Offensive Line Anchored By Jon Asamoah

Jon Asamoah (Holly Smith)

The upcoming seniors on the Fighting Illini football team just completed their last winter conditioning and spring practices. They have one more fall to find their peak games and go out on a winning note. Offensive lineman Jon Asamoah believes the Illini will have a great season, so he is thinking more about that than ending his career.

When asked about completing his final spring practice as an Illinois football player, Jon Asamoah was not ready to get sentimental.

"When I get near the end of the season, I'll probably start feeling it. But right now, I'm just excited for where we're at. I don't even think about it being my last one."

Asamoah had to work with a new coach in Joe Gilbert, but everything went smoothly.

"It was good. I got used to a new coach and learned the new techniques. It got me excited for the season. I'm ready to play somebody else.

"The way the offense is looking, I'm excited for the opportunity to go out there and win games. Beat up on somebody besides our own guys. I'm getting tired of them."

As other offensive linemen confirmed, the transition to Coach Gilbert was a smooth one.

"No setbacks. We came in with an open mind. We wanted to see what he had to offer. He's one of the best coaches I've ever had.

"I love Wolf (Eric Wolford), he's one of my favorite coaches too. They are neck and neck. But he (Gilbert) has a high football IQ and is real big on technique. He's fixed some little things about my game I never thought about before.

"I have more of an offensive line mentality with this coach. This is my third coach, three in four years. I guess I've seen a lot of different guys."

Asamoah has learned more about technique with Gilbert's simplified approach.

"The techniques are simpler now. Little tweaks, real simple things put in. But it feels like a big change when you get out there and bullets start flying. Simple things that help us be firmer in the pocket, and all those things."

The 6'-5", 315 pounder out of Rich East High School has also embraced the important leadership role expected of a college senior.

"It's been cool. Ever since I came in as a freshman, it's been building up. Me and (Eric) Block just took over this year where (Ryan) McDonald, X (Xavier Fulton) and those guys left off last year.

"I love the role, and I love the guys. I want them to get better and play the best they can. I will do whatever I can to help them."

Asamoah earned the spring award for player with the highest grade point average, so he is a hard worker in the classroom as well as the football field. His intelligence gives him credibility when analyzing the Illini defense.

"It's a battle out there. We smack them in the face, and they're gonna come back and get us. Hopefully, we don't let our guard down. That's the way it goes, back and forth.

"There's a lot of talent on defense. It's just a matter of these guys stepping up and assuming bigger roles. They're capable, so we'll see what happens."

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