Kansas City Rockhurst has a nationally prominent football program. Success is expected. Illinois is recruiting offensive lineman Zach Hannon from that school, and he was somewhat disappointed despite an outstanding record in 2001.
"It went alright. We're a program that's always expected to do well, so expectations were high as usual. We ended at 10-2, which is not what we all wanted, but it was definitely still a successful season."
Hannon had to wait his turn in the starting lineup but has made up for lost time.
"It was my first season as a starter. I have been on varsity since freshman year, but I didn't get much playing time because I was behind a 330-pound, 6'-6'' Division 1 offensive tackle for those first couple years.
"However, I jumped right in and did really well. I was consistent throughout the year and dominated players just as I was told to do. So I feel like the season went very well."
That player was Cooper Kerns, and he helped prepare Hannon for his starting opportunity.
"He helped me with everything from footwork to hand placement to finishing blocks. He taught me even more than my offensive line coach did my first year.
"I also had to face Dan Tapko, who went to Oklahoma, every day, which also helped me out a lot. The reason why Rockhurst produces so many D-1 recruits is because we face them every day at practice, producing more and more every year."
It appears Rockhurst will be reloading again this season.
"We only have five returning starters, but we were deep last year, so we'll be fine. Our defensive end, Jordan Willis, is the 20th ranked DE in the nation according to Rivals. We also have twin cornerbacks that each run 4.3 forty's, and about five other D-1 prospects."
Hannon has the traits necessary to have a quality college career as a lineman.
"I feel like I have great footwork from years of soccer, and I finish all my blocks. However, my best strength is pass blocking; I only allowed one sack this year."
There is one area of his game he wants to improve.
"Sometimes I over-think plays when the defense audibles. So mainly, I just need to improve on limiting the mental mistakes."
The 6'-4", 292 pounder has an offer from Illinois and has a relationship with former Rockhurst star Nathan Scheelhaase, now the UI's starting quarterback.
"I know a lot about Illinois because I talk to Nathan Scheelhasse a lot, and it's all positive. A player's opinion, such as Nathan's, is very important to me. He's a great role model as well as a great quarterback and leader on and off the field."
Tim Salem is Hannon's recruiting coach for the Illini. They have established a good relationship in a short amount of time.
"He's a great coach and a great person as well. I think he would be awesome to be with, and I hold a lot of respect for him."
He has a favorable view of the Illini program.
"It's a very good program with great traditions. I like Illinois football a lot and believe it's on the up-rise."
Of course, the Illini will have intense competition for Hannon's services.
"Iowa, Iowa State, Notre Dame, Duke, Alabama, Arkansas, USC, UCLA, Oklahoma, Kansas, K-State, Missouri, Illinois, Northwestern, Florida, Stanford, Colorado, Colorado State, Wyoming, and Texas have all reached out to me. I hold offers from Duke, Iowa State, K-State, Kansas, Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, and Nebraska."
What does he want in a school?
"The first thing is always academics. Also, I look for a great tradition or a program on the rise with a great tradition."
Hannon has several college visits planned for the near future, including Champaign-Urbana.
"I will be visiting Oklahoma, Arkansas and Illinois."