Tony Durkin Discusses Illini Commitment

The Fighting Illini football program received its seventh commitment for the 2011 signing class with the announcement that Tinley Park Andrews center Tony Durkin will attend Illinois. He becomes the third offensive lineman committed to the program.

Tony Durkin made it official Wednesday by announcing his intentions of enrolling at Illinois next year. Right at the top of the Illini's list of center prospects, the 6'-4", 260 pounder is excited about his decision.

"It was a long process looking at good schools with good coaches. After talking it over with mom and dad, Illinois just seemed like the best fit for me.

I know a lot of people that go to school there. They can't say enough good things about it. And then my teammate Chris O'Connor committed, and he's real excited about going there. It just felt right."

The future Special Education major studied all his options carefully before finalizing his decision. His multiple trips to visit the campus allowed him a chance to get to know his future offensive line coach Joe Gilbert.

"I've visited four times and have developed a good relationship with Coach Gilbert. He seems like he definitely is a good guy. He was the guy who recruited me. The whole coaching staff is a great bunch of guys."

The decision came down to Illinois and Minnesota. Former teammate and friend Mark Lenkiewicz was pushing the Gophers, and the Tinley Park Andrew star admitted it was hard to contact Minnesota coaches.

"Yeah it was. I called them and thanked them for all they did for me. They were kind of upset, but they knew I was a person who was going to consider all his options."

Durkin was waiting to see whether Michigan State would offer a scholarship. In the end, he says it really didn't matter.

"It wasn't too big a factor. If they did offer, I think Illinois still may be a better fit. I'm excited about making the decision, getting it over with."

Durkin has the mobility and intelligence Illini coaches require in a center. He concurs about his best attributes.

"Probably my feet, and I have a good knowledge of the game. The center runs the offensive line, makes the calls. I feel like I can handle that."

His decision is final. He is looking forward to coming to campus this fall for home games.

"I'm gonna try to get to as many games as I can. Illinois will be my only official visit. I'm an Illini."

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