Meet Senior David Lindquist

Most fans realize the defensive line is probably the Fighting Illini football team's deepest and most talented group. A number of standouts have been profiled in the media. The player who gets the least recognition but just might be the best of all is Dave Lindquist. His technique, knowledge of the game and especially his leadership are unsurpassed.

"I want to be vocal, be a leader, get everybody's intensity up," Lindquist explains. "That's one thing that happens at Rantoul. The first week, everybody's intensity is way up. But then, everybody starts to get tired, and there's a little dip in enthusiasm.

"It's up to the seniors and leaders to go out there and bring up everyone's excitement and get everyone going. That's something I am working on this year."

Lindquist began his career as a walkon but is now in his third year as a scholarship athlete. He has earned playing time ahead of more heralded youngsters, disproving the rating system for high school recruits.

"You really have to go in there and be willing to fight. They don't measure that in stars in high school. I think that's one reason why I have been able to make it."

Lindquist was largely overlooked in high school, but he knew in his heart he could play college ball at a high level.

"Former D-Coordinator Mike Mallory came to Highland Park and told me I had a chance to walk on. Playing at Highland Park was never really much of a challenge. There weren't many guys who were my size, who were big and fast.

"It was always intriguing to me to see if I could play at the Big Ten level. I always wanted to because my father did (at Michigan State). So I figured, if I've got a shot, I might as well take it. It's a great school, so I decided to come here and everything's worked out."

Dave has worked hard on his game and body both. He now has the size necessary to succeed at defensive tackle to go along with his intelligence and athleticism.

"My senior year (in high school), I was about 6'-2 and 1/2" and 250. Through the years, it's been constant working out and lifting with Coach Lou, so I'm about 290-294 right now. I've had it all summer, and we've been doing some pretty intense running, so I think I'm moving around pretty well."

Indeed he is. Two years ago, Dave led the Big Ten conference in recovered fumbles.

"It's funny, but two years ago they (fumbles) just came up to me, but this past year I had nothing going for me. The coaches always preach about having to run to the ball. I wasn't always the first one there, but if the ball came out I was usually the one to jump on top of it."

Modesty aside, Lindquist has a legitimate opportunity to play professional football after graduation.

"I like the idea of it (playing beyond this year). I hope I have the opportunity. I've talked to Coach (Tom) Sims about it, and he thinks I've got a shot at it. He and I discussed how I probably have to have a big year this year, just go out there and play my game, and it should work out for me."

He knows his success is enhanced when his team wins. So he believes a platoon system along the defensive line is ideal for him and the team.

"I think we have enough capable guys to really get in there and raise some hell in the backfield. I'd say Coach Sims will probably use about 10 guys. We did that last year, and I think we have enough to do that this year too.

"As long as we can get a lot of people in there, I'm not going to complain. There are times in the game where I'm trying to catch my breath. It's nice to know there are guys who can come in and pick me up."

Defensive linemen do the dirty work so linebackers can get the glory. They occupy offensive linemen and steer plays toward their linebacker teammates. As a leader, Lindquist is happy to discuss the development of his linebackers.

"I think we will have just as strong a linebacking corps as we have had any other year. Brit (Miller) has been starting the past three years. He really knows the defense, so he's been stepping in and taking over for J (Leman). I think he's going to do a good job.

"I think Rodney Pittman is going to step up at the SAM backer. He can really bring it if he's running. I say look out for him this year. Martez everybody knows is just a freak. He's gonna make plays all over the field. He's a freak when it comes to athletic ability. So I think the linebacking corps is going to be real solid this year. Anything we don't get up front, I think they're gonna clean up."

Dave Lindquist is excited for the beginning of his final college football season. He thinks both Missouri and Illinois have something to prove.

"It's gonna be a great, exciting game. I'm excited about it because I think both of us have a chip on our shoulders. Last year, we took it as a rivalry game, we fought and tried to come back and win it, but we came up just short.

"So this year, we're going to give it our best shot. I think they have a chip on their shoulder because we got to go to the Rose Bowl and they didn't get into the BCS. I think those two things are gonna make for a really good game."

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