Redbird Football Inks 10 on National Signing Day 2012

Feb. 1, 2012

NORMAL, Ill. - After only losing just 16 seniors to graduation following the 2011 season, the Illinois State football coaching staff did not have to fill as many holes as it had in years past. Although it was a smaller group than normal, ISU head coach Brock Spack and his staff rounded out their 2012 roster with the signing of 10 impressive student-athletes on National Signing Day Wednesday morning at the Kaufman Football Building.

The 10 players all signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) Wednesday morning to continue their collegiate and athletic careers as Redbirds. The group is comprised of nine high school seniors and one junior college transfer. When added to the six mid-year transfers previously announced, 16 new names have been added to the 2012 roster.

"It's a very good class there's high quality everywhere," Spack said. "We believe that they can all come in here, compete and practice well, and be very good students."

The group includes six offensive linemen, in an effort to add depth to the position that graduated six senior offensive linemen and five that were part of the regular starting front.

"I think we upgraded our front, which is obviously an area we needed to work on after we got hit hard there with graduation," Spack stated. "We got a few mid-year transfers, and now we're going to add onto that with a great group of high school players. We saw all of the offensive linemen and defensive linemen at our camp this summer, so I know that these guys are all really good players."

A pair of linebackers and a safety comprises the defensive signees for the Redbirds and the class is completed with the signing of a quarterback, giving ISU five quarterbacks on the roster heading into fall camp.

"We didn't take a lot of defensive players in this class, but we got quick guys at safety and cornerback," Spack said. "They can run and accelerate, they can get off blocks and make plays, and that's what we're looking for. I err on the side of speed on defense, and we're getting faster and faster every year. I think everyone saw what foot speed can do for you - we went from last to first defensively last year because of it."

As with past classes, the 2012 class was full of prospects from the state of Illinois with seven total players signing from the Chicago area and close to home in Bloomington, Ill. The class also spanned both coasts with signees from California and Florida and another from the Great Lakes region in Wisconsin.

Coach Spack and the Redbirds will return to the field Tuesday, March 27, for the first of 15 practices during the spring workout period. ISU will practice every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday up until the annual Red-White Spring Game, which is scheduled for April 28 at Hancock Stadium.


Andre Allen | LB | 6-2 | 190 | Fr.-HS | Bolingbrook, Ill. (Bolingbrook HS)

Bolingbrook HS: Key contributor for head coach John Ivlow ... helped lead his team win the 2011 IHSA Class 8A state championship, the first in school history ... was a force on the defensive side of the ball for Bolingbrook in the championship game, tallying a pair of sacks and four tackles ... earned defensive MVP honors after the championship game for his performance, which tied a state title game record for sacks in a game ... finished his senior season with 83 tackles, eight sacks and 10 tackles-for-loss. Personal: Born October 1, 1993 in Lexington, Mississippi ... son of Michael and Bridget Allen ... has three siblings, Michelle, Ashley and Michael ... plans to major in kinesiology and recreation.

Kyle Avaloy | OL | 6-5 | 315 | Fr.-HS | Lombard, Ill. (Glenbard South HS)

Glenbard South HS: Three-year varsity starter for head coach Jeremy Cordell ... did not allow a sack and was credited with 50 pancake blocks while helping team to a conference title and the second round of the IHSA Class 6A playoffs ... Champaign News-Gazette All-State Special Mention 100 selection ... named a DuPage County All-Area selection by the Daily Herald and was tabbed as the top player in the Metro Suburban Conference ... All-Metro Suburban Conference selection for the second year in a row and was selected to play in the ICA/Shrine All-Star Game to be held at Illinois Wesleyan ... also a standout in track and field and basketball. Personal: Born November 2, 1993, in Hyde Park, N.Y. ... son of Stephanie Avaloy ... has one sister, Cheyenne ... member of the school's mentoring program for junior high students and a member of the Teens Against Tobacco Use group.

Sam Campbell | OL | 6-2 | 310 | Jr.-TR | Lake View Terrace, Calif. (Crescenta Valley HS/Glendale CC)

Glendale (Calif.) Community College: Two-year starter for head coach John Rome ... named a unanimous All-Western State Conference First-Team selection following sophomore season for the Vaqueros ... team has the second-highest rushing total in Southern California with over 2,200 yards on the ground ... earned second-team All-Western State Conference honors in his first season. Crescenta Valley HS: Two-year starter for head coach Tony Zarrillo ... helped team to an 8-4 record and the team's first road playoff win in 30 years ... First-Team All-California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) selection as well as a first-team All-Pacific League and all-area honoree ... selected to play in the SSUSA All-Star Game and the Daily-News All-Star Game ... helped the team to a 9-3 record as a junior ... played his first two seasons of football at Village Christian High School, before transferring to Crescenta Valley. Personal: Born September 9, 1992, in Los Angeles, Calif. ... son of Linda McCrary ... one of seven siblings ... plans to major in psychology.

Soniel Estime | DB | 6-0 | 175 | Fr.-HS | Boynton Beach, Fla. (Santaluces HS)

Santaluces HS: Two-year starter ... as a senior, led the team in tackles with 98 and added a pair of interceptions ... named the team's defensive MVP ... also caught a pair of touchdown passes on the offensive side of the ball ... was named a team captain for his senior season ... as a junior, was named the team's special teams MVP and contributed in several areas at the varsity level ... helped Santaluces win the district championship as a sophomore. Personal: Born May 7, 1993, in St. Marc, Haiti ... son of Sony and Magarette Estime ... has three siblings, Roshny, Shonny and Sonia ... pronounced SUN-yell ESS-teem.

Ryan Gelber | OL | 6-5 | 285 | Fr.-HS | Springfield, Ill. (Springfield HS)

Springfield HS: Three-year varsity starter for head coach Mike Taylor ... started all 10 games at left tackle as a senior for the Senators in 2011 ... named a Central State 8 First-Team All-Conference selection ... CS8 Academic All-Conference pick ... IHSFCA All-State Academic Team selection ... helped lead team to the IHSA Class 6A playoffs for the fourth year in a row (first time in school history that had been accomplished) ... as a junior in 2010, started 12 games at left tackle and helped team to a 9-3 record and the IHSA Class 5A state quarterfinals ... CS8 Academic All-Conference pick ... started 10 games at center as a sophomore and was a CS8 Second-Team All-Conference selection ... played one game at center on the varsity squad as a freshman. Personal: Born July 23, 1994, in Springfield, Ill. ... son of David and Amy Gelber ... has two siblings, Ross and Alex ... member of the National Honor Society ... plans to major in social sciences education.

C.J. Irvin | OL | 6-5 | 300 | Fr.-HS | Manteno, Ill. (Manteno HS)

Manteno HS: Three-year varsity starter for head coach RJ Haines ... started all 11 games as a senior and helped team to a 9-2 record (most wins in school history) and the second round of the IHSA playoffs ... Illinois High School Football Coaches Association (IHSFCA) All-State Honorable Mention selection ... IHSFCA Academic All-State pick ... first-team all-conference and all-area selection ... starter in 10 games as a junior in 2010, helping the team to its first-ever playoff appearance in school history ... also started nine games as a sophomore at the varsity level ... also a standout in basketball and baseball at Manteno. Personal: Born April 18, 1994, in Park Forest, Ill. ... son of Lee and Cori Irvin ... has two siblings, Jordan and Tyler ... his aunt, Jamie Sennett, is an Illinois State alum and serves as the Director of Alumni Relations at ISU ... member of the National Honor Society ... plans to major in secondary education.

Dan Pawlak | OL | 6-5 | 270 | Fr.-HS | Lindenhurst, Ill. (Lakes Community HS)

Lakes Community HS: Labeled as a two-star recruit by ... was a three-year starter on the offensive line ... Illinois High School Football Coaches Association (IHSFCA) Class 6A All-State honorable mention selection ... IHSFCA All-State Academic Team selection ... North Suburban Conference First-Team pick ... NSC All-Academic Team member ... Lake County News-Sun All-County Team ... Daily Herald Lake County All-Area First Team ... squad finished with a 9-2 record and a berth in the IHSA Class 6A quarterfinals ... helped Lakes rush for over 2,000 total yards in 2011 and was part of the squad that broke 14 offensive records in 2011. Personal: Born March 21, 1994, in Lindenhurst, Ill. ... son of Jeffrey and Andrea Pawlak ... has three siblings, Olivia, Natalie and Matthew ... member of the honor roll all four years ... plans to major in business management.

Brent Spack | LB | 6-0 | 205 | Fr.-HS | Bloomington, Ill. (Normal Community HS)

Normal Community HS: Three-year starter at Normal ... team captain as a senior ... Illinois High School Football Coaches Association (IHSFCA) Class 6A All-State ... Pantagraph All-Area First Team honoree ... All-Big 12 Conference First Team selection ... guided the Ironmen to a playoff berth and a 7-3 record ... as a junior, named All-Big 12 Conference and helped Normal qualify for the playoffs ... made the playoffs as a sophomore ... started as a freshman at West Lafayette High School in West Lafayette, Ind. ... helped West Lafayette win the conference championship and qualify for the playoffs. Personal: Born April 15, 1993 in Lafayette, Ind. ... son of Brock and Aimee Spack ... has one sister, Alicia ... son of ISU head football coach, Brock Spack ... plans to major in agriculture.

Mark Spelman | OL | 6-3 | 255 | Fr.-HS | Waukesha, Wis. (Marquette University HS)

Marquette University HS: Three-year starter for head coach Jeff Mazurczak ... named Associated Press First-Team All-State honoree as a senior ... also garnered first-team all-region and all-area plaudits ... was tabbed as the conference lineman of the year and earned first-team all-conference honors ... helped team to the semi-finals of the Wisconsin state playoffs and was a team captain as a junior in 2010 ... named a first-team all-conference selection on the offensive line ... starter for the state championship team as a sophomore ... also a standout in track and field and powerlifting. Personal: Born November 2, 1993, in Waukesha, Wis. ... son of Casey and Beth Spelman ... has two siblings, Matt and Jenn ... plans to major in business administration.

Blake Winkler | QB | 5-11 | 185 | Fr.-HS | Frankfort, Ill. (Lincoln-Way East HS)

Lincoln Way East HS: Multi-year starter for head coach Rob Zvonar ... named the Gatorade Illinois Football Player of the Year by ESPNHS ... named a Illinois High School Football Coaches Association (IHSFCA) Class 7A First-Team All-State selection ... also named an IHSFCA All-State Academic Team selection ... Chicago Tribune Second-Team All-State pick ... Chicago Sun-Times All-State Special Mention recipient ... earned conference offensive player of the year plaudits and all-area selections from the Herald-News and the Southtown Star ... completed 131-of-213 pass attempts for 2,369 yards and 30 touchdowns against just five interceptions as a senior in 2011 ... led the Griffins (10-1) to the second round of the IHSA Class 7A playoffs ... as a junior in 2010, started all 11 games and threw for 1,929 yards and 21 touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 197.0 ... named an honorable mention all-state selection as named by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times after junior season ... also selected as an all-conference and all-area pick ... concluded his career as Lincoln Way-East's leading passer, throwing for 4,297 yards and 51 touchdowns while leading his team to a 19-3 record during junior and senior seasons. Personal: Born September 9, 1993, in Winfield, Ill. ... son of Jade and Yvonne Winkler ... has two siblings, Austin and Logan ... his father, Jade, graduated from Illinois State in 1978 ... high school teammate of current Redbird linebacker Pat Meehan ... a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Honor Society, Pi Sigma Pi history honor society and Mu Alpha Theta mathematics society ... plans to major in business administration.