July 12, 2011
Senior offensive guard Jack Cornell is working in the Illinois Media Relations office this summer and will be providing weekly updates leading up to Camp Rantoul.
Working in the media relations department for the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics means I have the opportunity to deal with all sorts of media on a daily basis and Monday was no different. For the first time in my life, I had the chance to do a radio interview in-studio at the Tay and J Show on ConnectFM. It was a lot of fun being able to go into the station and sit down and talk with the guys, a lot different than the phone interviews I'm used to doing. They also came up with an idea for a promotion called "Fear the Beard," playing off my signature facial hair. We'll see if anything comes of that. It would be pretty cool to see some people in Block I with fake beards, though.
On top of my interview and this blog, some of my other duties in this job include archiving, updating rosters on FightingIllini.com, media guide updates and scanning photos among other jobs. On my first day on the job back in June, I had to scan a bunch of pictures of Red Grange, the legendary football player from the '20s and '30s. Each picture felt like a piece of history and were pretty cool - almost like I got a glimpse inside the life of a legend. I did have some help in doing this job with another intern at the time, Dan Bolsen, who plays football at Eureka College. Even though he is a defensive lineman, we were able to get along well enough to have a fun work environment.
As the summer is winding down, the work is only getting harder. The intensity level has been raised in all of our lifts and runs, but especially in the position drills we're doing three times a week. Our offensive line has made huge strides since last year, and we're bringing back a lot of experience, which is exciting. Graham Pocic has proven to be a reliable center in the middle, making sure everyone is on the same page with all the calls. Jeff Allen, of course, is the most experienced out of the group and is going to anchor the big unit up front. Most consider him the best offensive lineman in the conference, which I believe is a pretty accurate statement. Hugh Thornton is considered the third-best guard in the Big Ten by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg and is primed to have a great year himself. When Corey Lewis can get healthy, we should have plenty of game experience between all of us, but until then, Michael Heitz and Simon Cvijanovic are doing a tremendous job battling for the spot. Everyone is definitely working hard to accomplish our goals and get to where we need to be.
The clock is ticking down with only a couple of weeks left before we go to camp for the three-week grind to get ready for the season. While two-a-days are one of a football player's least favorite times, it is quite possibly the most crucial in preparing for the season. During camp, all we have to focus on is football. No school, no jobs, no social life, just wall-to-wall ball, as Coach Zook always says. It's kind of strange that this is going to be my last tour of duty at Camp Rantoul. Five years certainly go by pretty fast.