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Illinois Football Looking for Speed in Class of 2024



Illinois Football Makes Top 5 for In-State DB

Illinois Football Looking for Speed in Class of 2024

Bret Bielema has significantly improved recruiting for Illinois Football. Illinois has mixed in evaluations on lesser known prospects with throwing their hat in on power-five recruitments. Programs like Illinois need to have strong evaluators. Illinois is in a power-five conference, however their fanbase and gameday atmosphere pales in comparison to bigger dogs like Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. Because of a more tight-knit environment, they need to mix in players that they believe will fit into their scheme.

Their most recent scheme seems to be adding speed on the perimeter. After their two most recent offers in the class of 2024, that seems to be the plan.

Kedarius Jones WR

Kedarius Jones is a 6 foot tall wide receiver from Memphis, Tennessee. Coach George McDonald was the first power-five coach to offer Jones, who currently holds an offer from Jackson State. Jones is a track athlete who has ran a 4.3 40 yard dash, per HUDL. McDonald seems to be offering speedy receivers. In recent years, players like Kenari Wilcher and Ashton Hollins have joined Illinois Football. McDonald has been prioritizing speed, particularly when they go after receivers from out of state.

McDonald has done a great job locking up in-state talent who are more lengthy, perimeter options such as Malik Elzy and Eian Pugh. Since Isiah Williams and Casey Washington may not be on the team next year due to the NFL draft and/or eligibility, McDonald seems to be proactive on adding depth to the wide receiver core while also developing the current young core.

Ca’lil Valentine RB

Valentine is a 6 foot tall running back from Chandler, Arizona. He is a top 400 prospect according to 247 and has multiple big time offers. Given that Illinois is now in the “post-Chase Brown era”, I am sure that Bret Bielema and Thad Ward are working to replete their running back core. Reggie Love and Josh McCray are solid options to carry the torch, however they are extremely young at that position. Players like Aidan Laughery, Jordan Anderson and Kaden Feagin will all be competing for playing time in the coming seasons. Valentine is a speedy running back with solid size.

Though this may be a tough battle given Valentine’s offer and hometown, the effort to increase depth at skill positions is evident. Illinois will also likely be in the market through the transfer portal next season. Thad Ward is a strong recruiter and is currently vying for in-state running back, Darrion Dupree. If Ward can land Dupree, it would be a strong statement as his first major recruit after returning to Illinois.

Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is also the lead content creator and lead editor of all articles on Armchair Illini. He has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS Sports and more.