Catching up with Matt Sinclair

Flordia A&M;´s Ben Dougherty is sacked by Illinois line backer Matt Sinclair at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 4, 2004. Daily Illini

Scott Bort

Flordia A&M;´s Ben Dougherty is sacked by Illinois line backer Matt Sinclair at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 4, 2004. Daily Illini

By Courtney Linehan

Former Illinois linebacker Matt Sinclair is back on campus. After trying his hand in the NFL – he attended the Baltimore Ravens’ preseason camp – he’s working out and working on getting his real estate license. Oh yeah, and he’s been hanging around Memorial Stadium, where he sat down for a chat with the Daily Illini.

Q: Will Illinois beat Indiana on Saturday?

A: Yes. They’re due. I think they’re starting to understand that they can play with anybody. The young guys, I don’t think they realize they can play with anybody until they get on the field, but Zook’s not going to let them think otherwise.

Q: What is your favorite memory of playing at Indiana?

A: I have a lot of friends who go there, so they’d all come to watch and be rowdy.

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As a player, my freshman year, that was the first time I really saw significant time on the field. Playing against Antwaan Randle El, I missed two sacks against him but at least I can say he plays in the NFL now; he’s all-pro.

Q: Why will the Cardinals win the World Series?

A: They’re the best team in baseball. They’re the most well-rounded team. It’s their last year at Busch, so I think they’ll go out with a bang. It’s hard to talk about team chemistry in baseball because it’s kind of an individual sport, but I think year-in and year-out they have the best chemistry and the most well-rounded team, and I think it’s going to pay off this year.

Q: What is the biggest difference between you and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis?

A: He’s such a student of the game. If you look at him, he’s not the greatest athlete. He’s not going to line up and run a great 40 and wow you with his athletic ability, but as a player you’re always trying to get better, and if you look at him, he knows where the ball’s going on every play. He strives to get to that level where you understand the game that well.

That’s one of the things I tried to take away from him when I was there. I was always bouncing questions off his chest. Any time you get to talk to a player like that, you take advantage of it.

Q: How does Illinois look different this year than last?

A: I never thought in the Big Ten I’d see three or four teams that run the spread offense, let alone at Illinois. I was watching some of the reverses and screens they were running, and you never saw that when I was here. I think from a player’s standpoint the offense is probably a lot more fun to run; there’s a lot more variety.

Q: Do you think Ryan Matha is worthy of filling your shoes as a captain?

A: Yeah, more than worthy. I think there’s a lot of guys out there that are more than worthy. I think being a captain is more of an example type of thing. He’s got the work ethic. He’s not a very talkative guy, but you don’t need to be to be a leader.

Q: You’re working on getting your real estate license. Why are you interested in that?

A: I’ve always been interested in either that or the financial industry, but that’s hard to do as a temporary job. The real estate, you have the opportunity to get out there and see people, talk to people. I don’t want an office job.

Q: What part of the Memorial Stadium renovations are you most excited for?

A: The new weight room they’re talking about and the new entrance they’re putting down at the south end, the hall of fame and stuff like that. As a recruit you like to come in and see the history and tradition you’re going to play for. So I think that’s going to be a really good attraction.

Q: If last year’s coaching staff and this year’s coaching staff had a throwdown ala Anchorman, who would win and why?

A: I’d have to say this coaching staff might have the upperhand, just because I could see Coach Locksley and Coach Mitchell jumping in there, getting on some guys when they’re down, jumping on some people. But you can’t count out Coach (McMahon). He’s psycho. I think if you lined some guys up one-on-one you’d have a much better fight, but I think these guys would gang up on them.