Townie Excited By Illini Football Offer

The Fighting Illini football coaching staff is searching far and wide for top prospects. As it turns out, they needed to look no further than their back yard for one possibility. St. Thomas More athlete John Strauser was offered a scholarship by the Illini. The versatile Strauser promises to take the offer seriously.

John Strauser was offered a scholarship by Illinois today. He describes the experience.

"It's got to be a unique situation for me since I'm in town. They called me and asked me to come on campus and go to their offices. Coach (Tim) Beckman and I talked, and he extended the offer. It's pretty crazy; I'm still trying to process it right now. I was definitely surprised."

The Illini are not his first offer.

"Besides Illinois, I have offers right now from Pittsburgh, Army, Northern Illinois and Illinois State."

The 6'-4", 235 pounder is a versatile performer for Champaign's St. Thomas More. While indications are he may become a college linebacker, the Illini are simply recruiting him as an athlete.

"I'm kind of a utility player; I play most everything in high school. I play defensive end, linebacker, fullback, tight end and d-tackle. I'm just a football player, and that's what they like about me."

For those who haven't seen him play, Strauser describes his abilities.

"I think my best asset as a football player is, I like to play and play hard. Every snap, I'm going to be going 110%. I might not be a sexy recruit who has national attention. I'm a blue-collar kind of guy with a lot of drive."

The towns of Champaign and Urbana don't produce a large number of major college football prospects. When they do, some are strongly attracted to the UI and others want to go as far from home as possible. Strauser hasn't lived in the area long enough to develop that kind of polarization. He is considering Illinois strongly.

"I'm not much of a townie. I'm originally from Memphis, Tennessee. I moved here when I was in seventh grade. I think what happens out here on my team is a totally different thing.

"It's a Division I football program, and it's a heck of a university. I've got to seriously look at that as an option; if not, you're crazy. It's a serious option for me right now because of what the football program offers.

"I really think they've got a chance this year at a Big Ten title. And with the facilities and coaching staff, the people around there, that's what they have to offer."

He has a good impression of new Illini head coach Tim Beckman also.

"I like him. He's a passionate guy, high energy. He's got a good coaching staff around him, so that's good."

When asked what camps he might attend this summer and what college visits he might take, Strauser found the question difficult to answer. After all, all his former plans might change should he commit to the Illini.

"I'm not sure I can answer that question right now, to be honest. I've thought about some summer camps. But it's been kind of a crazy 24 hours, getting offers from Army and Illinois.

"Coach Beck has given me a pretty nice extension on my timeline. I'm going to spend some time talking to my family. I don't want to look down the road too far. I have options, and I need to weigh out my options."

He has a potential major in mind, but he realizes plans can change frequently before they're finalized.

"I'm thinking about majoring in Education. But 16-year-old boys change their mind a lot."

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