Brattan learning with veteran O-line

Published 08/14 2014 06:31PM

Updated 08/14 2014 06:43PM

RANTOUL, Ill. - Tom Brattan never saw himself at Illinois.  He was happy at Maryland, where he had been for the last 13 years.  But when his contract wasn't renewed, he was in a jam.  Luckily for Brattan, so was Tim Beckman.

"It's just one of those things that worked out well," Brattan said.  "I don't know how you say it, the stars were all aligned correctly."

After offensive line coach A.J. Ricker bolted for Missouri last month, Illini assistants Al Seamonson and Tim Banks suggested Brattan; the three previously worked together at Maryland.  Brattan took the job just a few weeks before fall camp started.

"It's been a sprint," said Brattan.  "Been exciting, challenging, enjoyable."

Brattan inherited a veteran group - four starters return, including three seniors.  The only real question mark is at right tackle, where Austin Schmidt, Joe Spencer, Christian DiLaurio and Pat Flavin are all battling for one spot.  The leader right now is Flavin, but he has only played in three games at Illinois.  The Lisle-native only weighed 245 pounds as a freshman, but he has gained 50 pounds since then.  At 6'7'' 295 pounds, Flavin finally looks like a Big Ten offensive tackle.

"It's been a journey putting on the weight," Flavin said.  "It hasn't been easy by any means but at this point I'm at a point where I can see it making a difference in my game."

Recruited by Ron Zook, Flavin had more than 20 BCS offers out of high school, including Baylor, UCLA and California.  It has been a whirlwind at Illinois.  Flavin has had four different offensive line coaches, and now he is hoping to take advantage of Brattan's belief in him.

"I really appreciate the opportunity that he's given me so far and I'm definitely trying to make the most of it," Flavin said.

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