Phil Knell graduated from the class of 1963 as one of the great athletes of Mahomet-Seymour High School. Phil also excelled in the classroom as the co-valedictorian and SAR award winner in 1963.
Mr. Knell was a four-year letter winner in football. He started as a tailback, fullback, and quarterback during his high school football career. During his four years on the football team, the Bulldogs were never defeated with a perfect 32-0 record. Phil lead the News-Gazette area in scoring with 159 points as a senior. He was a two-time All-Area football team member and a News-Gazette All-State First Team member in 1962.
Phil was a four-year letter winner in basketball. He played on teams that won three Sangamon Valley Conference Championships. He graduated with a school record 1,499 points and a career average of 17 points per game. He was a two-time All-Area team member.
Phil was also a three-year letterman in track and field. As a senior, he set school records in the 108-yard low hurdles, 120-yard low hurdles, 140-yard high hurdles, and 70-yard high hurdles. He was also a member of the record setting 880-yard relay team.
After high school, Mr. Knell enrolled at the University of Illinois where he played football.He was a freshman on the 1964 Rose Bowl team. For the next three years, he was a letter-winner and started in the defensive backfield. In 1966, he lead the Big 10 in interceptions with seven. That year he was also an All-American. He still ranks in the top ten for career interceptions with ten.
After graduation, he worked for Wilson Sporting Goods before moving into the telecommunications industry.
In 1997, Phil won the Monsignor Duncan Award which is awarded to an Illini football alum who displayed exemplary integrity and dedication to the community through public service and citizenship.