Asamoah Ready To Perform For NFL

An illness in fall camp, and a broken bone in the Senior Bowl. One might think Illini offensive guard Jon Asamoah would be upset about how fate has dealt him a low blow. Even though he couldn't work out for the NFL Combine or Illini Pro Timing Day, Asamoah will soon be able to prove himself for NFL teams and feels confident.

Jon Asamoah is the most highly rated offensive linemen to come out of Illinois in several years. He came down with mononucleosis at the beginning of Camp Rantoul last fall, and he played for a team that won only three games. Yet he was still named second team All-Big 10.

Some draft experts expect him to be drafted in the first three rounds. That's amazing considering he hasn't yet worked out for any pro teams. He expected that to happen during the Senior Bowl.

"The Senior Bowl was kind of a whirlwind," Asamoah remembers. "I got there Sunday, and we had meetings about what we were gonna do the first day on offense. I talked to scouts all night. I think I sat down with one team, the GM and everything, the first night.

"Then I went to practice Monday, got halfway through, went to one-on-ones, felt my shoulder hurt. I got back to Phoenix and decided what was wrong and made a plan on what's next. I wish I had been there. It was hard watching the game on TV."

A hairline fracture to his shoulder needed time to heal. He couldn't lift weights or follow his normal workout regimen until it healed. And he couldn't participate in the weight lifting or running parts of the NFL Combine. Even then, he feels he benefitted from going to Indianapolis.

"I got to meet a lot of the pro scouts. Offensive line coaches asking me how much I know about football, making calls about blitzes. I'd answer right away. So it was a good way for them to see how much I know and how quickly I can absorb what they want to teach me.

"I would have loved to work out, but I just couldn't. But the interviews were maybe just as important. They've seen me play before, so they know the football part. They may not know what kind of person I am, how much football I actually know."

Asamoah has been training the best he can, but that was limited until this past week when he was cleared for full duty.

"I've been down in Phoenix working out, watching all those guys compete. I felt great this week when I was finally back into it."

He said it was torture watching his teammates work out for the scouts on Pro Timing Day. But he is taking it in stride, laughing about his special April 8 private workout in Champaign.

"I'll have a personal Pro Day here. It will be like I'm a specialist or something."

Pro teams will set up private workouts after that.

"They've been calling me, trying to work out a schedule after my Pro Day. There are gonna be a lot of offensive line coaches here when I work out April 8th.

"And then I've got to get back to Indianapolis. The guys who didn't work out at the Combine have to go back for the medical again. So I'll do that. And then teams are filling in for workouts."

Asamoah played half his senior season at less than full strength.

"You can see a big difference after 4-5 games. My weight was back up and I was ready to go. The first couple games I was getting back in shape. I didn't get to go through camp, so the games were rough. But by midseason I was back to full strength."

Did he consider sitting out until he was 100% recovered?

"I couldn't have sat out the first couple games. I just felt like me being in the game was the best thing. I could play at a higher level than the guys behind me, so I needed to be out there."

Asamoah looks on the bright side of things. Instead of worrying about a reduced draft status, he sees positives in his temporary setbacks.

"I had a great year. The shoulder was unfortunate, but it could have been a lot worse. It could have been something that needed surgery or something that would have scared teams off."

One can go crazy wondering what team will draft you on what round. Does Asamoah check out all the speculation?

"All the projecting, who knows who likes me better? We'll see what's real and what's fake."

Asamoah's quiet confidence has carried him this far. There is no reason to doubt him now.

"My future looks really good."

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