He said the academy has been looking for an athlete to help recruit students.

After a tour and a meal, Urlacher spoke to cadets and taped several ads.