If you've ever wondered who that man is with the headphones standing among the Illini offensive players on the sidelines during games, it is Jon Carvin. He is heavily involved with keeping players organized during games. In practices, he works with the offensive line.
Carvin talks about his background and how he ended up at Illinois.
"I'm from upstate New York originally. I decided I wanted to coach when I finished school in 2004 at the University of Albany. I helped out for a semester there. I then got hired at UPI Massachusetts for two years. Then I was at Lafayette in Pennsylvania most recently for three years.
"Guys spoke highly enough there for me to recommend myself to Coach Joe Gilbert. Coach Gilbert has Albany ties, he's also from upstate New York, and luckily for me I landed here. It is a dream come true."
His graduate assistantship at Illinois allows him to pursue a Master's Degree.
"At the two places I was previously, I was a grad assistant but there was no grad school. I was a grad assistant/restricted earnings guy, but I couldn't take any classes. The Master's degree is icing on the cake. My passion is to coach, hopefully do a good job here and then the next thing will happen down the road."
Carvin was a defensive player in college, but a coach must know all aspects of the game.
"I played linebacker, and in the five years before coming here I coached every position on defense, d-line, linebackers and secondary. Sure enough, the offensive graduate assistant opened up here at Illinois. Coach Gilbert works with the o-line, and now I'm working with him. I'm also working with the rest of the offense, and I'm learning a ton, that's for sure.
"It opens up the whole other side of the football, whether it be as a position coach, which is probably the next step down the line, and then hopefully a coordinator. If you want to be a head coach after that, you can take that spot.
"I've already filled up about four notebooks. I've been nothing but impressed, not only with Coach (Paul) Petrino but the rest of the coaches on the offensive staff, and Coach (Ron) Zook. The program here, in my opinion, is run very well."
Gilbert deserves the bulk of the credit for the quality play being turned in by the offensive linemen. Their work against Northwestern was nothing short of domination. But Carvin has helped the growth progress ever since last winter and spring.
"I think the group as a whole is working very hard and getting better every day. That's what I stress. I try to be the motivator. I get to work with them a little bit early on in practice.
"I'm constantly saying buzz words, whether it's keeping their weight right on their feet or using their hands properly. I put those thoughts into their heads, and hopefully it helps them individually and then carries over to the game. That's my role with the offensive line."
Speaking early in the 2010 season, Carvin was prophetic about Illini potential.
"The kids are buying into the change in attitude the coaches have brought upon them. We're gonna surprise people this year."
Carvin will more than likely be around one more year before moving on to more secure job placement.
"It is a two-year grad assistantship. A new job may present itself that may help me grow as a coach and help my career, but I have no problem staying here for two years. It'll take a long time to learn everything."