Football: Oak Park-River Forest’s Tommy Odell earns another chanceOak Park-River Forest's Ryan Nelson catches a ball from Jacob Lintvelt against Leyden in a 7 on 7 tournament Thursday, June 28, 2012 at Addison Trail High School in Addison. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 6, 2012 1:44PM
Over the summer and through preseason practice, Tommy Odell has one primary goal in mind. Stay healthy.
For the Oak Park-River Forest defender, that goal eluded him last season. Odell suffered a serious injury at the end of preseason practice in August that cost the former defensive back his entire junior season.
Odell is back with a vengeance for his senior year. Now his role has increased big time as OPRF appeared in the West Suburban Conference 7-on-7 June 28 at Addison Trail.
Odell, who runs close to a 4.4 40-yard dash according to coach John Hoerster, is making the move from defensive back to Hoerster’s most important position in his defense — middle linebacker.
“Our best player is the Mike linebacker,” Hoerster said. “That’s him.”
Hoerster feels the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Odell is being overlooked by college recruiters. One problem for Odell is that recruiters do not have any video to watch of him from last football season. He couldn’t create any highlights while on the sideline the whole season after he broke the fibula in his left leg and tore two knee ligaments. The injury happened during one of the last days of preseason practice just days before the season opener.
The Huskies won three games in Hoerster’s first year.
“It was really tough to watch; even more was watching and knowing there is nothing I can do,” Odell said. “I could only pick up my teammates.”
Because of the injury, Odell quit baseball, missing out on an opportunity to participate on OPRF’s Class 4A state championship team this spring. He played baseball for the Huskies as a freshman and sophomore.
Odell found another sport in the spring he was able to handle as a sprinter for the boys track and field team at OPRF.
Odell is using 7-on-7s to get used to linebacker. He has admitted to struggling to make the move from free safety.
“I’m trying get used to being in the box with guards and tackles,” Odell said. “I’m used to playing free.”
But Hoerster admits that Odell’s future college position is as a defensive back due to his size. With Jakari Cammon, the top returning rusher back in the West Suburban Silver, there is a chance Odell will be used in spot situations as a running back to help Cammon.
Hoerster said Odell ranks near the top of his class and could eventually attend an Ivy League school.