BR-225 Knox WR Ilir Emini burst onto the national stage this past weekend with his unbelievable kick catch. I got a chance to ask him a few questions about his newfound fame, life with the Prairie Fire, and how his fantasy team is doing. Check it out.
HERO: How did you end up in the receiver position?
Emini: I was a running back throughout my youth football days. It was during my freshman year of high school that I first played receiver. I loved it, and have played the position ever since then.
You had a crazy play last game. Tell me about it. What was going through your head?
I have one mentality whenever the ball is thrown to me: “It’s mine and I need to come down with it.” That’s all I was trying to do, come down with it any way possible.
You’ve gotten a lot of publicity for it too. Some say it’s the greatest catch in D3 history. What’s that like?
I don’t know about all that. I have been shocked by all the attention it received. I’m just glad we won the game. It would have been harder to enjoy it this much in a loss.
This is your senior season. What are your goals for your last season at Knox?
First and foremost, we want to win. There is no greater feeling than looking up at the scoreboard at the end of the fourth and seeing that you’ve won.
Favorite football memory so far?
Well, now I guess it has to be this kick catch. My teammates and I have had so much fun seeing it on SportsCenter and all the various web sites.
What is one part of your game you’ve been trying to work on in particular?
I am always working on running my routes to the best of my ability. I am a perfectionist and always try to run a route as crisp, fast, and explosive as possible. I like to see myself as a route technician.
Any superstitions surrounding football?
Most definitely! There’s a procedure from how I put on my equipment to my warm up routine that I have to follow.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
As of right now, I want to continue playing ball after college. I will do that for as long as I possibly can. From there, I plan on being a Graduate Assistant Football Coach at a university where I could get my Master’s Degree in Special Education. This will allow me to get my feet wet into the world of college football coaching.
Guilty pleasure food?
Fruit! & Jack’s frozen pizza!
Someone on the team you look up to?
Coach Reed, my receiver’s coach, because he’s young and relatable, yet still knows when it’s time to flip the switch.
What is one thing that the guys on the team would be surprised to know about you?
I have played soccer more years than I have played football.
What NFL WR do you enjoy watching or try to emulate your game after the most?
It was Wes Welker growing up because he essentially opened up the slot position to shorter receivers like myself. Welker was definitely a route technician. I have recently become a fan of Julian Edelman for similar reasons to Welker. However, I feel I have to also mention Odell Beckham because of all the people comparing our catches.
What is your favorite Prairie Fire tradition and why?
The answer to this is simple, the Bronze Turkey. Every year, for the past 127 years, Knox College plays Monmouth College for the Bronze Turkey. It is one of the oldest traditions and rivalries in college football. It is the definition of what football is all about!
Secret talent outside of football?
I can juggle!
You are head coach for a day. What would you have the team do?
1 on 1’s and 7 on 7’s, the entire practice!
How is your fantasy team doing?
I am doing well so far, thanks! I am 3-0 in a fantasy league that 11 of my teammates and I do for fun!