Drew Himmelman's mentality seems to be that awards are nice, but winning on the gridiron is better.

Drew Himmelman’s mentality seems to be that awards are nice, but winning on the gridiron is better.

A sophomore left tackle at Illinois State, Himmelman has been adding awards to his resume during the offseason.

He was named a HERO Sports FCS Freshman All-American following his redshirt freshman season, and he was named the 2017 Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Newcomer Team.

Before the 2018 season has even kicked off, Himmelman has been named a preseason third-team All-American by HERO Sports, and he’s been named to the first-team Missouri Valley Conference preseason team.

So what’s been setting Himmelman apart?

“I honestly have no idea,” said Himmelman, a 2015 Geneseo graduate. “I don’t really think of it as what makes me unique. I think on the O-line especially it’s more of a group, and we all work together. If one guy misses an assignment the play is blown. It’s not like one guy is standing out. It’s five guys working together to make the play happen.”

The workmanlike approach helped the Redbirds to the fourth-best rushing offense in the MVFC in 2017.

Under new offensive line coach Harold Etheridge, Himmelman believes the group has found a new energy.

With nearly all of the offensive line returning, Himmelman said he likes the chemistry of the group and sees the work on the field coming together too.

With a year experience under his belt, Himmelman thinks his experience will help slow the game down and give him a new comfort level.

“My first game, I was super nervous and it was kind of a blur for a little while,” Himmelman said. “I settled in toward the middle and end of the season. Hopefully, when I’m out there I will be able to read the defense easier and kind of be able to see what they are going to do before the play even starts.”

Himmelman’s success didn’t come overnight.

He waited through a greyshirt year and a redshirt year before earning his spot on the field last season.

“I think it was very beneficial,” Himmelman said. “It’s not necessary for everybody, but for me coming out of high school, as small as I was, it was the best option. Freshman summer you kind of sink or swim, and looking back I wasn’t as strong as I needed to be. I think having that extra year really worked out to my advantage.”

The Redbirds reached the FCS National Championship Game in 2014 and made the FCS playoffs as recently as 2016.

Following a tough 2017 campaign, Himmelman believes the Redbirds are ready for a bounce-back season.

“Last year was kind of a disappointment,” Himmelman said. “I don’t think anyone was happy with our 6-5 record and not making the playoffs. This year, I think we are really focused on taking it one game at a time and trying to put the best product we can on the field every week.”

It’s an approach that might lead to some nice rewards on the field.