Tony Durkin Pleased With Illini Offer

As the summer approaches, Illinois coaches continue to evaluate players and offer scholarships. The Illini coaching staff recently offered Tony Durkin, a center prospect from Andrew High School in Tinley Park.

Tony Durkin was pleasantly surprised to pick up an Illinois offer earlier this week.

"Coach [Paul] Petrino called my coach on Tuesday and told him Illinois was offering me. Petrino called me later in the day to talk about the offer and to set up a visit for the weekend. The offer was a bit of a surprise because the Illinois coaches had been talking about me coming in for a camp to get an offer. So, I was focused on that."

The Illini had been in contact for several months before extending an offer.

"They've been talking to me since early winter, sometime in December or January. My teammate Chris O'Connor got an Illinois offer pretty early and since then, it seems like I've been on their radar.

"Chris and I work out together and talk about recruiting. Mark [Lenkiewicz, Minnesota signee] has been helping us with recruiting, answering any questions we have. He had offers from some of the same schools as Chris and I."

Although he is visiting this weekend, this will not be Durkin's first trip to Illinois.

"I've been to Illinois a number of times, five or six times. The Bears used to play there, and they host the state playoffs. I went to the spring game last month. I like the campus. and it seems like they're fan support is solid."

In addition to the Illinois offer, Durkin currently has offers from Arizona, Air Force, Ball State, Central Michigan, Colorado State, Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, Louisiana Tech, Minnesota, Western Kentucky, and Wyoming. He visited several of those schools this spring.

"I went to Ball State in March. They had an off year last year, but I know they'll get things turned around. I also went to Central Michigan. They're one of the teams to beat in that conference. They've got a real good program and facilities. I like their small campus.

"I went to Illinois State. They're 1-AA, and the coaches told me they're looking for players to make them a winning program."

Durkin is looking to make a decision soon.

"I'm looking to make a decision next month or in July, before my season starts."

The 6'-3", 270 pound lineman finished up school this week and is turning his focus to the upcoming season.

"We're finishing up finals. We have next week off, and then we start our summer lifting program. We're looking strong for next season. We only lost two tackles on offense, both of whom signed with Division 1 schools last year. We're looking for two guys to step up there.

"Everyone else on offense is coming back. We lost 5 or 6 on defense, but that shouldn't be a problem because we have the guys needed to step up."

Durkin moved to center last season, the position nearly every school interested in him wants him to play in college. He'll play the same position this year, which is also his third year on varsity.

"Last year, I started at center. My sophomore year, I started at guard. I'd say I have great feet and agility. I love getting out on a run block and getting to the second level, but I want to get faster and stronger.

"People I know who've played in college tell me that it's hard to grasp just how fast the college game is by watching a game, and I'll be going up against guys who've been in a weight program for several years."

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