Auburn graduate Vederian Lowe embraces Bret Bielema and his final season with the Illini

Football

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The Bret Bielema era at Illinois is off to a great start thanks to the Fighting Illini’s opening win over Nebraska last Saturday. The start of the Bielema era also will mark the end of Vederian Lowe’s time in Champaign. The Rockford Auburn graduate is in his final season at left tackle. He has fully embraced Bielema’s system and approach.

There’s no question Bielema brings an added sense of confidence to the players. They know what he achieved in the Big Ten when he was in Madison.

“He knows what it takes to win,” said Lowe.” He’s not here to play games. He’s here to win the games, so we’re just trying to make sure that we buy into his vision and just follow him because we know the direction he’s going to take us is positive.”

The Illini were able to win Bielema’s first game despite losing starting quarterback Brandon Peters with an arm injury in the first quarter.

“That was something that coach ‘B’ told us to make sure that we’re aware of,” said Lowe. “We were going to get hit with adversity, we just didn’t know when.”

Lowe is one of 22 super seniors on this Illini team, guys who are in their fifth season of eligibility thanks to an extra year granted to them by the NCAA following the pandemic.”

“We’re all in this together. We think it’s to our advantage just having all of those guys that have been here a long time.”

Lowe has been starting at right tackle since his freshman year. He has now made 41 career starts. If he stays healthy, later this season he’ll set the Fighting Illini record for the most games started in a career. He needs seven more.

Lowe also is on a remarkable streak of 35 consecutive games started.

“It means a lot. Some guys just don’t get the chance to even play that many games in the Big Ten you know. Just for me to be able to have that many consecutive starts it means a lot to me.”

As a fifth-year guy Lowe has had a lot of extra responsibilities come his way like representing Illinois at the Big 10 football media day. He was also picked from all student-athletes in the Big Ten to be the featured speaker for the Big Ten Network’s Kickoff Show. In that speech he focused on his responsibilities as a football player, and also his responsibilities as a husband, a father of two young boys and the guardian of his younger brother.

Lowe has easily become one of the faces of Illini football. He welcomes that too.

“It’s definitely been a great time getting my face out there, getting my story out there. I’m embracing everything that comes along with being a fifth-year senior.”

After last season Lowe was named honorable mention All-Big Ten. In the preseason this year he was named to the Outland Trophy Watch List as one of the best interior linemen in the nation. At 6-6 and 320 pounds he has NFL size to play tackle. Lowe plans to pursue an NFL career, but right now he’s staying focused on helping his teammates, his new coach and Fighting Illini fans enjoy some more victories.

“You can get lost in your own head trying to think about stuff (the NFL) like that. I’m just trying to make sure that I’m focused on each game at a time, focus on each week, each practice, making sure I do my job every single play. That’s kind of where my head is at right now.”

Lowe is one of six captains on the team this season.

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