Jon Asamoah Eager For Year 2 With KC

With the pro football lockout, several former Illini returned to campus to work out. Among them was offensive lineman Jon Asamoah, a 2010 UI graduate. He now has one year of pro ball under his belt, and his future is bright.

Jon Asamoah is happy to be playing professional football in Kansas City.

"It was good. It was definitely a learning experience. I was in a good situation in Kansas City. I was behind Brian Waters and Ryan Lilja all year. If one of them went down, I was next. I did a lot of third down, short yardage, tight end, kickoff return things. I learned a lot."

The former Illinois offensive guard also benefitted from being on a winning team.

"It was great. It was the first time we won our division in quite a while. We got to go to the playoffs. I had a great coach. Coach (Bill) Muir has been around forever. Coach Todd Haley is up and coming, he's full of energy. It's a good situation, and I had fun. It's always fun when you win."

It also helps to have minimal competition from other college and professional teams in the area.

"The fans just love the team, period. You'll get criticized, but in that area it's Chiefs football, Chiefs football, Chiefs football. KU basketball is all right, but it's what they focus on. It's what they live for."

After serving one year as an apprentice, Asamoah is eager to compete for a starting berth.

"That's the thing. They brought me in for a reason, so whenever we get back it's full go. I'll be ready."

It is uncertain when that will be. With the players in limbo awaiting resolution of their contract dispute with owners, they are forced to find alternative workout locations and incomes.

Asamoah figures it will be resolved eventually. When that happens, he now knows he belongs in the NFL.

"Everybody's talented, but at the same time it's still football. Once you get the confidence to know you can play, that's when it gets started."

In college, football was a part-time job. Now, it is Asamoah's livelihood.

"There's a lot of preparation that goes into it. In college, you go to school, you do practices, you watch film and you're home at 9:00 pm. In the NFL, we do our studying during the day. I'm home by 5:00.

"I watch film on my own. There's a lot more responsibility. They treat you like a man, with expectations of you. You know if you don't produce, they'll have the next guy ready to go."

Some professional players become icons to the fans and are bombarded constantly for autographs and adulation. Asamoah has avoided most of that so far.

"The thing about being an o-lineman, people look at you and wonder if he plays. But they don't recognize the face if I was out with some of the rookies. If I was with someone like Tony (Moeaki) or Eric Berry, they all run to them and I just sneak off. We do the dirty work."

It may be dirty work, but Asamoah loves it. He wouldn't have it any other way. And barring injury, he likely has a long future ahead of him in the NFL.

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