Dan Pawlak thinks it would be awesome to see himself in an NCAA Football video game. But in order for that to occur, he first has to accomplish his goal of playing Division I football. The University of Illinois is one of the schools he hopes could make that dream a reality.
"I've always been a fan of Illinois since I was a little kid, so if they are a team I like during the recruiting process, that is one reason why."
As much as Pawlak likes the Illini, he still has not received a scholarship offer. He has gained their attention and remains optimistic he can earn himself a scholarship by performing well at camp.
"Anything is possible. I am going down to one of their one-day camps in June. I'm staying positive and optimistic. Hopefully things go well."
The 6'-6", 262-pound offensive tackle from Lakes Community High School in Lake Vista, Illinois, is getting ready for his senior season. Last season didn't go exactly how Pawlak planned, but he still made an impact on his team. He reflects on his junior campaign.
"Last season, my team went 6-3. We made it to the playoffs, then lost our first game. Individually, I feel like I had a good season. I don't think it went as well as my sophomore season, but I still feel like it went pretty well."
Pawlak shared his goals for his senior year.
"As a team, I want to do better than last year—win a couple more games and make it further in the playoffs. Individually, I want to keep getting better and hopefully have a chance to play in college."
The Illini aren't the only program in his home state taking a look at him. He has been talking with both Northwestern and Illinois State and took unofficial visits to both.
"I think Northwestern was pretty cool. They have some nice facilities and some coaches I like to talk to. And the Illinois State visit was really nice. Their coaches were really cool and fun to talk to. I had a lot of fun."
Offensive line coach Joe Gilbert has been in contact with Pawlak during his recruitment. Pawlik talks to Gilbert frequently and praises him.
"He came and visited school a few weeks ago, and since then I have talked to him a few times over the phone. Just talking to him, he seems really cool. Any coach like Coach Gilbert, I could easily get along with and get used to in college."
D-1 offensive linemen must be good, strong blockers who move quickly off the ball, qualities Pawlak believes he possesses. But he knows he must continue to improve.
"Obviously, I am a good blocker but, just like everyone else, I could use a little work on everything."
Pawlak has a trait that is essential in a team game.
"Leadership. If I am trying to lead, I have to lead vocally and also lead by example. I just try showing people how to do things correctly and lead both vocally and with actions."
He is undecided on a major, but academics will be a factor in his decision.
"I am looking for education—if I will be sitting in a huge lecture hall or in a smaller classroom. I want a low student to teacher ratio. That way, I can get more individual help if I need it."
Once he finds a school he likes, he will study the football program to help guide his decision.
"What the atmosphere around the football team and football program is like. I want to know if the team is split into a bunch of different groups or if it's one big family. I want to be somewhere that all the players stick together. Also, it'd be nice to play early, but if I don't, I won't be complaining."
Pawlak said he will be attending many one-day camps throughout the summer in hope of gaining more publicity and at least one offer. If he performs well in Champaign, it could be Illinois.