LANARK — The Illinois State University football team has added some serious heft in the trenches.
Eastland-Pearl City’s Peyton Asche, a 6-7, 320-pound senior offensive tackle, has committed to play for the Redbirds.
He said he made his choice after meeting with Redbirds co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Dan Clark.
Asche said until that day, Illinois State was not really at the top of his list, but the Redbirds got there in a hurry.
“I talked with Coach [Cody] Deti earlier that day and he said Coach Clark will be coming in later,” Asche said. “…. I went to the weight room and worked out for Coach Clark. I really liked Coach Clark, talked to him for a little bit. They became No. 1 on my radar pretty quick after I met with Coach Clark."
Asche said Clark was the second college coach to watch him work out.
“He’s the offensive line coach, so I’m going to spend a lot of time working with him," Asche said. "I went down to visit and I really liked the campus. I could really see myself going there.”
With Clark at the helm, the Redbirds' offensive line allowed 37 sacks in 2016 and averaged 4.4 yards per carry. The 2016 Illinois State team went 6-6, losing to Central Arkansas in the first round of the Division I FCS playoffs.
“It’s a zone run scheme and we don’t do much zone run [at EPC], so it is different,” Asche said. “It’s just learning. It’s going to be an adjustment. Any high school to college, it’s going to be learning their systems and learning the plays and everything.”
Asche then made a visit to the campus in Normal where he met up with a former foe who will soon be a teammate. Jared Rients, a sophomore offensive lineman who played for Fieldcrest when they faced Asche’s EPC team in the state semifinal in 2014, was the ISU player who helped give recruits a tour of campus on Asche’s official visit.
North Dakota State expressed some interest in Asche. Wyoming came in to watch him work out, as did NIU. He went to a couple of junior day workouts and a camp at Wisconsin. In the end, it was the Redbirds winning out.
“It’s nice to be able to focus on my season and focus on my teammates and playing,” he said.
Asche was a unanimous choice last season on the All-NUIC Northwest squad as an offensive lineman, and was also first-team all-conference on the defensive line.
“They’re getting a kid with a great work ethic,” said Randy Asche, Peyton’s father as well as the EPC head coach. “Obviously Peyton’s got great measurables, and I think that’s what they’re looking at. Peyton’s worked really hard to transform his body and he bends well, he’s got more flexible, got quicker on his feet. I think they’re getting a kid who’s going to work hard and do the best that he can for them.”