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Bret Bielema talks recruiting during media availability



Illinois football
Nov 26, 2022; Evanston, Illinois, USA; llinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema leads his team on the field against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Bret Bielema talks recruiting during media availability

On Thursday, June 22nd, Illini head coach Bret Bielema made himself available to the media after workouts. Here is a rundown of some of the key points he made. A big focus was on the buzz around campus coming into this season and how recent success had positively affected recruiting.

The Buzz around Champaign is Palpable.

Bielema began by acknowledging that there is a lot of buzz around the Illini football program. Season ticket sales are at their highest in a long time. “Just because people expect good things and expect you to have success doesn’t mean it is going to happen, Bielema told reporters in his opening statement. Bielema understands what it is like to run a program with expectations. While head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers, Bielema won three consecutive Big Ten Titles (two outright and a share of one). While the expectations are high, Bielema knows the importance of keeping this team grounded and grinding coming into the 23-24 season.

Their success on the field has wrought triumph on the recruiting trail. One reporter asked how the recruiting pitch has evolved in light of the recent on-field achievements. First, Coach Bielema acknowledged that he and the coaching staff still have a couple of additional scholarships left in the ’23 class before they round out the ’24 class. Bielema feels that the number of players drafted to the NFL has positively affected recruiting via the transfer portal.

How the team’s success has affected in-state recruiting.

“I think just the buzz from last year, getting to the point of 7-1, and obviously, we didn’t finish the way we wanted, but many people know that height, that crescendo, getting ranked in the CFP is unprecedented. More people have Illinois flags and are wearing orange and blue. One of the most critical aspects is players recruiting their high school friends. Simply put, players want to come to Champaign. Bielema recruits the portal and high school equally.

The Illini has signed higher-quality recruits. Illinois competes against some other prominent Power Five programs for premium recruits. Bielema and his staff have also rebuilt the pipeline to the Chicagoland area.

Armchair Illini is a comprehensive site dedicated to covering University of Illinois Athletics owned and operated by Alex Kyi. Dante Pryor has been writing about College Football for years on Saturday Blitz and is now the Lead Football Author for Armchair Illini.