From The Stands - Minnesota 2023
That's the spot right there in the photo. I'm standing just behind the 15 yard line there. With a minute left, trailing 26-21, on FOURTH AND ELEVEN, that's what John Paddock looked out on as he took over for an injured Luke Altmyer. He needed 85 yards with no timeouts (and he needed to convert that fourth down).
It took him three plays.
This is an epic Illini story that will go down in history. I'll get to the interview in a second but let me just real quickly link what I wrote in the John Paddock 90 Illini article in August. I linked the audio of the 12-minute interview I did with him at media day in that post (if you want to listen to it, follow that link) and then I said this:
My favorite part: Paddock being at the Illinois-Ball State game in Champaign in 2017, as a Ball State commit, watching his future team playing the team whose blood is pumping through his veins.
Needless to say, all objectivity is out the window for me and I now want Paddock to eventually take over the starting job and lead us to a Big Ten title. I'd write a book about it if it happens. More than anything I care about Illini fandom, and an Illini fan (and legacy) playing on the team is very important to me.
Those stories usually only exist in Hollywood, though, so I'm not looking for a publisher just yet. Luke Altmyer has a height advantage and an arm advantage over John Paddock (and probably a "wheels" advantage). The four-star was brought here to be the starting quarterback and the four-star won the job.
But these aren't my kids, so I'm allowed to play favorites, and John Paddock is my favorite. Here's hoping he gets a moment (or twenty) this season.
"Here's hoping he gets a moment this season" and then HE COMES IN ON FOURTH AND ELEVEN AND LEADS THE TEAM 85 YARDS IN THREE PLAYS TO WIN THE GAME.
I need to slow down here. I should take a few deep breaths. You're here for the From The Stands, not the article, so here's the From The Stands. There's no way I could record it without a special guest joining me at the beginning......