On a Trinity International University football team dominated by seniors, freshman wide receiver Cory Windle has made an immediate impact.
The Aurora Christian graduate is averaging nearly four receptions a game and has hauled in five touchdown passes for the Trojans (5-3), an NAIA school in Deerfield.
“We have around 20 seniors,” Windle said. “Most of our offensive line is seniors, which will be tough losing them after this year. It’s been really great being with our senior wideouts. … They’ve tried to teach me a lot and I’ve tried to take as much from them because they’re leaders of the team.”
Quarterback Stephen Anderson is also a senior. He threw two touchdown passes to Windle on Saturday in Trinity International’s 32-12 victory over Waldorf.
“He trusts me a lot, so that gives me a lot of confidence in going out there and doing my best,” Windle said. “A lot of people have confidence in me, which just builds my inspiration to do even better.”
Listed at 6-foot-4, 201 pounds, Windle makes an inviting target. He’s averaging 12 yards a reception.
“I’ve done better than I thought I would’ve,” he said.
The Trojans started the season strong, winning four of their first five game, including a victory over then-17th ranked University of Saint Francis.
The early success helped Trinity International crack the top 25 in the national poll of NAIA football coaches.
“I think it’s going really well,” Windle said of the season. “We’ve stepped up a lot physically in some big games. We’ve had a couple disappointing losses here and there.”
One of those came Oct. 12 in Davenport, Iowa, when ninth-ranked St. Ambrose used a late touchdown to pull out a 41-38 victory.
It was the 10th straight win in the series for the Fighting Bees, who have lost only once to Trinity International in the 18 games the teams have played.
Still, it was a much better result than last year’s 43-6 drubbing at the hands of St. Ambrose, and the Trojans already have ensured a better record than last season’s 4-7 mark, which included a 1-6 record in the Midwest League of the Mid-States Football Association.
With the arrival of promising newcomers such as Windle, there are signs that the long-suffering Trinity program is headed in the right direction under fourth-year coach Kirk Wherritt.
“We’re always giving our best,” Windle said. “That’s all we can do.”
Windle chose Trinity International after wining a pair of IHSA Class 3A state championships at Aurora Christian, where he also established school records for touchdowns and yards receiving in a season.
He was attracted by Trinity International’s evangelical Christian heritage.
“I went to a Christian school in high school,” Windle said. “They have the same values [at Trinity] as my coaches in high school – giving God the glory, which is the most important thing, and then having fun. And trying to win is the most fun you can have.”
Windle credits Aurora Christian with helping him become a better person and he has maintained contact with current students and staff.
“I appreciate everything they do,” he said. “I’ve gone back for a few football games. I like to talk to Athletic Director Dan Beebe. I talk to a few teachers here and there.”
Windle is a pre-physical therapy major.
Like most college student-athletes, he doesn’t have a lot of free time. In fact, he seems a little confused by the concept.
“Most of my free time consists of trying to get my homework done,” he says.
But don’t worry. Windle does find some opportunities for relaxation.
“I like to hang out in our cafeteria, which has like a lounge area,” he says. “I play some pingpong, play pool.”
• Dennis D. Jacobs writes the weekly On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle. To suggest local college athletes deserving recognition, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.