Star Illini Linebacker Gabe Jacas Joins The IlliniGuys Team

(Editor's Note:  Illini sophomore linebacker Gabe Jacas will appear on the IlliniGuys Sports Spectacular syndicated radio show every week during the 2023 season.  He made his first appearance during last week's show.)

August 25, 2023

(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Athletics)

Brad Sturdy  -- So Gabe, tell us how's it going? What are your thoughts on training camp so far? Are you excited about this season?

Gabe Jacas  -- I'm really excited. Fall camp has been really good. I just know I got a new position coach and he's coming from the NFL, you know, having him with his experience in the league, that they're really good. He's taught me so much. And I've grown so much this whole training camp. And I'm just really excited for the season.

BS -- You're a little bit under the radar because Johnny Newton and Keith Randolph are older and they're getting a lot of the publicity right now. Does that kind of make you like think maybe I won't get double teamed? I'd love to have single coverage. I could wreck some backfields.

GJ --  Yeah, just having Johnny Newton and Keith Randolph in the middle is definitely giving me some one-on-ones, you know, I'm really excited. Just having them as teammates, but this season just was really taking advantage of that, you know, winning my one on ones and just causing havoc in the backfield. So, I really think right now, I'm under the radar, but I mean, as the season goes on, you know, sometimes I might get double-teamed just depending on how the season goes. But, you know, I'm really excited for those guys. And I'm really excited for myself to see where I go in the season.

Mike Cagley  -- You've got an extensive wrestling background. How has that helped you?  Do you apply wrestling principles when you're thrown around offensive lineman?

GJ -- Oh yeah all the time. Specifically using my hands as you know like as playing as a defensive lineman or outside backer or whatever, you got to be able to use your hands, so wrestling taught me how to really maneuver myself and just being flexible in certain positions. So wrestling has helped me a lot in those types of scenarios and I've been using them since I started playing football, so it's really been beneficial to my game.

BS  -- Do you have an NFL player that you pattern your game after? Or some guy you look up to?

GJ -- Oh, yeah, I mean, there's there's a bunch of guys I look at like TJ Watt, Nick Bosa, Brian Burns, you know, Myles Garrett, or Shawn Geary. You know, it's a lot of guys, but one player I relate my gameplay to is probably Myles Garrett, you know, I watched him a lot. He's a freak of nature. You know, he's big, he's strong, he's fast, you know, he's able to bend the corner really well, he just got good body control that, you know, I like I like watching and he's the type of rusher I like to just enjoy watching whenever I have free time, and just want to relate my game to his.

Mike Cagley -- So, with a coach with an NFL background, how has that helped you?

GJ -- Yeah, he taught me a lot, some things I didn't even imagine, you know, just certain moves and certain techniques that I have never thought of that he brought to the table to our position room. It's really a good asset to have. My game has just changed tremendously. And I just can't wait to put them on display pretty much.  Coaching me up and just him being just detail-oriented. And his techniques has really helped me a lot because sometimes people just forget their technique, you know, their fundamentals, and he's always harping on just technique and fundamentals that you cannot forget, you got to apply that to the game.

BS -- What's been the biggest difference as you transition from Ryan Walters to Aaron Henry as defensive coordinator?

GJ --  I think my biggest thing is just being comfortable. Henry was a coach here last year and just him transitioning to the defensive coordinator wasn't really a big shock to me, you know, he's really smoothly worked his way up, you know, to the defensive coordinator position. I'm just having trust and faith in him has really helped me a lot. It really was a smooth transition.

BS -- Alright, now we got to get to important stuff. What's your favorite meal?

GJ -- You know, I come from a Jamaican household. My whole family's from Jamaica. I grew up basically on chicken and rice, oxtail, curry goat, cow foot, just extravagant meals that you guys never heard of. I'll probably say you guys look it up. You know, my favorite dish is oxtail and rice and, you know, my mom has this famous carrot juice that she makes, you know, whenever I get the chance to go home, she always makes it up for me. So that's my favorite dish, just oxtail . And then, I mean, then chicken has been my go to since I was little.  You know, I'm a big quesadilla burrito guy. too,

 

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