Cordale Scott Coming Into His Own As Illini

Cordale Scott (Holly Smith)

It takes awhile for newcomers to acclimate to college football. No matter how great they are in high school, there's a learning curve that can limit playing time for any athlete. Cleveland Glenville receiver Cordale Scott went through that process last year, and now he is showing the talent everyone knew he had.

Cordale Scott wanted to play a major role for the 2008 Illinois football team. His heart was willing, but his mind and body weren't. It was a tough year for someone unaccustomed to adversity.

"I remember the first day in camp with pads, trying to learn the system, everything was going so fast, my mind was spinning. You just go back to your room and you're crying, thinking football's not for you."

Fortunately, he persevered. He waited his turn, worked hard to learn the offense and improve his body, and now he is ready to contribute. His second Camp Rantoul was much better than his first.

"It's a lot easier. I know everything, I know what I'm supposed to do, I know how hard Juice (Williams) throws the ball and I'm comfortable with Juice. It's coming along."

The 6'-3" receiver has also worked hard with strength and conditioning coach Lou Hernandez.

"I'm benching about 315 and weighing about 215."

Coach Ron Zook now sees a big, strong, fast athlete who can help both in the passing game and run game with his blocking.

"He's a sophomore," Zook reminds. "He feels much more comfortable with what's going on. He knows the offense and what we're doing. He's had a big offseason, he really has.

"He's a big guy. You look at him, Rejus (Arrelious Benn), Jarred Fayson, Jeff Cumberland. We've got some big, big guys. Not only are they big, they can run. He's just another one of those guys who can do that."

Scott spent a lot of time with Williams, Benn and Fayson in the offseason, learning all the nuances of the passing game. And he is benefitting from the competition for playing time with a bevy of quality receivers.

"Definitely because you're competing for a spot, competing for a role on the team. You see those guys getting after it and you want to get after it too."

He plays behind the 245 pound Cumberland on the outside. Scott can't get much better competition.

"Being with Jeff Cumberland, that's real fun. It brings the best out of you."

Scott enjoys his size and strength when blocking opposing defensive backs.

"Yeah. The little db's, you can just throw them around like rag dolls. It's good that we have good db's that are aggressive. So when we get to Missouri, Ohio State or any game, we know how to go against an aggressive corner."

It is no coincidence he included Ohio State in his statement. He pinpoints that game as he has several friends there. He had to shun their offer to attend Illinois. He knows he must continue to improve so he can help defeat the Buckeyes.

"Just keep getting better each day. Getting confidence. Football is confidence. Blocking, whatever my role is to help the team, just keep doing it to get better."

Scott sees improvment in Williams since last year.

"He's gotten a lot better. Just with throwing the ball and knowing how to put touch on the ball, knowing where to place the ball. Last year, it was kind of overwhelming how hard Juice threw the ball."

Fortunately for all the offense, there have been few adjustments adapting to the change in offensive coordinators from Mike Locksley to Mike Schultz.

"They're mostly the same. They're both good offensive coordinators. Both have good schemes. I really haven't noticed any differences except Coach Schultz simplifies it a little bit more for the skill positions."

When Scott allows himself to fantasize, he sees Illinois' skill players simply exploding on some unsuspecting opponents.

"Yeah, we know that. That makes us feel real good. Right now, we're just trying to get everybody on one page. Then everything will take care of itself."

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