The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

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February 20, 2024

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Athlete of the Issue: Eddie Tuerk ’24

Eddie Tuerk ’24 approaches the line of scrimmage in LT’s matchup against Wheaton-Warrenville South on Sept. 9, which ended in a 10-3 LT win (Klos/LION).

In the third grade, Eddie Tuerk ‘24 was signed up to play football for the LFC Tigers by his parents. He had always towered over his classmates, so playing football was a no brainer. As he began to play, he discovered his passion for the sport. He continued playing through grade school, middle school, and his freshman year. 

Although his freshman football season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuerk eventually got his chance to play high school football. Standing at 6-feet-4 inches and 225 pounds as a freshman, Tuerk quickly proved that he was too good to be taking on other freshman teams. Tuerk caught the eye of head coach Jon Beutjer who decided to bring up Tuerk to the varsity team that season.

“With his size we felt that he could help us on varsity,” Beutjer said. “He was physical, he played with a chip on his shoulder, he had tenacity, and because of those qualities he did a really nice job his freshman year. We knew at that time that he was going to be a special player for us and he was.”

Tuerk had played on both the offensive line and defensive line all throughout his career up to high school. However, when Tuerk was first brought up to play with the varsity team he was put on the defensive line. During his first varsity game against Oak Park-River Forest he only played a few snaps, but eventually he started playing a bigger role for the team.

“It’s a whole other world when you’re 14 years old going up against 18 year olds,” Tuerk said. “Going from eighth grade football to varsity football was a big difference. Even playing those few snaps was exhausting. I was still pretty big at the time so I held my own. [Then] I started my last two games, and played a lot of the defensive snaps.”

When Beutjer brought Tuerk up to varsity, the plan was for Tuerk to play on defensive line for his freshman year and then jump to both sides of the ball the next year. 

“When you have a really special football player who is physical and strong and understands the game, you want that individual to go both ways,” Beutjer said. “We initially started him on the defensive line so he could get used to the speed and physicality of high school football. But, our whole plan was for him to play defensive line his freshman year and then have him play both sides the next year. What’s most impressive is that there were times he would come off the field on defense and he would be so exhausted, but he would still go back in the game because he cared so much about his team and he wanted to win.”

Since Tuerk started playing both sides of the ball his sophomore year, he has continued to play on both sides throughout the rest of his high school career. By playing on both sides of the ball Tuerk was able to get better at both positions through experience and knowledge of what was going to happen out on the field.  

“You definitely learn things that you wouldn’t pick up just playing one side of the ball,” Tuerk said. “When I’m rushing the passer on defense I can look at someone’s stance on the offensive line and see if he has his weight going forward or is he more set in his stance, is leaning one way or the other, on offense I look where the defensive lineman is lined up to see which gap he’s going to play, it’s just those little things.”

In Tuerk’s high school career, his parents have been a major influence on him. From when he first received an offer to when he committed to Illinois they have always been behind him. They were the first people to get Tuerk into the sport and they were there to help him to the next level of his career by supporting him, and taking him on recruiting trips.

“My favorite memories were just spending all that time with my mom, dad, and siblings,” Tuerk said. “I would mainly go with my dad. He would work from the plane or in the car just so he could take me on visits. He would make sure that if I wanted to see a school that he would take me. Visiting a school just to see them practice, going out to dinner, or getting a steak together, I’ll always remember the memories from that.”

After Tuerk’s freshman year, he attended a scouting camp held at North Central College where any school can come and watch the players. This is where he got his first offer to play Division 1 football from the University of Cincinnati.

“It looked like Eddie had come down on Christmas morning,” Beutjer said. “He was so excited and he was walking back and forth and pacing, like a kid in a candy shop. From that point on his recruiting just took off, [Michigan coach] Jim Harbaugh came to visit, and we had a lot of schools come to see him. He opened a lot of eyes because [college coaches] want guys that are big and strong and physical but they also want guys that can move because it’s a game of speed and physicality and he has both of those.”

After receiving his first offer from Cincinnati he would go on to receive a total of 23 Division I offers. Most notably from Michigan, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Illinois, Louisville, Northwestern, and Miami (Fla.). After many visits and consideration, Tuerk eventually decided to stay in state, committing to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

“I chose University of Illinois firstly because I’m staying close to home,” Tuerk said. “Also, when they recruited me they were really open to me playing both sides of the ball. There were some schools that recruited me just for offensive line and some just for defensive line, but Illinois being open to both sides was important. They’ve proved they can develop guys into the NFL, and I think coach Bielema has something special going on there.” 

Since Tuerk is leaving to go play Division I football there will be a leader from the team missing, Tuerk has had a big impact on the team with his ability to lead his teammates. 

“I’m really excited for him. He’s such a great young man and football player,” Beutjer said. “He really has developed into such a strong leader for our team which we saw this year with him being more vocal and stepping into that leadership role. Illinois is getting a really good football player next year.”

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George Ross, Sports Editor
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