Illinois has been recruiting Gabe Megginson since before he blew up and the likes of Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, and several other top program came calling.
On Friday, that long relationship paid dividends as the 3-star offensive lineman from Jacksonville (Ill.) pledged to Tim Beckman and the Fighting Illini while on a visit to the Champaign campus.
Megginson announced his decision on Twitter:
"Proud to say that I am committed to The University of Illinois!! I can't wait to continue my education, and football career at Illinois!"
Ranked the No. 40 offensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com, Megginson (6-foot-5, 289 pounds) was one of the Illini's top in-state targets in the class of 2015. He joins DeKalb (Ill.) running back Dre Brown and local quarterback Jimmy Fitzgerald as Illini commits.
Megginson is just off a visit to Arkansas, and he recently tripped to Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, and NC State. His commitment is a major coup for Beckman and his staff at a position of need. The Illini are expected to take as many as six offensive linemen in the class.
With over 25 offers to his credit, Megginson saw what he liked in his own back yard. It was a true team effort in landing Megginson. Led by offensive line coach A.J. Ricker, the entire offensive staff was heavily involved in his recruitment. And even current commit Dre Brown was instrumental in selling Illinois to Megginson.
"They are absolutely the best people I've been around," he said. "I just want my success to be with them. Illinois was absolutely the perfect fit for me."
While he says he will come in and work hard, and hope to earn a spot in the 2-deep, Megginson also understands he needs to spend some time in the Illinois strength program and prepare his body for the physical play in the Big Ten.
"I don't expect to play right away, but hopefully early on," he said.
Building an in-state recruiting base has been a priority for Beckman since he took over the program in December of 2011. The Illini made progress in the 2014 class, signing five players from the state of Illinois. They are now looking to take the next step - Brown, Fitzgerald, and Megginson in the fold is a nice start.
"I talked to Dre all week, and I realized I wanted to play with these in-state kids," Megginson said. "They are great people."