After running for 144 yards against Eastern Michigan, Reggie Corbin stands 17th on the Illinois career list. The senior is looking to become the first Illini since Robert Holcombe to put together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
Beat writer BOB ASMUSSEN sat down with the Upper Marlboro, Md., native earlier this week to talk about hip pointers, crying in the parking lot at State Farm Center, his secret poetry and much more:
What would a win against Nebraska mean to you?
That would be my first win against them with me playing. That would be huge. It was the team I had my first start against ever (in 2016). Any Big Ten win is huge. Any win in the season is huge.
How did it feel to get back on the field?
It felt good to be out there and be able to help my team again. But I just wish we could have got the win.
What was it like to sit out against UConn?
You always want to help. But I knew they had it under control. I had complete faith in them.
What does a hip pointer feel like?
It’s the worst pain ever. It’s connected to everything. It makes your groin tight. It makes your butt muscles tight. Everything. You have a bruise and it’s very sensitive even to touch. It’s definitely hard to sleep, to walk, to sit.
How did it happen?
When I scored (against Akron), someone put their facemask in my hip.
Were you sore last Sunday after 18 carries against Eastern Michigan?
I was still banged up a little bit. It was definitely tough being out there and not at 100 percent. I didn’t realize I had that many carries.
How are you different now than when you arrived at Illinois?
Just being able to understand life. And being able to help other people. I feel like when you’re younger, you have tunnel vision. The older you get, the wider your vision gets and you start to see things more. When I look back five years from now, it will be like, “Man, what was I doing in college?” Just growing in every single aspect that I can.
What have been your favorite moments of your time in Champaign?
Definitely the Minnesota game last year. The best part of that was when Dre (Brown) scored. Watching Josh Ferguson play as a freshman was unreal. Seeing Geronimo Allison catch that game-winning touchdown against Nebraska. Being able to start my redshirt freshman year at Nebraska. I think I played really well. That’s one of my favorite games I’ve ever played.
Who is your inspiration?
God, my dad (Reginald) and my mom (Patricia), who passed away. Now, I have an amazing angel.
Your dad got a lot of TV time during last Saturday’s game. Tell me about him.
If you ever talk to him and you really know me, we’re like the same person. I’m starting to realize that now. He’s a really hard-working guy. He works in radiology at Kaiser Permanente. I’ve never wanted for anything. He does everything for me. We’re close. He comes to all the home games.
How do you want your Illinois story to end?
How many more games do we have? Nine. Win every game from here on out. I keep my personal stuff to myself. All the personal accolades possible. All my offensive linemen drafted.
How about you getting drafted?
I hope that’s the plan. If I get all the linemen drafted, I hope it gets me drafted, too.
What has running backs coach Mike Bellamy meant to you?
He’s really important. There’s just an understanding when you were a player. It’s like a fraternity. You just know what the other guys are going through that are present. The fact that he can help with all my problems. Everything I go to him with, he never panics. He actually just laughs because he knows he was the same exact way. Having him my senior year, there couldn’t be anything more perfect. Coach Bellamy kind of lets me be free and be myself.
Have you seen any film of him during his playing career at Illinois?
I’ve watched it. He is definitely the best to ever wear No. 2 here. That’s why he’s on me. Even when he was gone, he’d tell me, “Make sure you represent my number.”
When you weren’t getting on the field a lot, what kept you going?
I think the turning point in my career was when we were playing against Western Michigan (in 2016) and I dropped that ball in the end zone and we were down by 14. I felt like the world had ended. Come to find out, Wes Lunt wasn’t actually throwing it to me. He was throwing it to the guy behind me. That was the day I cried in the car in the State Farm Center parking lot for hours, and then I decided to either be tough, fight and keep going or quit. That’s the decision I made, to keep going.
You warm up before the game barefoot. Ever worry about getting your toes smashed?
No. I go over there by myself just to make sure that doesn’t happen.
How much did you consider entering the draft once the 2018 season ended?
I thought about it a lot honestly. Up until the very last second when I tweeted out I was coming back.
Twenty years from now, what do you want people to say about your time here?
He played hard and he always gave back to the community.
Who is the one person, living or dead, you’d most like to meet?
Kobe Bryant. Just the whole Mamba mentality. I feel like I’d be able to relate to him. During the game, I would want to develop the exact thing he has. I am definitely a Lakers guy. I knew we would get good again eventually.
This is your third Q&A with The News-Gazette during your Illini career. Tell me something else people don’t know about you other than you are great at rugby.
I write poetry secretively. Never would you ever see it. I have over 50 of them in my phone. I’ve been doing it since high school.