Joseph Spencer took time out from his busy schedule to visit Illinois last Saturday for the game with Ohio State. Speaking before the game, he revealed a specific reason to see the Illini take on the Buckeyes.
"Obviously, playing Ohio State, I'm from Ohio so it's kind of special. I'm looking forward to seeing the fans and taking it all in. I'm looking forward to seeing what I'll be around the next 4-5 years."
Firmly committed to the Illini, Spencer has enjoyed their 6-1 season so far.,P>"When I came in this summer, it definitely felt like home. And then the great start to the season. I've been watching them. There have been some close games, and you're gnawing on your fingernails. But the season shows what the team is all about."
His Mason High School team is also having a quality year.
"Right now we're 6-2. We're fifth in the playoff rankings. We need to win one of our next two to make the playoffs. Friday we beat Oak Hills, which guaranteed our first winning season in ten years. So that's pretty big. Hopefully we can get one more win so we can get certified for the playoffs and see what happens from there."
His coach has kept him busy. He rarely leaves the field.
"I'm starting both ways, which is different. Offensively, our running back just broke 1000 yards, which is definitely big. And I think our quarterback has 800 yards rushing. So I take pride in that since I don't have a lot of offensive line stats.
"Defensively, I'm starting at defensive end, which is a little different. I'm not used to that, but I have about 25 tackles. It's kind of neat to try something else."
Illinois is recruiting him as a center. Spencer says he practices at the position when possible.
"I was going to play center, but I did what was best for the team and stayed at left tackle. But I still take reps at center during practice. Our offensive line coach works with me on snapping, the reads and everything. That will be good going to center next year."
Spencer envisions a year to get stronger and learn the system under the experienced Graham Pocic, who will be in his final year next season.
"I'm gonna come next summer. The plan right now is to redshirt. Obviously, Pocic will be the starting center if he stays. I'm looking forward to working with him for a year, to get that experience since I will be playing center full time. And also to get the opportunity to bulk up and be an offensive lineman."
He figures the extra year should help him gain the size and strength needed for Big 10 play.
"Right now I'm 6'-3" and weigh 275. 290 should be pretty easy. I was up to 285 in the off season but got mono and dropped a little bit of weight. So playing around 300 should be realistic, it's just getting my upper body strength higher. That will definitely be key."
He had no doubt his college decision was the correct one, but the visit confirmed it even more.
"I'll make an official visit here and maybe another game, but I'm through with the recruiting process. I'm loving everything about Illinois, including the season. And some of the academic rankings with the Business schools. My visit today is solidifying everything, for sure."