Corey Liuget waited until the 18th pick of the NFL draft to hear his name called, but when he did, everyone wanted a piece of his time. It wasn't until a day later he could share his thoughts on his unique experience of being a first round pick.
"The last 24 hours have been great. Getting picked by the San Diego Chargers was one of the greatest moments of my life."
Liuget talked with and worked out for a number of pro teams prior to the draft, but not the Chargers. He was surprised by their interest.
"I wasn't expecting the Chargers at all. I didn't speak with them. I was thinking maybe West, but I didn't think it would be West Coast. I'm here now, and I'm ready to work and Rock 'n Roll."
Once he had a chance to study the situation, he realized the Chargers have potential for the future.
"This is a team that's not too far from making the playoffs and going very far. I think I just have to come in ready to work and contribute to a championship team."
He believes he has attributes the Chargers will value in him.
"My motor and the passion I have for the game. Understanding everything that comes within me as a person. My will to win."
They told Liuget he can be used in multiple ways.
"They're expecting to use me as a 5-technique and in a 3-technique also."
Liuget was more reluctant to leave Illinois than teammates Mikel Leshoure and Martez Wilson, who were drafted in the second and third rounds respectively. He hoped to complete his degree, but talent like his is in great demand.
"At first I did have mixed emotions about leaving Illinois, but I've been out of school for almost five months now. I'm comfortable with my decision, and I'm ready to roll with it."
The Miami product was asked how Illinois prepared him for pro ball.
"They pushed me to my limit every day. Made sure I came to work every day. I did all the little things right, and it showed in the long run."
Liuget worked out in Champaign part of the time while preparing for the draft. He was there to observe an early spring practice, and Illini coach Ron Zook permitted him to lead the team in a "breakdown," an energy-raising cheer to begin daily calisthenics. He went at it with full gusto, providing a joyous war dance.
"I'm just that type of guy. I love the University of Illinois and those guys out there. And they know it. That's why I went ahead and did the breakdown when I was there that day at practice."
Will the Illini defense be good without their line star?
"I know they will. They'll have a great defense without me."
Maybe, but it would have been greater with him.