Teitsma Ready For Action On Defensive Line

The Fighting Illini football team is working to develop depth at defensive tackle. One of the prime candidates for playing time this year is redshirt freshman Austin Teitsma. He still needs to get bigger and stronger, but he has qualities that should make him an outstanding player over time.

Austin Teitsma came to Illinois as a defensive end and was asked to grow into a defensive tackle. It required a redshirt season, and he benefitted from it.

"It was a great learning experience. I got a lot tougher. I got to go against the 1's a lot and improve my technique."

He earned the Defensive Scout Team Award for his efforts.

"Yeah, that was awesome. It was great. I worked real hard. I just kept going hard. The harder you go the better."

The effervescent, ever-smiling Teitsma is someone who can eat and eat and not gain weight due to his high metabolism. But his weight has gone up 20 pounds since his arrival on campus a year ago.

"I'm doing good. Coach Lou (Hernandez) has me on a great weight program. I'm working hard to get up there. I weigh 265 right now."

The workout warrior continues to gain strength as well.

"It's still going up. I'm still working. During the spring season, I got a little tired. But I think I'm getting a lot stronger."

Teitsma sees a chance for playing time, and he is working to earn it.

"Yes, I'm so excited. I'm getting a lot more reps than last year."

He has attributes that should make him an excellent defensive tackle.

"My best assets are my strength and speed, and I have a lot of heart."

Isn't aggressiveness also a valuable trait for you?

"Yeah, love that, love that. Just like wrestling in high school."

Of course, the Glenbard South grad knows he must improve some things.

"I've got to stay lower, and I've got to keep my feet moving after contact."

Teitsma benefitted greatly from the 15 practices permitted for the Texas Bowl. He would like to have played in the game, but the experience was still worthwhile.

"Loved it. It was frickin awesome. Just being with the team, hanging out in the hotel. And that win was awesome. We worked so hard for it. We got a lot of gifts and stuff, which is so fine."

The Recreation, Sports and Tourism major believes the Illini defense is coming together.

"A lot of kids are stepping up. Akeem Spence is big-time, a great leader. We're gonna be tough. We're hungry. We're ready to get out there and show them we've got something. We're real hungry for another bowl."

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