Isaiah Gay explains decision to return to Illinois for one more year
Illinois edge-rusher Isaiah Gay not only decided to use the COVID eligibility freeze to return for his second senior season in Champaign, he’s excited about the new operation being built under just-hired head coach Bret Bielema and his defensive coordinator Ryan Walters.
According to Gay, Walters indicated there was going to be an opportunity for him to rush the quarterback from a standing start, something the linebacker-sized Gay believes favors his good speed for the position. Beyond that, the new coordinator told his senior lineman the fresh game-plan for the Illini defense was going to make him “a lot of money” down the road once NFL scouts saw what he could do attacking off the edge.
After seeing the new regime’s plans for the upcoming season, Gay thought, “Why not,” and returned for one last trip through the Big Ten. A 6-foot-3 inch, 215 pound wide-nine defensive end, Gay has started multiple games during all four seasons of his career. He has racked up 85 tackles, 11 for loss, and 5.5 sacks, including 2.5 in the shortened 2020 campaign.
Several of Gay’s remarks to media after announcing his return can be viewed below.
#illini DE Isaiah Gay liked the idea Bret Bielema, DC Ryan Walters and DL coach Terrance Jamison had for the team.— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) January 13, 2021
"So I thought, 'Why not?'"
#illini Isaiah Gay: DC Ryan Walters "said he's got a game plan that's going to make me a lot of money."— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) January 13, 2021
#illini Isaiah Gay on potentially being a stand-up edge rusher: "It's very exciting." Wants to show off his speed.— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) January 13, 2021