For most college football teams, it’s a quarterback, a running back or wide receiver that becomes the face of a program. Sometimes it’s a standout defensive end or a do-it-all linebacker.

But for Illinois, the individual filling that role was offensive lineman Nick Allegretti. He’s been a team captain and the guy that every other player rallies around.

So after Illinois’ disappointing 24-16 loss to Northwester, ending the season with a 4-8 record, Allegretti was a bit emotional after playing in his final game. But the senior didn’t hang his head or pout about the loss. Instead, he was appreciative of the experiences, even though it meant a lot of uncertainty and several challenges along the way.

“If everything was easy — you go out and win every single game — I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now,” Allegretti said about the adversity he’s faced at Illinois. “Went through constant coaching change, players, really good friends transferring. Injuries to my best friend Mikey Dudek. Just a ton of stuff. A lot of stuff. It grows you.”

“Obviously you don’t want the losses but I’m proud to be a Fighting Illini. I’ll be one the rest of my life. I’m proud of my five years here.”

Allegretti, as well as several Illinois players, went through numerous coaching changes, playing for Tim Beckman, Bill Cubit and Lovie Smith during their careers.

The offensive lineman has often been one of the guys to frequently speak with the media and has often provided a positive vibe, despite the losses over the years. He’s been an excellent advocate for Illinois during his career.

His teams didn’t win a lot f games, but Allegretti will be remembered in Champaign for a long time.