Jay Prosch Takes Starting Role In Stride

Jay Prosch (Jack Lyman)

The Fighting Illini football team always plays freshmen who are ready for the rigors of big-time college football. There were several rookies who distinguished themselves in fall drills, and four played against Missouri in the season opener. Perhaps the least heralded 2010 recruit was Alabama fullback Jay Prosch, but he started for the Illini offense.

Jay Prosch was the starting fullback for Illinois in the season opener. He acclimated well to the challenge.

"Overall, it was awesome. I was pretty nervous going into it, but after the first few hits, it was nothing different from what I'm used to. Just playing football and getting after it. It was exciting, it was fun."

It had to be a special feeling to be named the starter as a freshman.

"It feels really good. Hopefully I can keep it up and keep improving."

Most freshmen hit a wall during fall camp as the complexity of their positions make learning difficult and relaxation practically impossible. But Prosch had the opposite experience.

"I knew I had a chance, but once we went to camp, learning everything, I didn't know how long it would take me. It was kind of hard for me to learn everything, but all of a sudden it just snapped. I was on a roll after that."

The freshman from Mobile, Alabama, played extremely well for someone who was not highly recruited.

"Actually, in high school I played freshman, sophomore and junior year at offensive line. I asked my coach if I could play somewhere else so I could be recruited, so I played linebacker. I had 199 tackles and had a really good year.

"After that, people started looking at me. A lot of bigger schools were looking at me, but they kept telling me they didn't know, they've got all these people. But I'm happy with the way everything turned out."

Fullback was a new position for him, making his transformation to starter even more amazing.

"I played blocking back on the goal line, that was it. I played offensive line three years. It's a different level, but I had the blocking under control. I just had to work on getting down in my stance, stuff like that. I'm pretty happy with my speed."

The muscular 6'-0", 250 pounder is a workout warrior.

"Yes sir. My school workouts started in eighth grade. I've always been naturally strong, but I knew if I wanted to be good at football I had to get into the weight room. So I worked really hard and got really strong. I discovered I liked doing it, and of course it helps in my sport."

Prosch appears to have good hands for catching balls out of the backfield. He also has some quickness for running the ball. He hopes to become more involved with both over time.

"Eventually, once they build confidence in me."

Not many Alabama football players migrate North to play in the Big 10. It is a different experience for Prosch, but he seems to be adjusting well.

"I enjoy Illinois, but there's a lot of things that are different, like I don't see my family a lot. I've made a bunch of new friends, and I love the college. I'm glad I came here."

He may have to give up some playing time when Zach Becker recovers from a stress fracture in his foot. But it appears the Illini will have themselves a quality lead blocker for the next four years.

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