RECRUITING: A few words with Jason Reda’s possible heir

By Mike Theodore

Ron Zook is one week from his first national signing day on the heels of a successful season as Illinois’ head coach. After losing kicker Jason Reda to graduation, Zook needed new blood to compete at the kicking position. Two weekends ago the Illini received a verbal commitment from Derek Dimke, a Rockford, Ill., native. The Boylan High School senior place-kicker set an Illinois high school playoff record when he connected on a 54-yard field goal last season.

The Daily Illini spoke with Dimke earlier this week.

Daily Illini: You had other offers, why ultimately did you pick Illinois?

Derek Dimke: I’ve been an Illinois fan, it’s close to home for my parents and Illinois has a great football program.

DI: Are you getting a scholarship for all four years or will you be a walk-on your first year?

    Subscribe to our sports newsletter!

    DD: No I’m not a walk-on. We’re still working on what’s going to happen my first year. My summer is scholarshipped and my sophomore, junior and senior years are scholarshipped. We don’t know what’s going on. No, I’m not a walk-on. I hate that word.

    DI: When do you think you’ll figure out your freshman year situation?

    DD: We’ll find out just before signing day probably.

    DI: What were some of your highlights this year?

    DD: I had a real good team. The highlight was just playing with my teammates and my friends and doing the best we could and making it the farthest we could in the playoffs.

    DI: Did you get to watch the Rose Bowl?

    DD: I watched every play of the Rose Bowl. USC is a real good team. I think Illinois had some unlucky breaks that definitely if they went their way it would have been a completely different game. The score didn’t reflect the game at all.

    DI: What did you do on your weekend trip? Usually they try to hook up a recruit with a current player.

    DD: My player was (Tad) Keely, the long snapper. He was a real cool guy.

    I met Jason Reda and I met Mike Cklamovski, and I met a bunch of the players. They’re cool players. I get along with them.

    DI: What has Zook told you about competition and playing time?

    DD: Right right. It’s up for grabs, I’m coming in and I’m planning on being the guy.

    DI: Jason Reda didn’t talk to the media his senior year because he was superstitious. Any plans to follow that after this interview?

    DD: Not guaranteeing anything, no. I might have to follow that up; I might need to talk to him about that.

    DI: What are you trying to do in terms of workouts?

    DD: I’m just trying to get stronger. I’m not the biggest guy in the world, every little bit of muscle counts.

    DI: With running or weights?

    DD: A lot of weights, my school has a great lifting program. We lift before and after school.

    DI: Is there a kicker you model yourself after in terms of style or is there a kicker you like the most?

    DD: I work with Billy Cundiff. He’s kind of been my teacher the last couple of years. My style is a lot like his. He just signed with Kansas City and he was playing with the Cowboys.

    DI: Who would you rather have kicking for you in the clutch? The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski or the Giants’ Lawrence Tynes?

    DD: Oh, after last weekend I’d have to say Gostowski.

    DI: Who do you have in the game?

    DD: I’d like to see the Giants win but I think the Patriots are going to win.

    DI: You’re anti-Patriots?

    DD: Yeah. I’m not a big Patriots fan. I’m not a Packers fan either but I wanted to see Brett Farve make it and beat Tom Brady in the championship but that didn’t happen either.

    DI: Have you gotten a chance to meet any other players that will sign with Illinois?

    DD: No, but during spring ball we get to come down and watch practice and watch us play and that’s when we’ll meet most of them.