2013 Surprise Players - No. 7

IlliniPlaybook counts down the list of Illinois players who will surprise during the 2013 season.

No. 7 - OL Austin Schmidt

The true freshman enrolled in January and went through spring drills, an advantage for any player but especially important for an offensive linemen.

Maybe more importantly, Schmidt was able to spend all winter and spring in workouts on campus, taking his 6-foot-6 frame to 275 pounds to ready himself for a shot at the field this fall.

Schmidt did everything that was asked of him this spring -- he worked hard and learned as much as possible. He did enough to earn himself the primary backup role at left tackle on the depth chart, a fact that didn't go unnoticed by fans and the media.

The former three-star recruit may not start out of the gate, but he's in position to get meaningful reps should anything come up. With his early enrollment and progression to this point, the staff should feel fairly comfortable throwing him in there if need be.

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