CHARLESTON — Addison Bounds had quite the high school career for Prairie Central.
Bounds played quarterback and as a junior, he passed for 1,620 yards and rushed for 742 yards. He accounted for 16 touchdowns as Prairie Central went 7-4. As a senior, Bounds was 117-of-188, passing for 1933 yards, 24 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. He also rushed for 616 yards and 11 touchdowns as Prairie Central went 7-3 and he earned IFCA Class 4A All-State honors.
Bounds caught the eye of Dino Babers' coaching staff at Eastern Illinois, and Bounds had his heart set on playing quarterback at the college level. He went on his recruiting visit, talked with Babers and asked if he would stay at quarterback at EIU. Bounds knew Rochester quarterback Austin Green was coming in the same recruiting class.
"I asked if I can at least have a shot to play quarterback and he said absolutely," Bounds said.
On the 2013 roster, the 6-4, 195-pound Bounds was listed as a quarterback. But he was also given the jersey number 89, which isn't a quarterback's number. It was because Bounds didn't last long as a quarterback at EIU. Bounds wasn't convinced to switch positions, either.
"On the first day of camp, they said (I) would be a receiver and go over to that unit," Bounds said. "That was basically it. There was no more discussion. I had to accept it, keep my head down and keep working."
Bounds was disappointed. He had his heart set on playing quarterback, but Bounds adapted to receiver and then shortly after, tight end. Bounds added some muscle and was listed at 220 pounds by his redshirt freshman season. He's listed at 235 pounds this season as a senior.
"Initially the switch was difficult, but once I got going, I think it fits me more and my abilities," Bounds said. "It ended up being a lot better. I'm glad the switch was better. It was definitely worth it."
It was an interesting transition for Bounds. He never played receiver before – he was always the one throwing to the receivers. Now he had to learn how to run routes, block downfield, the timing with the quarterback, and everything else a wide receiver needs to know.
"It was weird and definitely a different way of thinking about things," Bounds said. "I had some great coaches and they got me to learn the position quickly. It was really rough at first but I got comfortable with it."
Then the coaches had Bounds transition to tight end.
"I actually joked about it in practice (last week), I just wanted to come in and throw the ball, not block defensive ends. This sucks," Bounds joked. "It's a lot different. From quarterback in high school to wide receiver to tight end, I have learned so much. So my football IQ is high and I appreciate that. I really do enjoy it. When they did move me, I was bitter, but it's something I learned to take pride in.
"It's a versatile position. I have to be strong enough to block and good enough to outrun linebackers. The guys I am with, the group, they've been awesome."
All of the work in the transition paid off during his sophomore season when he hauled in his first pass. By the end of the season, Bounds led the team with four touchdown receptions. Bounds' biggest game came against Southeast Missouri State when he caught five passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
"It's a lot different as a quarterback making plays, so when you get that first catch, it's different," Bounds said. "It was like four or five games into the season, against SEMO. It was really exciting and that was my first touchdown in like three years."
The move from quarterback to receiver to tight end worked out for Bounds, though. He played in 11 games on the special teams unit and as a reserve tight end as a redshirt freshman. The next season, he made eight starts and caught 17 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns. As a junior, he started all 11 games and finished with 20 receptions for 188 yards and three touchdowns.
His senior season has been a difficult one, though. Bounds suffered an injury to his hand late in the first game of the season and missed the next three games. He returned with a cast on his hand, which affected how much he could play. The cast has been off the last few games, and Bounds has one reception for 29 yards this season. Even though he's taken a back seat, he's tried to help his understudy as much as possible.
"Mentally, it's been a tough year. I had high hopes this year going into it and ended up missing a good portion of the year. It sucked," Bounds said. "But at the same time, I just wanted to be there for my teammates and helping out James Sheehan as much as I can. I feel healthy at this point and I want to finish the season up strong."
Bounds was also named as a team captain this season. EIU coach Kim Dameron said Bounds is a great example for his teammates to follow.
"He stayed healthy all last year and had a great year for us. It was unfortunate in the first game that he broke his thumb. He's come back and picked up where he's left off," Dameron said. "He's a great kid, great character and great student. Been a good leader for us and has played a lot of good ball here."
Bounds is also setting himself up for life without football, sort of. At least not from the playing aspect of it. He is in grad school to get his sports administration degree. Over the summer, he did an internship under Rich Moser, who is the Associate Athletic Director of Media and Public Relations at EIU. He worked on getting sponsorships from local businesses and called alumni for donations and did various other duties.
Bounds wants to work in athletic department after he gets his degree, and his ultimate goal is to hopefully become an athletic director someday.
"I talked to (EIU AD) Tom Michael a lot and got to know him better, and what he does is cool and that's something I feel I could do someday," Bounds said. "It's a difficult job, but I want to do it and it's something I can be proud of and something I want to shoot for. If I don't get there, that's fine as long as I am doing something that I want and keeps me in the sports world."
Saturday's game at Austin Peay will be the last one for Bounds, who already has his degree in marketing and is currently in graduate school. It's been an up-and-down ride from quarterback to receiver to tight end, and now an injury has cost him part of his senior year. But he's enjoyed the last five years.
"It's been a really quick five years. It's been fun, a pretty good time," Bounds said. "Football, there's ups and downs, but I made a lot of great friends here at EIU and people I will never forget and that makes all of the work worth it. I'm really glad I've been here."