Started in all 11 games and has started 23 consecutive games at left guard for the Illini entering the 2001 season ? O-line was rated among the top-10 in many preseason publications ? Tallied 67 knockdowns ? Was in on 537 offensive snaps ? Line held the San Diego State defense without a sack and allowed only 20 sacks in 361 pass plays all season for an average of one sack every 18.1 pass attempts ? Helped lead offense to second consecutive 2,000 yard passing season and over 1,700 rushing yards for the second straight year, something that hasn?t been accomplished by Illini teams since the 1989 and ?90 seasons.
Started all 12 games at left guard ? Helped lead young offensive line that showed improvement each week ? Assisted the Illini in its campaign to become the highest scoring offense in school history ? Helped hold four defenses sackless (Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, and Northwestern) ? Allowed the Illini to rush for 2,082 yards (5th in the Big Ten) and pass for 2,805 (3rd in the conference) ? Helped boost the Illini?s 611 total offense yards in the 63-21 win over Virginia in the Micronpc.com Bowl ? Played in 94 plays against Michigan State and over 80 snaps vs. Ohio State, Iowa and Indiana ? Totaled 45 knockdowns on the season.
Played in nine games, earning his first varsity letter, as a backup offensive guard and on special teams.
Redshirted the 1997 season.
High School Highlights
Earned All-Pinellas County Athletic Conference honors as a junior ? Earned second-team all-district honors as an offensive lineman as a junior ? Played offensive tackle and nose guard . . . High school coach was Sam Roper . . . Earned three letters in football, three letters in basketball and three letters in track ? Led basketball team in rebounding and earned Christmas tournament all-tourney honors as a junior ? Won the conference meet in the shot put and discus as a sophomore ? Won regional shot put title as a junior and was a state finalist . . . Best throw in the shot put is 55-feet-1/2-inches and 150 feet in discus . . . Dean's List student throughout his high school academic career . . . Named Seminole Student of the Month in December 1996 ? Member of the Varsity Letterman's Club.
Born on May 25, 1978 ? Given name is John Kulaga, but goes by Jay . . . Nickname is Big Poppa . . . Majoring in speech communications ? Lists winning the Florida Class 6A regional shot put title as his biggest sports thrill . . . Parents are Jack and Christine Kulaga . . . Favorite athlete is Michael Johnson.