As George Hoselton went through his fifth Illinois State football Media Day on Tuesday, a menacing Redbird logo was displayed on the Hancock Stadium video board.
That’s what it’s always been about for Hoselton. That Redbird means the world to him, his family.
He has committed heart, soul, blood and sweat to it, and in exchange has appeared in one game. Some would say that’s not much of a payoff. They don’t know Hoselton, a Central Catholic High School grad who enters his senior season No. 2 on the depth chart at left guard.
He’s in the mix for playing time. More than that, he’s a Redbird.
Transferring to a smaller school would have offered a chance to play, probably start. Most guys in Hoselton’s position would have done it.
“You know, I never really thought about that,” he said. “I like to finish what I start. I didn’t really want to leave here.
“My grandfather played here four years and that was a big thing. He passed away my freshman year. That’s been a big thing for me staying a Redbird.”
Stan Hoselton played at ISU in the 1950s. He saw his grandson wear the Redbird uniform in 2013 as a redshirt, but died the following spring.
“He never got to see me hit the field,” Hoselton said. “That’s what I’m hoping for (to play). I know he’s always watching, so hopefully that will be something I can look forward to.”
If it happens, Hoselton likely will point to the sky as he runs to the huddle. He’s earned that right, arguably as much as anyone in a Redbird uniform Tuesday.
The 6-foot-3 Hoselton arrived from Central Catholic generously listed at 275 pounds. He admits he was closer to 260. Now he weighs 310. The transformation has been gradual, marked by yearly gains in the weight room and through conditioning.
Nothing about it has been easy.
“It’s been a fight for sure,” Hoselton said. “I’ve been fighting a lot. But I think it will be worth it when I look back on it.
“It’s a lot of work, a lot of time and work. But it’s something where I’ll be able to say I was an Illinois State University Redbird football player for the rest of my life.”
The Redbird displayed on the board remained menacing, its teeth clenched. Inside, it must have been smiling. The reverence Hoselton holds for being a Redbird is that special.
His only action came in one game last year. His bio on the ISU athletics website lists him as a redshirt in 2013 and on the practice squad in 2014 and 2015.
“It’s about being part of the team,” Hoselton said. “We’ve had two conference championships since I’ve been here (2014, 2015), a national championship run (placing second in 2014). It’s always fun being part of a winning team. That’s exciting.”
So is the prospect of getting on the field, though Hoselton knows there are no guarantees. He likes being part of the competition as ISU seeks to replace nearly its entire starting front.
Offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Dan Clark will be mixing and matching linemen through much of the preseason, seeking the right combination. He welcomes having Hoselton in the hunt.
“As coaches we are probably in the profession because of guys like George Hoselton,” Clark said. “It’s a guy who might not start, might never crack the lineup, but loves being part of the offensive line room with the guys and loves being part of the Redbirds.
“He could maybe go down the street or somewhere and be playing. But he wanted to be part of this unit and I appreciate it. He’s worked and gotten better every year. Now he’s doing some really good things. He’s worked hard and playing his best ball as a senior.”
Clark used "respect" in regard to Hoselton, who received his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business in May and has begun work on his master’s.
No. 65 senses he has the respect of his teammates as well.
“There’s always respect for seniors, but yeah, even more for the guys who go day in and day out in practice and don’t always hit the field,” Hoselton said. “They know.
"You just have to know your role and that’s kind of what I’ve been doing. I know my role is to try to get the team the best that I can get it. If I’m having a good time doing it, I’m going to keep doing it.”
And keep being a Redbird.