Illinois is Finally Recruiting like a Power 5 Program

Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash


Drew Pastorek, writing for The Champaign Room, noticed something significant.

It’s only been about 18 months since Bret Bielema replaced Lovie Smith as Illinois’ head football coach. I must admit I was initially not a fan of the hire. But I was optimistic after a promising debut season. And after the offseason Illinois has had so far, I have no doubts that Bielema is the right guy to stabilize the program.

The Illini have 8 commitments thus far for 2023 (Farrell, Harkless, Jackson, Swanson, Zachary Aamland, Kaden Feagin, Antwon Hayden and TJ McMillen) and the 33rd-ranked class nationally according to 247Sports — ahead of Iowa State, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Florida, Miami, UCLA, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Missouri, Indiana & Purdue. In fact, Illinois is currently just behind Michigan (30), Texas A&M (31) and Alabama (32).

Yes…it’s REALLY early. But to even be flirting with a top-30 recruiting ranking was unfathomable at this time two years ago.

The Illini are recruiting like a Power Five football program, not a mid-level MAC school. It may take a little time, but I think Bielema will have Illinois Football rolling sooner than later.

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