Defensive Lineman Enjoys Illini Practice

Over the first weekend in April, the Illinois coaches hosted a large number of recruits. While the majority of them watched the team scrimmage on Saturday, a handful of recruits stopped by on Friday to take in a practice including Chris O'Connor.

Chris O'Connor, the defensive line standout from Andrew High School in Tinley Park, visited Illinois recently.

"The coaches were great," O'Connor states. "It was the first day in pads so the tempo was really upbeat. It was interesting to see how college practices are different than high school practices."

This was not his first Illini visit.

"I didn't sit down with the coaches then, but I visited the school a couple of months ago and had lunch with Coach [Paul] Petrino. He's the coach I talk to the most.

"I talked to Petrino about Illinois, but then I went and talked to the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach, and they told me all about their defense and where they think I would fit in their defense. They see me with my hand on the ground."

The Illinois offer originally took O'Connor by surprise.

"I was hoping to get an offer, but I didn't know if or when I would get one. So when the offer came, it was surprising to me. Right now, Illinois is my only offer."

A number of schools have shown interest in the 6'-5", 240 pounder.

"I've been getting interest from a lot of the Ivy League schools, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nebraska, and Northwestern. I'd like to make a decision before my senior season start. I'm looking for the schools that fits me the best."

O'Connor will be key for the Thunderbolts's defense this fall.

"Our offense has a lot of returning starters, but the defense only has 3 returning starters and a couple of guys who rotated in. My coaches want me to play all positions on the defensive line. I played mostly defensive end last year, but sometimes I moved down to the three technique."

O'Connor is a relentless player.

"I never give up. My motor is what separates me from other players. The first two steps after the ball is snapped are the most important, and I want to continue to improve on that for college."

O'Connor is a multi-talented athlete who plays on Andrew's baseball team.

"I lift in the morning and play baseball in the afternoon. I'm a pitcher and a first baseman, but right now I'm just designated hitting. We're pretty good."

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