Nov. 27, 2012
By Thomas Curtis, Illinois Sports Information
During his playing days at the University of Illinois, offensive lineman Tony Pashos helped the Illini put up record offensive numbers and led the team to a Big Ten title. Now, as an alumnus, the former two-time All-Big Ten lineman is giving back to the university.
Pashos has donated to the football program he once helped lead to a Sugar Bowl appearance, establishing the Tony Pashos Offensive Lineman Meeting Room.
"It was easy to give back because the university has given my family and me so many opportunities, and has given me some great friends," Pashos said. "The university has meant so much to my family and it is dear to my heart."
Pashos was a workhorse while at Illinois, starting all 47 games of his college career. That total stood second in career games started in school history when his playing days ended and remains tied for third.
Pashos played a key role in the 2001 season, which saw the Illini win the Big Ten Title and earn a spot in the Sugar Bowl, starting all 12 games at right tackle. As a captain in the 2002 season, Pashos helped the Illini break the school record for yards of total offense for the second time in just as many years, starting 12 more games at right tackle.
"I really cherish my playing days," Pashos said. "Getting to play college football is a special thing and I wouldn't change anything about my playing days for the world," Pashos said. "You miss it sometimes, the people and teammates."
Since leaving the university, Pashos has carved out a long NFL career. Although he is not currently on an NFL roster, Pashos has played in the league for nine years with the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns, and is currently working out with a comeback in mind after missing a year with an injury. When possible, he still tries to keep up with the Illini.
"I try to (keep up) as much as possible," Pashos said. "This year, I have been a little better with it since I am rehabbing," Pashos said. "I try to stay as up to date on Illini stuff, checking up on former teammates."
As Pashos continues to work towards an NFL comeback, he speculates on how the Illini football program will grow in the future.
"I know the program has some great people with some great attributes running it and as more time goes by, you install a system and people buy into it," Pashos said. "The sky is the limit and I look forward to it as a fan."
Pashos was in Champaign this past weekend to attend a ceremony honoring his donation and made an appearance once more for the fans at Memorial Stadium during the Saturday game. But that won't be the last time Illini linemen will see Pashos because they will now hold their meetings in the Tony Pashos Offensive Lineman Meeting Room.