Donivan O'Day could be getting paid for his hard work. Really well paid. Instead, the 6-foot-6, 310-pound offensive lineman returned to play his final year of eligibility for the Illinois State Redbirds.
"He had a six-figure job offer, a really good job offer," head coach Brock Spack said. "He's a really sharp guy. How many guys would say, 'I'm coming back and playing football'?"
Perhaps it was the fact that O'Day wanted to shake off the hurt of missing the 2015 season with a knee injury. Maybe it was the bitter disappointment of last season in which the Redbirds missed the playoffs for the first time in four years.
O'Day explained the job opportunity to Prairie State Pigskin.
"I was going to do data analysis for a firm," O'Day said. "One of my majors was stats. That and my GPA were what they really liked. They were going to offer me a decent amount of money and were going to pay for my grad school. There was a lot to think about, but I want to play football as long as I can. I love the sport.
"It took me awhile, like one or two months. My mom was like, ‘This is your decision, it’s on you.’ She’s proud of me, but at the end of the day, it was my decision."
Learn more about O'Day in this week’s Moving the Chains feature.
Hometown: Fort Wayne, Ind.
High School: Snider
In your college career you have been coached by assistants Dan Clark and now Harold Ethridge. Compare and contrast the two.
Coach Ethridge is more of an old school guy. He’s a ground-and-pound type guy. He teaches us important stuff like footwork in the run game. He’s taught me things that I never knew about until he came. Our line is better in general because of that.
Coach Clark talked more about schematics and how to read a defense, things like where the defensive pressure was coming from.
Working with those two guys has made me a better overall lineman. I know what the defense is doing and at the same time I know what techniques to use against it.
Former actor and Florida State football player Burt Reynolds died recently. Have you ever seen the original “The Longest Yard”?
No, I’ve seen the one with Adam Sandler and those guys. I’m one of those guys who is into comedy movies, but at the same time it shows how those guys all cared for each other which is pivotal in football and life. It has great carry-over.
What is the last picture that you took with your phone?
It’s a screenshot of one of my best friends. It’s him and his dog and he’s making a funny face at his dog.
Is there a fall TV show that you’re excited to see?
I’m a really big music fan, so I’m into music shows, but the two shows I really like to watch are “American Horror Story” and “The Boys.”
Elaborate on your love of music.
Music is basically poetry. Certain music makes you feel certain ways, so for example when I’m getting ready for games I listen to rap and hip-hop. If I’m trying to mellow out I’ll listen to some country or R&B or rock.
I don’t discriminate. Every genre has some really good music and every genre has some really bad music.
What is your favorite individual sport and why?
Swimming. I love watching it, and I love doing it too. It’s hard to do; you’ve really got to be in condition for it, but at the same time it’s so much fun to watch the racing.
Who is the best Fortnight player on the Redbirds?
I have to give it to Tylor Petkovich. He’s pretty good.