David Guthrie has always embraced a challenge.
After College of the Siskiyous went 5-5 his freshman year, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound safety had opportunities to leave the junior college and move on to play at a four-year university.
He decided to stay. He wanted to finish what he started.
“I wanted to leave a mark,” he said. “I wasn’t done. I came back, and we had a great season, went 10-1 and had the most wins of any team to come through the Siskiyous.”
When looking to continue his college career at a Division I university, Guthrie saw similarities between his two years in Weed, Calif., and the situation at Illinois. The Illini went 2-10 in 2012, but Guthrie feels like he can help build something special there, so he gave the program a verbal commitment Tuesday.
“I feel like I can go in there and make an impact,” he said. “It’s hard to bounce back from a 2-10 season like they had this year. It’s hard to do something like that. When you do that, it kind of opens people’s eyes and they’re like, ‘What are they doing at Illinois?’ I’ve been a part of something like that my whole life.”
Guthrie said he has been receiving heavy interest from Wake Forest the past few days, but his final decision came down to Illinois and New Mexico.
“New Mexico is great,” he said. “They have something really special going on there. The coaches they have there are amazing and everything. I was kind of confused; that’s the reason why it was so close between the two.”
When Guthrie, who played high school football at Winston (Ore.) Douglas, begins his career with the Illini, he will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as the option of a redshirt year.
He is ready to begin the next step in his college career.
“Even before Christmas break I’m going to try to get up there and get a good feel for it,” he said. “Get settled in and just buckle down and get ready to grind. It’s big-time football.”