CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Following in the footsteps of their father, Josh and James Kreutz don’t feel pressure when it comes to their last name.
“I don’t think about it,” Josh Kreutz said. “I just try and go out there and play. I think to me it’s just about like what can I do for myself to become the best player I can be.”
The brothers’ famous father is former Bears center Olin Kreutz, who played 14 seasons in the NFL. The six time Pro Bowler was a household name in Chicago for years, helping the Bears to the Super Bowl in 2007.
“We grew up going to Bears games,” Josh Kreutz said. “We grew up around playing football my entire life so and then obviously watching my dad play football so football’s been around our family. Football’s a huge part of our lives.”
Now, playing the same position as his dad, Josh is using that to his advantage.
“My dad has helped a lot with me playing center,” Josh Kreutz said. “I never played center before I got here, but I’ve always learned something from him.”
After two years on special teams, Josh is finally getting his chance as a starter, following in a long line of successful centers for head coach Bret Bielema.
“Kreutz is incredibly athletic,” Illinois offensive line coach Bart Miller said. “The thing that gives him a tremendous advantage against anybody he’s playing is that he’s so football savvy. His football IQ is incredibly high.”
That’s not the only thing he gained from his dad, with a competitive nature also coming from Josh and James’ parents.
“I would just say it comes from DNA,” James Kreutz said. “My dad was a good player. Josh is a good player. My mom’s an athlete. She runs marathons. It’s just a competitive nature.”
That drive is fueling James, who is waiting his turn to see the field more, doing his best on special teams to make an impact, all while competing daily against his brother.
“I think iron sharpens iron,” James Kreutz said. “We’re not going to try and kill each other, but when we go up against each other it’s a good matchup. I think we both realize this is a pretty special opportunity that we get to play together.”
The Kreutz brothers will get to continue playing together for three years in Orange and Blue.