When the Illinois Fighting Illini hosted the very first game of the 2021 college football season, August 28 versus Nebraska, the atmosphere was amazing. I’m sure you can guess the artist on this quote, one which perfectly summated the Memorial Stadium and Grange Grove mood:
“there’s an air and of happiness and this is the prince’s new definition of summer madness.” Yes, we kicked it old school, with a little Fresh Prince reference, and we continue our Throwback Thursday motif by catching up with Illini legend Rocky Harvey.
— Rocky Harvey (@IAmRockyHarvey) May 24, 2021
When we first tried to track down the elusive running back he had left to the 2001 Big Ten Champions Reunion tent to focus on his barbecuing. If you want to see a lot of great tailgating food pics and BBQing imagery, I strongly suggest you follow him on Twitter (link is above).
When we did catch to him, on the field during the halftime (the 2001 team was honored at halftime of the Illini’s season opening win over Nebraska) we had a wonderful, exclusive conversation with the Illini’s 5th all-time leading rusher that covered a lot of ground, including food and food related topics.
The audio of that exclusive is below, as we talk:
the dawn of the Bielema era, favorite memories of the 2001 team, how/when to best marinate your meat, what he’s up to these days, how Raussell Harvey came to be known as “Rocky,” and of course, his breakout game against Middle Tennessee State in 1998.
In that memorable contest, which ended the program’s 20 game losing streak, Harvey rushed for 215 yards, the sixth most single game yardage in school history and the most ever by a true freshman.
It’s a total that’s actually higher than Red Grange’s legendary Memorial Stadium dedication game against Michigan in 1924.
Rocky Harvey is just outside the top 10, all-time, in Illini rushing touchdowns and seventh all-time in attempts.
2001 Big Ten Champions 20 Year Reunion Exclusives
Kurt Kittner Rocky Harvey Brandon Lloyd
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGN, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune.
Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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