BTN Show Influenced New Jersey Star

While the Fighting Illini football team didn't live up to expectations in 2008, there was one lasting legacy that continues to help them recruit. The Big 10 Network featured them in a 12-part series called "The Journey," and it made a positive impression on young football players. One who is considering the Illini based on that show lives in New Jersey.

Julian Pinnix-Odrick is already familiar with Illinois even though he has never visited campus.

"Of course I know the Fighting Illini. I definitely know the program. I was watching "The Journey" a couple years ago, and I enjoyed that. The Illini are definitely a reputable program."

He also saw an Illini victory that impressed him in 2010.

"I watch Penn State all the time, and they beat them this past year. My brother Jared played there."

Jared Odrick was a tremendous defensive tackle with the Nittany Lions and was a first round selection in the 2010 NFL draft. It appears his younger half-brother has similar potential.

"Besides Illinois, I have offers from Boston College, Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland and Marshall. I just visited Rutgers's practice. I visited Penn State, and I visited Maryland for their Junior Day. I'm planning on getting up to Boston College soon.

"I definitely hope to visit Illinois. My brother will have to help me out with that one. He says if I need help going somewhere, just let him know."

Pinnix-Odrick's recruiting coach for the Illini is Mike Gillhamer. He is in catch-up mode with recruiting after spending a number of years in the NFL.

"I talked once with him, but not much after that. I would like to speak more with him. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing him and seeing what Illinois has to offer and what I could do for the team."

Does anyone have a chance to beat out Penn State for his services?

"I'm definitely willing to look at other schools. I'm biased toward Penn State, but I'm looking at other schools. I've been to Penn State, and I know more about that program than any other program. So I'm definitely looking outside the box and not just taking a biased view. I'm looking at all schools evenly and seeing what they have to offer."

While recruiting heats up, Pinnix-Odrick is concentrating on track and the upcoming football season.

"I'm having a good spring. I'm doing track and field, just working out all the time. I can't wait for the season to start.

"I throw the shot, the discus, and a little bit of javelin. My best with the shot is 47', and with the discus it's 147'. I had just started the javelin, but I had to stop so I could focus on the other two. My numbers were falling there. It's totally different than throwing a football."

Montclair, New Jersey, had an excellent football season in 2010, and it appears better things are ahead.

"We went 7-5, but we went to the championship. We have a lot of juniors and a lot of experience coming back.

"With Coach (John) Fiore coming in last year and us just learning the system, we should hit the ground running when camp starts. We'll be able to focus on hustling and working harder instead of trying to learn the plays and the technical things."

Pinnix-Odrick, who plays both ways but prefers defensive end to left tackle, is not one to brag about his own accomplishments.

"I did okay. Just improving, steadily improving. I improved season to season and game to game. My stats were all right. I'm looking to increase those any way I can without taking anything away from the team. I'm just doing my role and trying to make the team better."

The intelligent, thoughtful Pinnix-Odrick shares his thoughts on his football attributes.

"I was told by coaches it is change of direction, but to me I made more plays this year off of technique, reading keys and following what I was coached.

"In addition to making more plays, which I plan to do this year, through technique, I also plan to make more plays through athleticism, and then combining the two. Following good technique and playing smart."

Of course, the 6'-5", 265 pounder feels there is plenty more to learn.

"I want to work on everything. But some of the more important things I need to work on include staying low. Being taller than most people throughout your life, you naturally want to look over everybody. At the next level, that's not gonna fly. You can't come off the ball high. I also want to work on my pass rushing."

What is he looking for in a college?

"I'm just looking for a place where there are people I can trust. Academically, I'm looking for what I'm able to major in. I'm looking for a good team attitude and I place where I can make a difference."

Pinnix-Odrick is still contemplating his college major.

"My guidance counselor has suggested Communications, but I haven't decided on a major. I'm always thinking about what I'm going to do outside of football. Maybe one day go into coaching, but I'm not sure yet. I'm talking about it with my parents a lot."

His summer plans aren't definite either. If they can get him on campus, the Illini have a chance.

"I'm going to a Nike training came soon, but I don't have anything set in stone for the summer yet. I'm still trying to figure that out with my coach and my parents."

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