The Fighting Illini picked up their first 2015 commitment a week ago as local quarterback Jimmy Fitzgerald from Champaign Centennial pledged to the program. So who's next for the Illini?
DeKalb (Ill.) running back Dre Brown is one candidate and is an in-state prospect that Tim Beckman and his staff would very much like to lock up. Brown has been a priority for some time, and has made several trips south to visit Illinois. He was back in Champaign for the junior day last weekend.
"It was great," Brown said about his latest trip to Champaign. "I had a good time and talked to the coaches. I went to the basketball game (vs. Iowa) for the first half, and that was cool. Every time I go down there I feel more comfortable, and I like the family atmosphere."
The Illinois staff rolled out the red carpet for several of their top in-state targets in the junior class, including Fitzgerald, Brown, Miles Boykin, Gabe Megginson, Flynn Nagel, and several others.
They definitely generated some positive buzz. Brown believes Illinois could be on the verge of landing a very good crop of in-state stars in the 2015 class.
"I feel like if another player commits (to Illinois), then other players who were down there will start committing," Brown said. "We all talked about, but everybody wants to get their other offers and all that."
This list of suitors after Brown is growing, including some attention from three Big Ten rivals. Indiana came through with an offer this week, and Brown has named N.C State, Boston College, Oregon, California, and Tennessee as new schools in the mix.
So is an early commitment in the cards?
"It just depends on how I feel," Brown said. "If I feel like I really want to go to a school, then I will (commit). I will probably go through the evaluation period and after that make a decision. Right now I'm hearing a lot from Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana."
One thing in the Illini's favor is the strong relationship Brown has with the coaching staff. During his visit, he spent some time getting to know the coaches even better and getting familiar with how they plan to use him in their offense should he pick Illinois.
"Coach Seamonson, the outside linebackers, coach is my recruiter," Brown said. "He was with some of the defensive recruits (during the visit), but we sat down and talked. A week or two before that he came to my school. I also watched some film with Coach Salem and that was really nice."