VIDEO: Illinois OT Alex Palczewski After Preseason Practice No. 1

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois senior right tackle Alex Palczewski was asked what game this season he was most excited to play. The 310-pounder from Mount Prospect, Ill., needed only one pointer finger to make his point. 

"Game number one," Palczewski said in reference to the season opener against Ohio State. 

The Illini have less than a month to prepare for a scheduled season opener on Thursday night Sept. 3 against Big Ten defending champion Ohio State, who was ranked No. 2 in the preseason USA Today Coaches poll released Thursday morning.

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Illinois Fighting Illini offensive lineman Alex Palczewski (63) and teammates come off the field before the 2019 game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium.Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports

Palczewski said Thursday his mother is a nurse who works on the Intensive Care Unit floor and works with COVID-19 patients. He told reporters after the first day of preseason practice that he intentionally showed his mom, Bozena Palczewski, the plan so she would be comfortable with him playing in the 2020 season.

“She’s seen very young people, in their 30s," Palczewski said. "Obviously we’re very healthy dudes; we’re college Division I athletes. It’s how serious this can be. Maybe it might not affect us but maybe if we transmit it to one of these coaches or a pedestrian or someone, eventually it can reach someone who has immune deficiency. Being serious with it, always wearing a mask and being smart."

"Obviously at the end of the day, it’s their lives but telling them if one guy messes up, there’s a chance at least 30 days have to quarantine, especially with CDC guidelines where it takes as much as one single contact to get you out,' Palczewski said of stressing social distancing and avoiding public places without masks and proper protocol with his teammates outside of the football facilities. "We’re telling everyone to be smart. Don’t go out, don’t see the girl, just take care of business."