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College Sports

I'm Just Saying with Richmond-Burton graduate and Illini football player Tim Clary

The ride for former Richmond-Burton fullback and tight end Tim Clary continues. After graduating from R-B in 2011, Clary went on to play at NCAA Division III Dubuque before walking on at Illinois in spring 2013. Last fall, he appeared in 10 games for the Fighting Illini, including a 33-yard catch that set up a touchdown in a season-opening win over Southern Illinois. The 6-foot-1, 245-pound junior hopes to continue making a strong impression, and perhaps even end up as the starting for Illinois when it opens its season on Aug. 30 at home against Youngstown State. To prep for the opener and fall camp, Clary is currently going through summer conditioning and players-only workouts.

There’s no offseason. It’s a bigger grind than you can imagine. … We just got done with our four-week training block. We had our kilos week, which is kind of like lighter weights. We do our testing, change of direction, jump testing. And 7-on-7s.

Personally, I hate the spread. I hate getting out there. I like putting my hand on the ground. Really, I’d rather block than run routes. I think that’s probably because of the offense I ran in high school — a Delaware wing-T. It was kind of a given that we’d throw the ball maybe 20 times a year. So, I mean, putting my hand on the ground is where I was comfortable. Being in the fullback position, it’s just a little different. You get a little more time to look before heading out. It’s just more smacking heads with somebody coming out of the backfield.

We’re 50-50. We’re west coast and we’ll run five-wide. It depends on the situation, really. Third-and-1, we’ll usually have the tight end. Or, third-and-3, we’ll have five wide receivers. It’s really how the offense is playing. If we’re not running the ball well, we’ll go four or five wide all day. We’re running the ball well, we’ll keep it on the ground. It’s not a particular area.

Really, it’s been the older guys, Evan Wilson and Matt LaCosse [who have helped him adjust from the wing-T to a more varied offense]. When we do position drills, we really work our footwork, getting out of breaks, teaching us the fundamentals. For me, I had no clue how to run a route to be honest. That practice, just over and over, really helped.

For starting, it's just the formation that he [coach Tim Beckman] wants to come out with. So, it's not always the case, but it does happen.

Ultimately, every kid who comes to play football at Illinois would like to win a Big Ten championship. I think that is always the goal for everyone.

A goal of mine is to maybe get into coaching once I’m done. It’s something I’ve thought about. If not, I want to be a director of player personnel type of guy. But it’s because of my high school coach, Coach [Pat] Elder, just the passion he has for football. I love the game. When you’ve been playing it for as long as I have, it’s something that you just hope to continue with in life, you want to be around. So, a way to be around it is through coaching. What else you going to do? But no, he’s the one who really opened my eyes. He’s so good with coaching kids, developing them. I kind of want to do the same.

I’m Just Saying is a regular Sunday feature. If there’s someone you’d like to see featured, write to me at or send me a message on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.

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