CHAMPAIGN — What had been a backup plan now might be Sean Hussey’s football boyhood dream come true.
Charleston’s all-state quarterback and school passing record holder with 2,283 passing yards accepted an invitation as a preferred walk-on at Illinois.
“U of I has always been one of my top schools that I wanted to pick academically,” Hussey said. “I never really thought it was a football possibility because I really hadn’t been in contact with them. But then Coach (Tim) Beckman actually saw some of my
tapes when he was here talking to (Charleston) Coach (Brian) Halsey and he really liked me from there. Eventually I just got a call and found out I have a roster spot in the fall.”
After starting as a sophomore at Charleston, Hussey received some interest from Indiana, Mid-American Conference schools and the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
Eventually, those schools landed verbal commitments from other quarterbacks but Hussey stayed on the radar screen for Beckman, who about 11 months ago received a verbal commitment from Hussey’s high school classmate Dillan Cazley, a defensive back who signed in December and enrolled early at Illinois this semester.
“Coach Beckman made a trip down in early to mid-December and found out Sean was still available,” Halsey said. “Coach Beckman believed with the talent level and the sense of urgency, they utilized the scholarships for JUCOs that could help immediately. But he liked Sean. It’s not a wait and see. It’s guaranteed. He is a member of the Fighting Illini football team.”
Other options remained for Hussey.
“I was still interested in Eastern Illinois and North Central College, a Division III school,” Hussey said. “For Eastern I was (offered) just a very small partial scholarship.”
With both of his parents teaching at Eastern, Hussey receives half tuition from any state school.
That could be supplemented by academic scholarships, considering Hussey has a 5.1 grade point average on a 5.0 scale.
With plans to major in sociology and go into law enforcement — possibly the FBI or a government agency — Hussey saw the university filling all of his desires.
“Great academics, location and football,” he said. “It’s a great school. The football, it’s Big Ten. That’s just a cool thing. It’s away from home but it’s really pretty close for my family to see me play.
“Growing up, whenever I was young in JFL, I said when I grow up I want to play for the Fighting Illini. Now I have the opportunity to do that. It’s pretty amazing to fulfill a dream like that.”
This opportunity comes after Hussey quarterbacked Charleston to a 20-4 record the past two seasons with an IHSA Class 4A semifinal berth as a junior and second-round spot the past year. Both seasons the Trojans lost to eventual state champion Rochester.
He completed 141 of 229 passes this season and a school record 24 touchdowns.
With that the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder drew considerable college interest, just not a lot of scholarship offers.