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Illinois Football’s Top In-state Prospects



Illinois Football's Top In-state Prospects were on campus this weekend

Illinois Football’s Top In-state Prospects

In Bret Bielema’s second recruiting class at Illinois he brought in 8 in-state prep prospects. Out of the 49 prep prospects that Bielema has brought to Illinois football, 19 of them are in-state products. Obviously a team wants the most talented player no matter where they are from, but Bielema has certainly stayed true to his word. Making around 40 percent of your prep prospects from your own state is a positive addition. Lovie Smith so famously signed 0 in-state prospects in his final recruiting class.

Illinois Football will look to continue this trend in the class of 2024. Bielema has notably landed top-10 in-state prospects such as Aidan Laughery, Jared Badie, Malik Elzy and Kaden Faegin. Bielema and his staff have impressively beat out the likes of Iowa, Notre Dame and Tennessee to land the four aforementioned products. They now enter the eve of spring ball, where recruiting starts to heat up prior to the Summer camps and visits.

Mount Carmel Running Back: Darrion Dupree

Illinois rehired Thad Ward this past winter. After Cory Patterson followed Ryan Walters to Purdue, Thad Ward returned and fills a huge need as a dynamic in-state recruiter. His first task will be landing Dupree. According to 247sports, Dupree has started to earn offers from Louisville, Wisconsin and Purdue. Given the proximity and established success, I expect the Badgers to be a major player for Dupree. Dupree would fill a need as a lead-back for the Illini. Bielema has a solid crew of talented backs, however no one player has proven that they look to be the guy to handle the reigns for seasons to come.

Illinois has quite the pitch too. Bielema has an extensive history of developing running backs, and Chase Brown literally led the nation in rushing yards. Brown elevated himself in the NFL draft combine and will hopefully be on an NFL roster for years to come.

Naperville North WR/DB Luke Williams

It just seems that Illinois never lands that kid from the Western Suburbs. David Olano is a strong kicking prospect, however I am so used to seeing skill players from the west suburbs look towards Northwestern, Wisconsin or Notre Dame. Williams may just be that change. He has offers from Northwestern, Iowa and Wisconsin to name a few. It is so fulfilling to hear that this is now a winnable recruitment for Illinois. Luke Williams is projected as a Wide receiver given that he is 6 foot 1 and a rangy athlete.

However, does the word “rangy athlete” ring a bell? Kerby Joseph also got that phrase and look what Illinois did for him. Kendall Smith also went from a special teamer, to a guy that actually impressed at the Illini pro-day. That sell is becoming more prominent for Illinois towards rangy, in-state athletes. Illinois was oh-so close to landing Jyaire Hill, who ultimately committed to Michigan. They look to really put the sell on for Williams as Sydney Brown, Quan Martin and Kerby Joseph will all be playing on NFL teams this year. This is one Illinois has to win.

Some wait and See in-state prospects for Illinois Football.

Outside of some no-doubt prospects like Dupree and Williams, Football has turned into an evaluation game. Matthew Bailey was one of the only few true freshmen on the roster to make an impact, and he was literally the last player added to the class. From the way Bielema speaks, Mac Resetich is also expected to mirror Bailey’s success as a late evaluation. Bielema and his staff have shown the ability to evaluate and develop talent. They identified Jimmy Rolder early on, however Michigan swooped in.

There are some in-state prospects like Downers Grove linebacker, Cael Brezina and St Francis Wheaton’s QB Alessio Milivojevic who will need to prove themselves worthy of a Big Ten scholarship. Regardless, I fully expect Bielema to prioritize this state and take chances on in-state players.

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.