A Tribute to The 2008 Fighting Illini Seniors


Nov. 21, 2008


Eric Block   #62

Eric's one of the co-founders of Man Day, which I think should be mentioned. He also loves the New Orleans Saints and was able to go to the Saints/Bears NFC Championship game. He unfortunately had a snowman built in his room by his roommates while he was at the game, which I think will be one of the things he'll remember the most about being up here for four years. We should also mention how Eric got a big picture in the Chicago Tribune after Hurricane Katrina, but he had the weakest pose ever leaning up against a brick wall looking sad with his hair in his face. But he was like `I don't really feel that way about it. I'd rather not portray that because I'd rather rebuild than sulk about it.' Finally, I'll most remember him as the perfect blend between the Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley characters in the Chippendale's dancers tryout sketch on Saturday Night Live. He's the guy who should be between them because he's the perfect mix between the two. And that's where we should end that one. - 44 Brit Miller

Matt Brandabur   #38

When I transferred here from the University of Utah, I knew I would have a difficult task acclimating to a new team. It took some time to become accepted by our group of specialists, but Matt was the first one to go out of his way to help me out. Now, in his final year, we ended up being roommates. The one thing that stands out about Matt is his desire to step out and voice his opinion. This is a trait that few have, for he chooses to go against the grain of society, one mostly of followers. Furthermore, the passion he shows for football, learning and life in general is worn on his sleeve. This will ultimately guide him through law school and onto becoming a prominent sports agent. Through the years here, I'll have well over 100 different teammates and I wish I could stay in contact with all of them, but that is unlikely. However, Matt started as a teammate and grew into a friend who I know will always have my back. I'm sure we'll stay in touch well after football and school comes to an end. "Charge it to the `Game.'" - #87 Anthony Santella

Sam Carson   #43

There is not enough you can say about Sam. Sam and I are both from the same town - of course, I'm from the better side - so we have known each other for a while. I have also been able to play on the defense and live with him. Sam is one of the hardest workers I have ever met and brings 100 percent to everything he does, whether it's on or off the field. Sam definitely earns everything that he gets. He is the type of guy who doesn't say much, but just goes about his business. Sam is also known for his honesty, which is one of the greatest attributes someone can have. Guys like Sam are the reason that this program has turned around and had the success that it has these past two seasons. We've shared some pretty funny memories over the years and I'm sure we'll continue to do the same. I can say with certainty that he will be successful in anything he decides to take on. - #20 Garrett Edwards

Will Davis   #81

Will is that guy who's always smiling and he's always got some type of joke or something that he saw on TV to tell me. And now that he's got the long hair, he kind of looks like a smiling lion coming into a room because he's such a big dude with all that hair and a big smile on his face. One of my favorite memories of Will is when we coined the nickname "Thriller" for him. We were sitting in our dorm in the summer time our freshman year and we were watching a video of Michael Jackson, and he said "That's what I want to be named: Thriller." And it's just stuck with him all this time. But to be serious, Will has kind of been my backbone these past four years because he's a guy from back home who I can always depend on. We've not only had the fun times and laughter, but we've been through the tough times and the hard times, the sweat and tears. And he's always been a good friend who I can go and talk about different situations, not only in football but also in life. - #45 Rodney Pittman

Jack Eastman   #23

I first met Jack when I transferred to Illinois and we immediately became good friends. Jack is an extremely tough and driven individual, who has worked hard on the field and in the classroom during his time at Illinois. He has a very outgoing personality and is constantly cracking jokes and telling stories. At practice, he is always the first one to jump out and run plays, and he always gives 100 percent all the time. His drive to always give 100 percent effort and his never-say-die attitude are a couple of the reasons why he has worked himself onto the playing field during his career. Jack has always been one of my best friends here and I know that we'll continue to be good friends when we graduate.
- #41 Tyler Pacha

Xavier Fulton   #68

When I first met "X" freshman year, I was a bit unsure about what it would be like living with him. The first time we met, we didn't speak to each other and we just kind of stared each other down. But it ended up turning out very well. Clearly it has, since we are now very good friends. He is not much of a talker but neither am I, so it was easy to relate. I remember he used to listen to a lot of music that I really did not care for too much, but he did manage to get me hooked on Linkin Park. All in all, X is a pretty interesting guy - you kind of have to get to know him to understand him.
- #91 Derek Walker

Conor Gillen   #39

I have had the great pleasure of knowing Conor for the past four years, as well as living with him for the last three. The first thing I noticed when meeting Conor is that he is the nicest person you will ever meet and that opinion hasn't changed. He is always there for you whenever you need anything and he can always make you laugh through his numerous stories. He is an extremely hard worker and is the true definition of a team player. He has given 100 percent to this program for the past four years, and his efforts have not gone unnoticed. I have the utmost respect for Conor and consider him a great teammate, roommate and friend. It has been a great pleasure getting to know him and his family over the past four years, and I look forward to continuing our friendship. - #65 Mike Nabolotny

Will Judson   #13

As a teammate of Will "Li'l Baby" Judson for two seasons, it's been a lot of fun. Will was one of the first people I met when I first set foot on this campus. He is a very quiet, respectful person who I respect and have grown to love on and off the field. Even though he's one of the smallest players in stature every week, Will has one of the biggest hearts on the team. I'll take him on my side any day. But not only that, he is the fastest person on the team and fastest person I have seen in a while - a quick-twitch guy for sure. As good as Will is on the field and as much as he dedicates himself, he is an even better person off the field and someone I want to mold myself after. - #9 Arrelious Benn

David Lindquist   #94

Over the last four-and-a-half years, I've had the good fortune of meeting an interesting cast of characters that have probably influenced me in more ways than I realize. David Lindquist (aka Lenny, aka Chongo, aka Eric Cartman, aka Lahaim), or Davey, as he prefers to be called, is one man in a few that became one of my best friends here at the University of Illinois. From our first days in football camp to life in the dorms and to our current misadventures in the Yellow House, Davey has been one of the most dependable and trustworthy people I've met. For years now, we have been finishing each other's sentences, (mostly Family Guy or South Park quotes and things about food) and, as weird as it sounds, we have reached a point where we just look at each other and we'll know what the other is thinking. The thing that I've always admired about Davey is his work ethic - he's the guy constantly encouraging and pushing others around him to get better as a football player and as a person, frequently leading by example. How often do you see 300-pound linemen beating running backs and recievers in a two-mile run then, in the same day, ace a psychology midterm? There were so many times that I can recall when I was struggling with workouts, rehab, or school that I considered just giving up and in almost all of those times Davey was there to help me through, even if it was him simply saying, "C'mon, X!!!", in his commanding of voice or "I'll race you on this next sprint, X. You're not gonna let a D-tackle beat you, are you?" I consider having the opportunity to hang out and just become friends with Davey over these last four-and-a-half years an honor and a privilege. When we went into our first Camp Rantoul as freshmen, Davey came as a walk-on defensive end whose last name the coaching staff couldn't pronounce and who had to prove himself time and time again to the coaches. At the same time he maintained a high GPA and he later earned a full scholarship, became a starter on our defensive line and became one of our most respected and feared leaders on defense. Davey exemplifies the meaning of hard work and determination by proving it every day on and off the field in every part of his life, and I'm proud to be able to call David "Lenny" Lindquist one my best friends. - #68 Xavier Fulton

Ryan McDonald   #60

Ryan is one of the greatest guys you could ever meet. He is a friend. He is a mentor. He is a motivatior. He is an example for the rest of us to follow. Whenever you need someone to turn to during the rough times, Ryan is a person you can count on to pick you up when you are falling. We have had so many great times together througout my three years here. Without Ryan, things will not be the the same. - #52 Jon Asamoah

Brit Miller   #44

Brit has always kind of been my partner in crime. I first got to know Brit halfway through our freshman year when he came up to me in the locker room and told me we were living together the next year. From that point on, we were sort of like a tag team duo. Any crazy idea I came up with, I knew Brit would be right by my side. For how much of a funny guy and loyal friend Brit is off the field, he is even more of a hard worker and competitor on the field. Since I've known Brit, I also have been able to watch him grow and develop into a great player and leader for this team. He takes the game very seriously and his incredible work ethic has driven other players around him to play better and make the team better as a whole. Brit is a true leader for this program as well as a great friend, and it has truly been a privilege to know him on and off the field. This one's to you, T. Steel! - #58 Bryson Whalen

Mike Nabolotny   #65

When I first met Mike during freshman year, I was so confused by what his name was. Was it really Nabo Nabolotny? It wasn't until almost the end of training camp that I heard someone call him Mike, and I think that was the last time I heard anyone call him Mike because, simply put, he is Nabo. Since then, I have learned a lot more about Nabo. He has been a great roommate and an even better friend. He is a selfless teammate and someone you can always rely on. Nabo has played every position on the O-Line - tight end, tackle, guard and center - and now thunderback, which is a testament to his resolve and character. It's not easy switching positions and yet Nabo has taken on each change as a challenge and succeeded admirably. Nabo is a lifelong friend and a great teammate. - #39 Conor Gillen

Tyler Pacha   #49

I met Tyler on the third day of camp Rantoul a year ago. The first thing I noticed about Tyler was the fact that he held a quiet confidence about himself. Tyler was not much of a talker because he allowed his play to do the talking for him. Every time Tyler throws on the pads, he gives everything he has. I've always admired that about him. Throughout practice, Tyler has been asked to play every position on the offense from tight end to fullback, while blocking guys 60 pounds heavier then him. Tyler is a great roommate and an even better person. As fellow walk-ons, we go through the same struggles and it is nice to have a guy like Tyler at your side to discuss your thoughts on football and life. As a friend, a roommate and a teammate, there is no one you would like to have by your side more than Tyler Pacha.
- #23 Jack Eastman

Rodney Pittman   #45

Pitt and I have been together since freshman year and we've always been together on and off the field. It's a friendship that's going to last way after college. With us becoming such close friends, we've been through everything. We've helped each other through the hard times and have gotten each other through the different bumps along the way. Pitt is a Godly dude. He's a God-fearing man who you can see is going to go far in life and that he's going to prosper. I'm just hoping I'm along for the ride. - #81 Will Davis

Tom Sullivan   #89

Tom Sullivan is a really down-to-earth, hardworking teammate and friend. Since the first day I stepped on campus, he has been there for me on and off the field. Tom has taught me so much about life and never giving up the way he handles being a walk-on and not being able to get on the field much this year because of injury. He's extremely dedicated, which we all see by the way that he'll stay up all night at the library studying and working, and still manages to lift and come to practice like it's nothing. He is a great role model for all of us as student athletes. He has stuck with it and never looked back or complained. He is a great leader and an even better friend. A HUI HOU (until we meet again)!
- #16 Michael Hoomanawanui

Derek Walker   #91

Probably one of my favorite football memories of Derek Walker was during one of our defensive line meetings at Camp Rantoul last year. We were watching film and Coach Sims pointed out something that he did right and asked the D-Line "Who is that?" and Derek said "That's me. You can call me Durango." The name came out of the blue and no one understood what it meant, but we were laughing hysterically and eventually he became known as Durango Montana. But on a serious note, Derek has always been a great friend and teammate. From the time I arrived on campus my freshman year, Derek has kind of taken me under his wing and shown me what it takes to be a great defensive end. He is always someone I could talk to about anything and will be a lifelong friend. He quietly goes about his business on the football field and it is no secret to anyone how much success he has had as an Illini. I'm glad I had the opportunity to play on the D-line with him and I wish him the best. - #95 Doug Pilcher

Bryson Whalen   #58

Bryson is a great guy. I will always remember the times that we all would go out and shoot skeet. Bryson was the first person that taught me how to shoot this past spring in New Orleans and I will always thank him for that. Now that I am living with Bryson, I have come to know him much better. I could always see how hard he works on the field, and now I see how hard he works in the classroom. Bryson is a great friend with a good heart, and it has been great hanging out with him for the past four years. - #43 Sam Carson