Saturday, Jack Cornell took center stage.
Sunday, Luke Guthrie followed suit.
So who’s next?
Cornell, the Quincy Notre Dame graduate and University of Illinois alum, signed a free-agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens, becoming the first Quincy native to get a pro contract in two decades. There have been other regional products to do so — Unity’s Ross Schulte, South Shelby’s Ron Janes and Pittsfield’s John Wise all went to camp with pro teams but never made a regular-season roster — but no one who played at either Quincy High School or Quincy Notre Dame has enjoyed this opportunity.
In two weeks, Cornell will report to rookie mini-camp in Baltimore and begin his pursuit of an NFL job. It will be interesting to track his progress and see if the 6-foot-5, 307-pound Cornell can live out a dream.
Meanwhile, Guthrie is on the verge of living out his dream.
The Quincy High School graduate and University of Illinois senior successfully defending his Big Ten Conference golf championship Sunday while leading the Illini to an unprecedented fourth straight team title. Guthrie has the chance to go down as one of the greatest golfers in U of I history with the NCAA Regionals and NCAA Championships still to play. Quincy hasn’t produced a PGA Tour player since D.A. Weibring, and Guthrie will be the next. He plans to turn professional when the season ends and hopes to find his way into some PGA events this year.
First, he’ll try to qualify for the U.S. Open. Then, he’ll seek sponsor’s exemptions into any field he can. How perfect would it be for Guthrie to receive an invitation to the John Deere Classic, which is being played July 9-15 at the TPC at Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. It’s the course designed by Weibring and would provide an easy avenue for a flock of Quincy fans to follow Guthrie.
There isn’t a more perfect scenario.
With two Quincy products on the verge of professional careers, we go back to this question: Who’s next?
Keep these two names in mind — Jimmy Holtschlag and Dominic Pagliara.
Holtschlag, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive lineman, started 10 games last fall as a sophomore for the Western Illinois University football team. Meanwhile, Pagliara, a 6-foot-6, 296-pound offensive lineman, started all 11 games at left tackle for Eastern Illinois University last fall and has started 20 games in his career. Add in WIU kicker Pat Smith, who had 21 consecutive extra points last season and was named the Leathernecks special teams player of the year, and all three Quincy Notre Dame products could be on the NFL radar in the next two years.
Outside of Quincy, keep your eye on Hannibal’s Mat Sims, who is the starting placekicker at Northern Illinois University. Although kickers don’t typically get drafted, many get the chance to audition as free agents. Sims might get that opportunity.