Senior offensive tackle Marques Sullivan is an All-Big Ten and All-American candidate.
Sept. 5, 2000
by Susan Robinson, UI Athletic Public Relations
Last season, the University of Illinois football team answered the challenge. The 8-4 record-breaking season was a result of a great deal of hard work and sacrifice. Marques Sullivan can attest to all of the Illini's efforts.
"The (Micronpc.com) bowl game has been the most memorable time of my college career," said the offensive tackle. "We worked so hard to get there. It was a huge reward for us. I think the team had a great time. The team came together so much more and we capped off the trip with a big win."
Big wins translate into high expectations which Sullivan and the Illini are encountering, not only from the fans and media but themselves as well.
"Our team focus has become more narrow and we've moved our goals to a higher level," said Sullivan. "Last season, we wanted a winning record. This year, we want to better our record.
"We need to keep correcting our mistakes because sometimes it can mean the difference of winning or losing the game," Sullivan added. "Whatever we do, we just need to focus on one game at a time."
But what about the pressure of national rankings and preseason accolades? "This season is no different from last season," Sullivan clarified. "We're doing everything all over again, just the same as last year. I don't feel like there's pressure on us to do well because we expect ourselves to improve."
This is coming from a man who was named a Preseason Playboy All-American, Lindy's Top 10 Offensive Tackles, Preseason All-Big Ten and Sporting News Top 20 Offensive Tackles.
"I'm honored by having my name mentioned for these lists," remarked Sullivan. "This was something I've always wanted to accomplish. I've worked hard at my position for this team, making sure the team succeeds."
Success is what the Illini hopes to have for the school's 110th football season. Sullivan understands the weight put on the shoulders of each player at this university.
"Illinois has such a rich football tradition that it's an honor to run out of the tunnel," stated Sullivan. "Everyone on this team is doing their part to add to the legacy of Illini Football."
While Dick Butkus, Dana Howard, Simeon Rice and Kevin Hardy have renamed the school "Linebacker U," Sullivan is working towards making Illinois a place for the big men on the other side of the ball.
"I'm doing my part to help build this program to the top in the country," Sullivan declared. "With the O(fensive) Line all returning, people should expect us to do big things this season. But we also realize that as returners, we need to set examples for the younger guys on the team."
And what else should people expect from this year's squad?
"The fans are going to see a confident team-orientated football team," explained Sullivan. "We're a very physical team that will always compete and not back down to any challenges. We are a tight knit group that will fight until the game is over."
Sullivan hopes that his highlight of his college career is yet to come. "I want to win a National Championship," Sullivan said. That dream of every college football player would be a welcome addition to the trophy cases of Illinois.
But there's one last question for this player who stresses team before the individual. Being a Preseason Playboy All-American, the players have to go to a photo shoot at the ranch of Illinois alum Hugh Hefner.
How was the trip?
"It was fun," said Sullivan. "It was a great opportunity to see other players from around the country that are just like you. No one was walking around with a big head or anything. The ranch was very nice and we were very well treated."
With his high work ethic, Marques Sullivan should look forward to more trips in the near future.